Jim Hobgood, analyst for Virginia men’s basketball on the Virginia Radio Network for 12 years, is a co-host of “Hoos Talking”, an oustanding radio program that airs Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. on Sports Radio 910 in Richmond and live on the web. Hoos Talking is a radio associate of The Sabre and as part of the partnership, Jim Hobgood will periodically write a column called “Hobbo’s Corner” on the site. Read more about Hoos Talking and Hobgood here!
November ended with a disappointing loss to Penn State. Frankly, I had hoped for 5-2 at month’s end, but we’re 4-3. My goal for this team in the pre-ACC schedule was/is 10-3. That’s difficult now and would have to include a road victory at Auburn this coming Monday, Dec. 7. Regardless of what happens in Alabama on Monday, the five home games following the exam period become absolutely critical for this basketball team and season. Coach Tony Bennett is laying a foundation for his program this year and the four December (and Jan. 5) home games need to be W’s if 15 wins or more are in the cards this season.
With that in mind, let’s briefly look at what we learned from the first seven games. Nobody is surprised that Sylven Landesberg and Mike Scott are the team leaders. Sylven is a marked man coming off last season and his challenge only will become greater once conference play begins. Sammy Zeglinski has clearly become a primary player who has averaged just less than 30 minutes a game. He is also the team leader in made 3’s.
Speaking of 3’s, that may be the key statistic for this team in 2009-10. Looking at the USF and Stanford losses, you note 2 and 4 made 3’s respectfully. Without a consistent and strong center (I still consider Mike Scott to be a “4”), made 3’s are essential. Coach Bennett talks about making the opponent take difficult shots while the Hoos to take good shots. But even if this sound strategy works, our guys must still convert the good shots we take, especially from the perimeter. We did convert eight 3’s in the Penn State game, but several of those were late in the game that allowed us to at least have a chance in the final seconds. A final point on the November games: someone (likely Mustapha Farrakhan or Jeff Jones ) needs to establish himself as a consistent performer on both ends in the next six games prior to conference play. Defense is great, but against the likes of Duke and Carolina a team must score to win. Sylven, Mike and to some extent Sammy can’t do it alone.
Coach Bennett talks about the Hoos “having a small margin for error”. That’s first-year coach-speak for diplomatically saying the cupboard wasn’t full when I got here. Nevertheless, I think this team will play hard, get better as the season progresses and compete in every game. They will be overmatched occasionally, but not often. While there will be disappointments this year, there may be a few pleasant surprises as well. The great news is we’re headed in the right direction, key players on this year’s team will return next year and additional “help is on the way” as they say!
Keep the faith and support the team by your attendance for those five critical home games. The fun really begins at N.C. State on Jan. 9.