Sabre Hoops Roundtable: 2005-06 Preview

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Let’s talk some hoops! The Cavaliers open the 2005-06 season tomorrow night against Liberty. It will be Dave Leitao’s first official game as UVa’s head coach and the ‘Hoos, to put it nicely, won’t be burdened by high expectations. Picked to finish last in the ACC, they will try to surprise some people during their last season in University Hall. Can they do it?’s Nick Sauer, Mike Ingalls and John Galinsky discuss the team and the upcoming season…

1) What are your early impressions of Coach Leitao?

UVa coach Dave Leitao

Nick: After a few years of often-unfocused effort, it’s nice to see energy concentrated into the two things that will win basketball games most consistently – defense and rebounding. I’ll have to wait to see the results on the court in the coming years, but he certainly talks the right way.

Mike: After meeting Coach Leitao a few weeks ago, I got the impression that he’s a no-nonsense guy who is confident in his abilities and understands what needs to be done to take Virginia basketball to the highest level. After watching him operate during the Concordia exhibition game, my impressions became reality. Leitao preaches defense and execution, but it doesn’t stop there. When one player failed to box out for a rebound, Leitao called a timeout on the next offensive series and met the player at half court to correct the issue. His intensity and his demand for excellence are already paying huge dividends for this team.

John: In many ways, he strikes me as the anti-Gillen. He isn’t glib and gabby. He is big on discipline and toughness. He is demanding and critical, yet he commands the respect of his players. He values timeouts. And he doesn’t seem to sweat.

2) What will be the biggest difference in the team this year?

John: I expect to see a lot more structure on both ends of the court. Offensively, during the exhibition game, I was struck by all the screens and movement in the halfcourt set. The defense also