Virginia Heads to Stanford

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In setting goals for the Virginia Athletics Department a few years back, Athletic Director Craig Littlepage referenced a desire for the Cavaliers to be the Stanford of the East. Well in an interesting twist, the men’s basketball team’s rebuilding journey will feature a trip to Stanford in this season’s National Invitation Tournament.

The Cavs and the Cardinal square off in a first round game on Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. The contest will be televised on ESPN.

< ?php include(getenv("DOCUMENT_ROOT") . "/sabreincludes/realMedia/boxTableRight.html"); ?> “As I said the other day, if you can continue to keep playing, I think that’s a great thing at this time of year,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said in a recorded statement. “Especially for this group because it worked extremely hard all year long and this is a good reward. And because we’re young, I think it’s also great preparation for the following year.”

Certainly some would debate just how rewarding a cross-country flight on short notice is. Regardless, the Hoos have a limited amount of preparation time before tip-off, which will come approximately 48 hours after the NIT brackets were announced.

That means that game preparation will likely be an introspective period for the Cavs, rather than a full-fledged game plan aimed at Stanford, which is making its first NIT appearance since 1994. The program had made 11 straight NCAA Tournament trips.

“Like anything else with short preparation, you have to concentrate on yourself as much as anything else,” Leitao said. “We’ll put together a report in a quick period of time for our guys, but more than anything we want to have the ability to play our best basketball, doing the things that we do well. That’s probably more of our concentration.”

In some ways, that introspective approach may be similar to preparing for the Cardinal. After all, the two teams seem remarkably similar. Both squads enter this contest on a bit of a slide with both losing 4 of their last 6. Both teams have much better results at home than on the road with Virginia posting an 11-3 home mark and Stanford boasting a 10-3 record at home.

Both teams also feature strong guard play. UVa’s Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds combine for 35.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Stanford’s Chris Hernandez and Dan Grunfeld average 26.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 0.8 steals per game. There is also the undersized