Diane’s Day: A Sign Of Things To Come?

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Mamadi Diane delivered a career-high 25 points in the win over Arizona.

In many ways, Virginia’s Mamadi Diane had a typical freshman year on the basketball court. There were big games with big shots and there was also the expected inconsistency that many players show in their first year. The up-and-down nature of his freshman season led many to write him off during the offseason.

After all, there were new freshmen studs entering the program and they would surely unseat him in the playing rotation.

But Diane always had – and still has – two easy-to-overlook things going for him: 1. He plays superb perimeter defense and 2. Coach Dave Leitao seems to see a great deal of potential in him. Add in a little hard work and suddenly Diane is the name everyone is talking about.

And why not?

After a career-high 25-point night against Arizona (which included the first ever points for the men in the John Paul Jones Arena), Diane showed just how much he’s improved in the months since the NIT loss to Stanford. On many occasions, people have indicated just how hard Diane works – it was a trait highlighted during his recruitment out of DeMatha and you’ll often catch wind around the program about his dedication.

Diane said that Virginia’s entire program takes on the ‘it’s hard work to get better’ mentality.

“We have a lot of hard workers on this team, but I know I put in a lot of time,” Diane said. “Everyday, I try to get better in some way. The way I see it is if I work hard and just get a little bit better at one thing everyday, then that’s good.”

Sometimes, a player’s improvement from the offseason is obvious and parts of Diane’s game fit the bill in the early going of the 2006-07 season. Take his ballhandling for example. After what looked like a ‘trying too hard’