5 Things I Learned Against Hampton

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Will Harris and the Hoos are looking for hardware this week in San Juan.

When Virginia takes the hardwood in the San Juan Shootout this week, Dave Leitao is looking for two things – a title and consistency. With nothing to focus on except for basketball and beaches, both of those goals are attainable in the three-day event, which will provide the Hoos with their second opportunity to play away from Charlottesville.

“It’s my hope that, one, that obviously we can come back after 120 minutes with a championship. Two, that we can use our bench and know that over three days, just like you have in the ACC Tournament or when you play with one day in between games, that you can depend on other people to make plays for you,” Leitao said.

When Leitao says other people, he is referring to the added depth on this year’s squad. Last season, seven players ate up the bulk of the minutes and all of those players are back in 2006-07. Of course, guards J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary headline that group, but Jason Cain, Mamadi Diane , Adrian Joseph , and so on all have an idea of what Leitao demands and expects from his players. The newcomers, on the other hand, are still learning the ropes.

Of course, in the Hoos’ most recent outing against Hampton, one of those fresh faces had his best performance yet. Ryan Pettinella posted 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting and added 10 rebounds in the win over the Pirates. He’s obviously carving out a role on a team that doesn’t have much firepower in the post, but the Cavaliers will still need contributions of some kind from returning big men Laurynas Mikalauskas and Tunji Soroye . Both of those players were slowed in the early season thanks to injury issues so they are still trying to get into the mix more often.