Leitao: Good Guide Or Goner?

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Dave Leitao’s team has faced inexperience and a tough schedule in 2008-09. The Hoos are 9-17 on the season.

I don’t know what I think.

About Dave Leitao and Virginia I mean. I’ve been asked plenty of times on radio shows and otherwise, but I don’t know what I think. I know some people have already made up their minds. On both sides. I, however, usually end up answering the question from right down the middle. I can see either argument. I understand perspective as well, something I tried to say in the “What If This Were Year One?” article article in January. The point: take a big picture view and not a season glimpse; if you reach the same conclusions, that’s fine with me.

On one hand, Leitao inherited an irrelevant program. In the recruiting world, Virginia carried little weight outside of offering a spot to play in the ACC. The names already in the orange and blue, meanwhile, had become a potpourri of undisciplined, moderately talented players. Sure there were bright spots like Sean Singletary and eventually J.R. Reynolds. There were promising prospects like Gary Forbes. There were even stand-up, easy to pull for examples like Mamadi Diane . By and large though, Leitao was walking into a disaster. It only got worse when Forbes departed.

On the other hand, the program cupboard had some encouraging items on the shelves and a budget to support the shopping list. A brand new arena was on the horizon, fans seemed hungry to support a hopeful hoops program, and Leitao had National Championship ties. He even walked in with just the right amount of swagger without too much bravado – some people ask why, he said, I ask why not. Plus, Leitao wanted to reunite the days of Cavalier past with Cavalier future, to remind the program of its history.

What’s past was prologue.

In his first two seasons, Leitao put the program on the right track, arguably faster than anyone expected. The first season saw a team expected to finish near the ACC cellar claw