When Tony Bennett first met the media last week, he recounted something the players said in their first meeting: “They said, ‘We need to be unified and we need to play with passion.'” The new Virginia men’s basketball coach said the response was exciting. Undoubtedly, he’s not the only one – for Cavalier fans, that’s something that had been missing for most of this past season as the team struggled to find cohesiveness, particularly on the offensive end where quality possessions were often in the minority.
Sylven Landesberg explained what the unification theme could mean on offense.
“When we say unified, we mean if someone’s making a play or driving in or passing it out, know the right spots to be in,” Landesberg said. “You could be the next person. Be ready to score. Be ready to play.”
Landesberg also shared his thoughts on the other key buzzword: passion. It’s something that coach Dave Leitao frequently felt was missing and something that long-time Hoo fans have longed for in a more consistent manner from the team in orange and blue. Landesberg believes letting the passion out can boost the entire operation during a game.
“Passion, just not being afraid to show your emotion on the court. Being too emotional is never good, but to show some emotion, pumping your fist, something,” Landesberg said. “Just doing that gets you more into the game, more involved. It gets the fans more involved, your teammates more involved. It’s a whole cycle.”
Of course, for passion to evolve in these positive ways, the Cavaliers will need to improve their production – pumping fists and excited fans generally come after successful moments on the court. After all, UVa finished 11th in the ACC in scoring offense this season (70.0 points per game) and 12th in scoring defense (72.5 points per game). Clearly, you can’t rank near the bottom of the league on both sides of the ball and expect to be successful.
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