Virginia Rediscovers Some Grit, Rhythm Against UNC

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Virginia is 8-1.
Virginia’s Francisco Caffaro goes up for a shot near the basket. ~ Kris Wright

The Virginia basketball team got back on track with a win Sunday. More importantly, perhaps, the Cavaliers got closer to the roots of their success.

In the previous two games, UVA strayed from its identity a bit against Maine and Purdue. While the Hoos still outpaced the Black Bears, 46-26, some of the determined effort plays, rebounding work, and defensive details were lacking and they didn’t create offense for teammates as well as desired. Those things only got worse in the 69-40 destruction against Purdue. The Cavaliers got outworked around rebounds and loose balls, got pushed around physically at times, didn’t make things tough enough on defense (particularly against screening action), and didn’t set up teammates well due to some poor shot selection and more turnovers.

Both occasions prompted some strong words from Virginia coach Tony Bennett, including a few somewhat surprising comments publicly about effort after the Maine game. That was followed by some matter of fact statements after Purdue.

“They took whatever they wanted away from us and then they got whatever they wanted offensively ,” Bennett said after the Purdue loss.

He also said that the Hoos didn’t match the Boilermakers’ physicality and added: “We didn’t have an answer for anything. Our defense, which is what we’ve tried to hang our hat on when you’re struggling to score, we couldn’t stop them