Virginia Athletics Men’s Programs 2021-2022 Review

Virginia
Virginia won the National Championship in men’s tennis. ~ Photo courtesy of Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

The 2021-22 Virginia sports year has officially ended with the elimination of the baseball team during the regional round of the NCAA Tournament and completion of track and field competition in Oregon. The men’s sports programs accounted for one team national championship (tennis) and one individual national championship (discus).

The three-year, two-title reign of men’s lacrosse came to an end at the hands of the eventual National Champions, the Maryland Terrapins. Men’s swimming finished in the top 10 for the third straight season at the NCAA Championships. Men’s basketball and soccer struggled unlike anything we have seen in a long time. And yet, optimism is high in almost every single one of these programs given the elite talent already within them and more coming in every year. Five of the head coaches have won at least one national title as a head coach here at Virginia and three have done so since 2019.

Here is a breakdown of how all the Virginia men’s teams fared in the 2021-22 sports year.

Baseball

The Virginia baseball team started off its season 26-3 overall and 6-3 in conference play only to turn in a final record of 39-19. The offense was great for most of the season with three players finishing with a batting average over .360. Sophomore Jake Gelof, graduate student Alex Tappen, and freshman Casey Saucke batted .377, .366, and .360, respectively. Gelof was the biggest offensive threat all season for the Cavaliers as he recorded team-highs in home runs (21), RBIs (81), slugging percentage (.764), walks (41), and on-base percentage (.477) in addition to his batting average. Gelof set the program’s single-season record for RBIs.

Inconsistent pitching, especially from the starters, was the kryptonite for this year’s team and the offense cooled off late in the year in several games. Both impacted the team’s postseason. The Hoos lost twice in the ACC Tournament and twice in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 3 runs or fewer in three of the losses and giving up 7+ in two. A loss to Coastal Carolina was the final chapter in a season that got off to an incredibly promising start and ended in devastating fashion. A year after making the program’s fifth trip to the College World Series due in large part to multiple excellent pitching performances, the loss of many of those pitchers between seasons was evident in the Cavaliers’ early exit from the postseason.

Most of the key pieces from this year’s team will return in 2023 and the Cavaliers bring in the 21st ranked recruiting class according to Baseball America for what will be coach O’Connor’s 20th season at Virginia.

Basketball

The 2021-22 season for the Virginia men’s basketball team was one of the more disappointing ones in coach Tony Bennett’s tenure as the team went 21-14 overall, 12-8 in the ACC, and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Instead of the NCAA Tournament, the Cavaliers made the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) for the second time under Bennett, the other time being in the 2012-13 season as well. The team’s sixth place finish in the ACC regular season standings was its worst finish since 2010-11, Bennett’s second season in Charlottesville.

There were some new faces on the team this past season. Jayden Gardner, a transfer from East Carolina, averaged 15.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game en route to All-ACC Third Team honors and was the team’s leading scorer. Armaan Franklin, a transfer from Indiana, was expected to be the go-to 3-point shooter after shooting 42.4% from deep his last season at Indiana, but he did not live

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