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2020-21 Virginia men's basketball preview

Virginia Cavaliers

2019-20 record: 23-7, 15-5 in the ACC

Head coach: Tony Bennett

Tenure at Virginia: 12th season

Career coaching record: 364-129

Home court: John Paul Jones Arena

Starters: G Kihei Clark, G Casey Morsell, G Tomas Woldetensae, F Sam Hauser, F Jay Huff

Bench: C Francisco Caffaro, G Kody Stattmann, F Kadin Shedrick, G Jabri Abdur-Rahim, G Reece Beekman, F Justin McKoy, G Jayden Nixon, G Malachi Poindexter, G Chase Coleman, F Austin Katstra, G Trey Murphy III, G Carson McCorkle

Overview: Since the NCAA tournament was cancelled last season, Virginia is technically still the reigning champs. That title was their first national championship win in history, so head coach Tony Bennett needs to ride that energy into the NCAA tournament this season to prove that the squad has still got it, even if there are only two players left from the title-winning team. 

Last season, a big mistake was looking to guard Kihei Clark to be an elite shooter from the perimeter. Clark, although a solid passer and defender, ended last season with a higher assist percentage than two-point shooting percentage, and also had 3.5 turnovers per game. Casey Morsell and Kody Stattmann, who were also supposed to be strong shooters, ended the season with low marks from the perimeter as well. Tomas Woldetensae was really the only one who managed to have success from three-point range, but he struggled in many other areas of his game.

As for the incoming players, Marquette transfer Sam Hauser will likely start this season. He will definitely be a key player from beyond the arc, averaging 44.5 percent in three-pointers with a total of 553 career attempts in his tenure as a Golden Eagle. Freshman Reece Beekman will be a good backup for Clark, and fellow freshman Carson McCorkle is a solid defender. Four-star recruit Jabri Abdur-Rahim can make an impact in his first year and will be an important member once he warms up to the court. Abdur-Rahim has size that he can use as an advantage in order to be dangerous at the rim.

Team ceiling: If Bennett can build the depth on the team, the squad excels to the Final Four.

Team floor: If the Cavaliers struggle to find a good base for some of the freshmen on the team, and the squad lacks chemistry on the court between the key upperclassmen and all of the fresh faces, then losing in one of the early rounds of the NCAA tournament is a real possibility.  


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