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Bennett on Justin Anderson: JA is ‘valuable part’ of UVA success

justin dunkJustin Anderson didn’t score in 26 minutes in two appearances off the bench in UVA’s shorter-than-expected run in the 2015 ACC Tournament.

Fans are worried about Anderson’s readiness for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, which begins Friday for Virginia, the #2 seed in the East Region, with a second-round game against #15 Belmont.

UVA coach Tony Bennett isn’t among those concerned based on what we saw from Anderson, a 6’6” junior who was named to the All-ACC second team despite missing eight games with a broken finger and recovery from an emergency appendectomy.

“That’s part of him having missed 32 days and coming back,” Bennett said of Anderson’s struggles on the floor against Florida State and UNC in Greensboro.

There was an ugly turnover in the Florida State game, a wounded-duck airball on a three against UNC, the miss on a good look on a potential game-tying three in the final minute of the Carolina loss.

But there were also positive moments: a hard drive to the rim against FSU, the highlight-reel block on an alley-oop dunk attempt against the Heels.

“It was valuable time to get him on the floor,” said Bennett, adding that “I don’t know if it’s fair to look at him and say, well, you weren’t just like you were when you left.”

“It was good to see him out there. I thought the second night was better than the first in terms of his mobility, defense,” Bennett said.

A week to practice and get his legs under him and get back into a flow with his teammates should be a big help.

“We’ve got some time to prepare,” Bennett said. “I don’t know how much more he can do. I know he’ll get better. But he’s been a valuable part of it. You just have to get a feel for it. Practices will be important for him.”

– Story by Chris Graham