Fans get first look at new-look UVA Basketball in intrasquad scrimmage
Tony Bennett and his reigning national champion Cavaliers welcomed about 6,000 fans to their annual Blue-White Scrimmage here Saturday afternoon in John Paul Jones Arena.
Although the uniforms may have been the same, make no mistake, this was a completely different-looking team from the one that was cutting the nets down winning the 2019 National Championship last April in Minneapolis.
Nowhere in sight was the Big Three of Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and De’Andre Hunter, all now in the NBA, and Jack Salt, playing-for-pay in Poland.
Today was the debut of the Virginia newcomers: freshmen Casey Morsell, junior college transfer Tomas Woldetensae, and transfer Sam Hauser who is, by NCAA mandate sitting out the season.
Offensively, Jay Huff led all scorers with 18 points, with returning veteran Mamadi Diakite adding 15. Hauser, after transferring from Marquette, contributed 12.
Below are some of my brief takeaways from the scrimmage.
Huff was solid on offensive, but appears to have improved significantly on defense. Huff and fellow 7-footer, redshirt-freshman Francisco Caffaro, battled often for position under the basket, with Huff showing his experience and apparent muscle gain to win most of the battles.
Speaking of Caffaro, while he was of little threat offensively, he often held ground to Huff in the post, and was smooth in the offensive flow – he wasn’t clogging things up.
Diakite appeared to be a more complete player on offense, nailing a couple of threes and adding some strong post baskets. One thing to me was evident, Mamadi’s fling with the NBA was very productive. He was told what he lacked, and he obviously returned to Charlottesville and went to work.
Hauser, while a newcomer to the Cavalier program, clearly played like a three-year veteran. He was not tentative, has a very smooth stroke, and like Diakite was a threat from both outside and in the post. And as expected was solid defensively.
JUCO transfer Woldetensae looked a bit tentative at times and only briefly displayed his amazing long-range shooting ability. Woldetensae did handle the ball well, which Coach Bennett may have been seeking more than his scoring tenacity. Woldetensae’s experience in the backcourt fills an immediate need at point guard complementing Kihei Clark.
Highly touted freshmen Morsell was at times shaky handling the ball and will have to improve in order to see even limited playing time.
As usual its going to be up to the master Bennett and his staff to take the many moving pieces of this squad and develop into a more fluid rhythm, and provide a clearer picture of exactly what this team can accomplish this season.
Story by Scott German