Mika-Spark Plug

Story by Chris Graham

Listen to “The SportsDominion Show” interview with UVa. basketball coach Dave Leitao. Show Length: 11:38.

mikalauskaslaurynas.gifuvaswords.jpgWant to know the key that turns the UVa. basketball engine?
OK, so that’s Sean Singletary.
But the internal combustion comes from a guy named Lars.
“It just confirms what I had been thinking to myself and watching in practice every day,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao told reporters during his weekly teleconference today, talking about the play of power forward Lars Mikalauskas, who returned last week from a shoulder injury and provided a needed spark in a narrow loss at home to North Carolina and a win on the road at Boston College.

Mikalauskas scored four points in 13 minutes in the 75-74 loss to UNC, then scored 13 points (on 6-of-7 shooting) in 18 minutes in the 79-74 win at BC.

More important than the numbers, though, is the energy and emotion that he takes with him to the floor.

“When you talk specifically about him, obviously he provides the kind of energy that we can see and that he does with his game that is something that we have been obviously trying to survive without. And whether it’s points, rebounds or just presence, I think he’s been a positive presence for us, not just in the two games, but also in the practices since he’s been back,” Leitao said.

He can be a bit too emotional and energetic, as a near-disastrous outburst toward the end of the Boston College game almost demonstrated.
“That’s probably been part of the challenge, that other than Sean, without having Lars in the lineup, we suffer from not having more emotional people,” Leitao said. “One of the comments that I said to my staff this morning is that his emotional outbursts could have cost us the game yesterday, because it came at such late stages, and if he’d gotten a tech, and it wasn’t a double-tech, free throws could have tied it, and they could have gone ahead with the possession, and what-have-you. But at the same point in time, I don’t know first half, second half, late-game, whatever, that there are a whole lot of other guys on our team that would be so emotional to have that kind of outburst, whether it be positive or negative.”

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.

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