The assumption is that Virginia coach Tony Bennett is going to call timeout.
Instead, Bennett holds up three fingers. His team runs a play to get Tobey open in the post.
The seven-footer hits the baby hook, is fouled, and converts the and-one to push the lead back to 10.
“Yeah, we knew they’d make a run. They’re that good,” Bennett said after the Cavs had wrapped an 84-71 win over the Cyclones on Friday night in the Sweet 16. “They had missed some shots and we were shooting it so well, and to say we were going to keep that up, hard to say. So when they got it, I thought, maybe one more possession I would have called one, but we just thought we needed to go inside.
“That’s where I mentioned maybe we took a couple just okay shots and not good ones, but those were big plays. I was so happy to see what Mike did.”
Tobey finished with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
The mercurial senior has had what you could charitably call an up-and-down season – scoring in double figures 10 times, while also putting up two goose eggs, with five two-point games, and that 15 and 20 game in the regular-season finale against Louisville.
In his last seven, Tobey had averaged 9.7 points and 7.1 rebound per game on 66.7 percent shooting.
Good Tobey makes Virginia a dangerous team, no question.
“When Mike comes out and he’s aggressive and confident and plays like that, the way he’s been playing, we’re another level team. He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and we’re happy he’s doing that,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said.
Coach Tony Bennett has done a nice job managing Tobey’s minutes to put the big man in the best position to be successful.
Friday night, Bennett used Tobey alongside Anthony Gill for stretches to try to stretch Iowa State defensively, to basically flip the tables from what had been the pregame script, that had it that Virginia would have a tough time matching up with versatile ISU big man Georges Niang.
“What we thought was if Mike and Anthony are on the floor, they have to contend with that,” Bennett said. “Niang is going to have to guard one of those two, or (Jameel) McKay will have some potential good match-ups. So the fact we could hold our own defensively, and even when they scored, we knew had some things going on on the offensive end, so that’s why that pairing together was significant, and then the size was big, too.”
Tobey played size to his advantage, with four offensive rebounds leading to three stickback baskets.
“When they took McKay out, I had a size advantage, so I really just tried to take advantage of that,” Tobey said. “That’s something we work on in practice if there’s an advantage, trying to get the ball to whoever has the advantage, so just really tried to execute off that. Teammates did a great job of feeding me the ball when I had the advantage, as well.”
Story by Chris Graham