More than numbers: Mike Tobey key to Virginia win

mike tobeyVirginia senior Mike Tobey played all of one minute in the first half Saturday before going to the bench with two fouls, and finished with two points and one rebound in 11 minutes.

To hear UVA coach Tony Bennett tell it, Tobey may have been the player of the game.

Tobey re-entered Saturday’s game with Villanova with 16:27 to go, and the Cavs down one. When he subbed out at the 8:46 mark, Virginia was up, 55-45, on their way to an 86-75 victory.

Bennett credited Tobey’s ability to defend Villanova post player Daniel Ochefu without needing help from post-to-post doubles, with keying the defense that keyed the turnaround.

“When he came in and guarded Ochefu one-on-one, we didn’t have to trap. I thought that was pivotal for us,” Bennett said.

“He really did a good job for stretches on defense.  I think that was a little thing that made a big difference,” Bennett said.

It’s not been the senior season that Tobey or UVA fans expected. Through 10 games, the seven-footer is averaging 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and he’s been seeing his playing time dwindle of late, getting 11 minutes Saturday against ‘Nova and just six in Virginia’s 70-54 win over West Virginia on Dec. 8.

Bennett said upon putting Tobey into the game on Saturday, “I told him, You’re a foul magnet. You’ve got to figure this out. You’re picking up these fouls so quick. We can’t keep you out there.”

The two-foul first half proved Bennett prophetic. The solid defensive effort in the second half showed Tobey’s value to the Cavs.

“It’ll go unnoticed, but not to me,” Bennett said.

– Story by Chris Graham

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