Home Mailbag: Lack of respect for Virginia Basketball from AP, Milicic thriving in Charlotte

Mailbag: Lack of respect for Virginia Basketball from AP, Milicic thriving in Charlotte

Chris Graham
Photo: UVA Athletics

With a little under a third of the college basketball season in the books, I see our ‘Hoos are ranked #22. Safely in the field as of now probably a three or four seed.

That’s all well and good, but as I peruse the Top 25, I am starting to think it really doesn’t matter that much. There are at least 10 maybe 15 teams that UVA is better than, in my opinion. Sure, the SOS factors in, but what do these guys have to do to get some Top 15 or Top 10 love? They hammered a pretty good Texas A&M team, right? Beating Syracuse like a drum doesn’t carry the cache it once did when Boeheim was there.

I can’t help but think UVA has to work harder and do more to get respect. Maybe the early March Madness edits weigh in the minds of some voters. Charlottesville will never be a breeding ground for one-and-dones. The offense isn’t run-and-gun like some of the blue bloods. And that’s OK. It has been more exciting this year, but if we are honest, it is at times still boring, slow and deliberate. And that’s fine with me.

I wonder what your take is, in any on UVA being undervalued, or should I be a little more patient and watch us rise in the poll once conference play gets serious. Much thanks.

– B.P.

Polls don’t matter to me, at this time of year, especially.

Just look at the CFP. They had FSU fourth for two weeks after Jordan Travis was lost for the season, then dropped them to fifth because all the sudden, they weren’t better than Alabama, which was eighth in the final regular-season poll.

Polls are a beauty pageant. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and, yeah, Virginia doesn’t always win pretty.

I see a high ceiling for this Virginia team, assuming it continues to get better on offense.

Right now, the offense ranks just 77th on KenPom (the defense is fifth: nice).

I wrote a column last week detailing how the tweaks that Tony Bennett and Co. made after the trip down to South Florida have the offense scoring at a more efficient clip.

Assuming we continue to flourish there, this team has potential to play for a while in March.

The challenge will be getting enough rebounding with the lineups that are better at shooting the ball.

– Chris


Igor Milicic Jr.
Igor Milicic Jr. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Papi made an odd transfer decision. Santa Clara already had a promising 7’1” rising sophomore, Christin Tilly, so splitting time is the most he could have hoped for. He’s doing that and playing pretty well. Together they are averaging almost 15 points and nine rebounds a game, but there’s no pathway for Caffaro to be playing more than about 20 minutes a game.

Another player to keep an eye on is Igor Milicic, who is averaging 13 and 9 with 41 percent three-point shooting for Charlotte after a so-so season last year. It seems to me that Tony was pretty quick to discard him, presumably in favor of Isaac Traudt.  It will be interesting to see if he maintains that level of production.

– Jim Gillespie

I remember Milicic, a 6’10” perimeter shooter, being a bit of a crowd favorite in that one year in Charlottesville, back in 2021-2022.

OK, it was brief – he had 11 points in a November win over Coppin State, and nine points, on three threes, in a December win over Farleigh Dickinson.

Milicic got 10 minutes in Virginia’s next game, then a total of 17 minutes the rest of that season.

A big who can shoot threes is a perfect fit into the offensive scheme that Bennett now prefers, and then on top of that, Milicic can rebound – even last year, in limited minutes, he averaged 7.8 boards per 40 minutes; this season, he’s averaging 11.1 rebounds per 40.

Against Duke last weekend, Milicic had eight points (4-of-10 FG), six rebounds and four blocks in 36 minutes.

Yeah, we could use that.

– Chris

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].