UVA needs Mike Tobey to be a 10-8 guy for the Cavs to be able to win in March. That much is obvious. Tobey played to the level the Cavs need him at, scoring 10 points and pulling down eight rebounds in 16 minutes in Virginia’s 59-47 win at Syracuse on Monday.
Tobey entered the game at the 10-minute mark in the first half with UVA down 11-2. The ‘Hoos would not get back on the scoreboard again until an Evan Nolte three at the 6:06 mark, but Tobey’s presence – his size, his length – forced Syracuse to adjust its 2-3 zone to account for him.
The subtle openings in passing and driving lanes that resulted helped create some needed space for the stagnant Virginia offense, which took off after the Nolte three, scoring on its last nine possessions in the first half to turn what was at its worst point a 13-2 deficit into a 23-20 lead at the break.
Tobey only played six minutes in the second half, but his stat line – 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, eight rebounds – was just what the doctor ordered.
Tobey also did what was required defensively on Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas, who had 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting and just four rebounds in 39 minutes, facing a bevy of double-teams with Atkins, Tobey and Anthony Gill rotating as his primary defender.
Tobey was effective in his one-on-one effort on Christmas, kept him off the boards, and made the big man work in the post on the defensive end.
After getting just four minutes in the 69-57 win at home against Virginia Tech on Saturday, at the end of a five-game stretch in which he averaged 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game, Tobey was in danger of becoming an afterthought in coach Tony Bennett’s rotation.
Now he has something to build on for the stretch run, when the Cavs will need more nights like the one he had on Big Monday to cut down some nets.
– Column by Chris Graham