news postgame uva coach tony bennett players talk win st francis brooklyn

Postgame: UVA coach Tony Bennett, players talk win over St. Francis Brooklyn

virginia coach tony bennettUVA coach Tony Bennett and players Isaiah Wilkins, Marial Shayok, Austin Nichols and Mamadi Diakite talk with reporters after the Cavs’ 72-32 win over St. Francis Brooklyn.


UVA coach Tony Bennett

On what Austin [Nichols] and Mamadi’s [Diakite] play adds to the team: “I hope just playing harder for longer. Each of those players bring something different. You saw the athleticism of Mamadi blocking some shots. He made the nice baseline move for the dunk. Nice moves by Austin, Jared, Jack and Isaiah. So that is five guys for basically two spots, which is challenging, but it depends how the officials are calling it, the matchups, what we need. I want them to play really hard continuously. There is no reason for a group with that kind of depth to not play really hard and be really active. So that will be important and the same goes for the perimeter.”

On being able to smother the three-point shot today: “I think the competition is a little different when you are going against the ACC, but I like how we are scrambling and trying to contest shots. I think this team understands that we are going to have to be so good defensively, and that is going to be our ticket. We said that is mandatory for us. We know what we have to do, but will we do it, and that is on us, as coaches, when we practice and on the players to put that kind of effort forth. They [St. Francis Brooklyn] had quick little guards and they could jump up and shoot the three, and I thought that we struggled a little bit offensively early and our defense held us in there, but 3-point percentage defense will be important going forward.”

On if the balanced offensive statistics are something we should expect: “I think we are going to have to be more balanced. Certainly when some guys get hot, you work with them, but I think so. London was cold early, but he’s certainly capable of putting up big numbers. Mariel can score. We will see with Austin on how it goes when it comes to scoring, but I think this is more of a balanced scoring team, and I like that. It is nice to have guys that when you need a bucket can go get one, but so far that is the way it has played out in our scrimmages. Spain is not really a great indicator, but it was pretty balanced that way.”

On progress defensively: “I just think we want every possession to be a battle for the other team, and so far they have embraced that. We try to give them nothing easy. There were a couple transition buckets where we were not alert. Early we got lift-faked a couple times and they got into the lane, but for the most part, even though they were spread out, they did not get into our paint and all of the outside shots were contested. A couple of those they hit and you take your hat off. Yale will be a good indication with an improvement in competition in this next game.”


Junior Forward Isaiah Wilkins

On the depth in the front court and team’s ability to do different things: “I think that is one of our biggest strengths. I haven’t looked at the stats yet, but I know a lot of our guys contributed, not only offensively, but also in terms of blocks. I know Marial Shayok had a block and it is just good to have guys like that who have your back.”

On holding a team to under 20 points at the half: “I always glance at the scoreboard when we are running back after the first half. I saw we had them, so it is always good to see that.”

On prepping some new team members for JPJ: “I talked to Mamadi [Diakite] a little bit. He is the only one who hadn’t played in a game yet. I just told him to be confident in what he does. He has done it in practice and in the scrimmages, so just go out there and have fun, and he definitely did.”


Junior Guard Marial Shayok

On trimming down in the off-season: “I feel great. I don’t get as tired as easily. It has definitely helped throughout this summer and fall. I’m going to continue to eat healthy and work on my body. I lost about 20 pounds because I stopped eating Dominos and cookies.”

On coming off the bench: “I try to embrace it, come in, play hard, and maintain possession. I know I’m going to get in, play hard, and show everything I worked for this summer. I’m not really thinking about who is starting right now. I’m just going to trust coach.”

On the team going 0-10 outside the arc: “Try not to settle for threes and work from the inside out. We just need to get back to work and practice and keep shooting. Eventually, they will fall. We just have to come back the next day and work hard.”


Virginia Redshirt Junior Austin Nichols

On what his first game at JPJ felt like: “I was a little nervous at first, and then I got that first bucket assisted by Jarred [Reuter]. After that, it was a little less nerve-racking. Once the game went on, I was getting more comfortable.”

On his nerves: “It’s been a while, a whole year sitting out can do a lot mentally. I tried to stay strong and positive mentally and I think I did a good job of that. Getting a couple of buckets was definitely good for my mentality.”

On the defensive performance: “I think we did pretty well on the defensive end. Of course, there’s always a lot of stuff to work on, but I think we held them to around 13 points in the first half. If we could do that every game, that would be wonderful. It’s something we can go from and learn from and use to get better.”


Redshirt Freshman Mamadi Diakite

On the team’s depth in frontcourt positions: “It makes me more focused, because I’m new to the game. I need to learn from them, and also make sure that I don’t take it easy on them because I’m looking for a spot to play.”

On what he hopes to add to the team over the season: “Whatever the team needs. I like winning. I want to win a championship, hopefully a national championship. Whatever the team needs from me, I’ll do it. If I have to not score and block everything, I’ll do that. If I have to grab rebounds, I’ll do that. Whatever it is, whatever has to be done. I just like winning.”


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