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‘Secret scrimmage’ intel: High ceiling for Tony Bennett, UVA Basketball in 2022-2023

Chris Graham
tony bennett uva basketball
Photo: UVA Athletics

The intel getting to us from the “secret scrimmages” seems to indicate that UVA Basketball coach Tony Bennett will be going with the same starting five as last season, and also, that this will be a good thing.

There’s been question among fans and observers about how another year of Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman having to co-exist as co-point guards will work.

Word from the UConn scrimmage is that Clark had double-digit assists in a matchup that the ‘Hoos controlled from the opening tip.

Now, yes, you have to take everything from these scrimmages with a grain of salt – because coaches, in addition to using them as assessment tools, also use them to experiment a good bit with lineup and rotation combinations.

That said, the sense is, having both Clark and Beekman in the lineup, with shooters to space the floor – in the form of returning starter Armaan Franklin, grad transfer Ben Vander Plas and freshman Isaac McKneely – is going to give Bennett the right chemistry on the offensive end.

Lineups featuring Clark, Beekman and Franklin, all elite defenders, should certainly improve on last year’s surprising step back on that end.

The first few weeks will no doubt see Bennett tweaking his rotation against a pretty tough non-conference schedule, which might get us to Jan. 1 with a couple or more losses that could have you thinking that the preseason talk about this team being capable of making a deep run in March being a bit much.

Assuming that no one significant is lost to injury, I’m seeing this season playing out less like certainly 2018-2019, when Bennett had an established team that was playing toward doing something interesting in March from the opening tip, and more like 2013-2014, which saw a talented group lose early to VCU, Wisconsin, Green Bay and the memorable beatdown at Tennessee to win the ACC regular-season and tournament titles and earn a #1 NCAA Tournament seed.

The ceiling for this year’s group is that high, so strap yourself in and get ready for the ride.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris has won 17 Virginia Press Association awards for his work as an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist. Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, Want to reach Chris? Try [email protected].