Story by Chris Graham
Listen to today’s “SportsDominion Show” to hear UVa. basketball coach Dave Leitao talk about his team’s upcoming appearance in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. Show Length: 11:21.
Dave Leitao didn’t sound all that enthusiastic to me about his team’s appearance in the upcoming College Basketball Invitational, which is the Not In The Tournament tournament for those who couldn’t quite sneak their way into the NIT.
But after a couple of minutes, you could start to hear the fires beginning to burn.
“If you have any competitive bones or spirit in you, and they tell you that there are practices to go through and games to play, then that is excitable, or should be, anyway. And I think it is in our case, to our coaching staff, our players, fans, those who are interested in that particular team or school,” said Leitao, whose ‘Hoos (!5-15) will host Richmond (16-14) Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the opening round of the CBI.
The winner gets the winner of the Rider-Old Dominion contest that is also being played at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the second round of the 16-team tournament on March 24.
That’s three teams from Virginia in the CBI field, for those keeping score at home. Two others, VCU and Virginia Tech, are in the 32-team NIT field that tips off action Wednesday night – with VCU (24-7) matching up with Alabama-Birmingham (22-10) and the Hokies (19-12) squaring off with Morgan State (21-10) at 7 p.m.
If both win, they would face off with each other in a second-round game either later this week or early next week.
Only one team from the Commonwealth, George Mason (23-10), made the 65-team NCAA field. Mason, the 12th seed in the East Regional, faces fifth seed Notre Dame (24-7) on Thursday.
The conventional wisdom regarding tournaments like the NIT and CBI is that they allow teams to build for the future. Leitao, for his part, doesn’t subscribe to that theory.
“I don’t quite look at it like that. We’re not done with 2007-2008. So any thought process about 2008-2009 is clearly ahead of us. It has nothing to do with this,” Leitao told reporters today during a teleconference call.
The Cavs had better be ready for the Spiders, who feature a Princeton-style backdoor offense and play a 2-3 matchup zone that can give opponents fits.
“I’ve already watched two games, and I’ll watch at least one or two more today and tonight and tomorrow. By the time we get to practice at 3 o’clock, with one day preparation, it gets difficult,” Leitao said.
“You have to rely more on the things that you try day in and day out to do well than a specific game plan. Obviously you will put one in, and you’ll try to have attention to detail in it. But I’m sure it’s challenging for us and challenging for Richmond, and challenging for any team on one day prep to be able to have all the working knowledge that one needs to put together a typical scouting report and have all the guys locked into the nuances. Especially Richmond, because they play such a different style than one faces every day,” Leitao said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.