Where does Evan Nolte fit in for UVA hoops?
Evan Nolte was languishing on the UVA bench in early February, grouped with the bigs, probably out of position, averaging just 6.9 minutes per game, and getting just 16 minutes total in the four games preceding Virginia’s Feb. 7 game with Louisville.
That’s when Justin Anderson went down with a broken finger. Nolte was suddenly thrust into action in place of Anderson, back to his natural position, at small forward.
Nolte didn’t exactly light up the night with his counting numbers – averaging 4.5 points per game on 38.1 percent shooting. But he led the team in one important stat line in that stretch: plus-minus, the score of the game when a particular player is on the floor.
Nolte said Wednesday at the program’s annual preseason Media Day that he will likely see the bulk of his time back at the three. The presumption going into the season is that coach Tony Bennett will look to sophomores Marial Shayok and Darius Thompson to start at the three in place of Anderson, a first-round draft pick of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, but don’t count out Nolte in that battle for minutes.
“It comes down to being disciplined and being able to read things down the floor, knowing what people’s strengths are,” Nolte said, by way of selling himself.
Nolte is an acquired taste. He’s not going to make anybody forget Anderson, who could posterize opponents on offense with dunks and on defense with his dramatic fast-break blocks; and both Shayok and Thompson will remind fans of JA with their abilities to shoot from the perimeter, get into the lane and muscle up opponents on the defensive end.
Nolte specializes in doing the little things that don’t necessarily show up in the box score – playing positional, team defense, making the extra pass, making opponents respect his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter.
“You’ve got to do the dirty work that helps a team be successful,” Nolte said. “I like to contribute however I can, whether that be scoring zero points and doing everything else, or scoring 10 points. It’s really just wherever I see myself fitting in and doing it off instincts.”
– Story by Chris Graham