Scouting Report: Virginia

Arizona prepares for a strange game. Instead of continuing with the Preseason N.I.T., the Wildcats take a break and play a road game against Virginia. It is a nice test for the Wildcats and some good exposure on the East Coast. Join us during the game for updates and analysis in the CHAT ROOM.

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No. 10 Arizona (2-0) at Virginia (1-0)

Date: Sunday, Nov. 21, 2004
Time: 5 p.m. EST (3:00 in Tucson)
Location: University Hall (8,392), Charlottesville, Va.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Pregame: 12:00 noon on 1290 a.m. (Brad Allis, Pete Delgado, John Schuster, Ryan Radtke, Joe Nehls)
Postgame call-in show: 1290 a.m. approximately 30 minutes after the end of the game.
TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

Virginia at a glance:
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Arena: University Hall (8,392)
Coach: Pete Gillen 104-78 (378-206 overall)
Starters Returning: 4 (10 Lettermen)
Leading Scorer: Devin Smith (16 ppg)
Leading Rebounder: Elton Brown (12 rpg)
Leading Assists: Sean Singletary (7 apg)
Last Meeting: Arizona beat the Cavaliers 71-58 in the second round of the 1984 NCAA Tournament. It was the lone meeting between the schools.
Last Time Out: Arizona beat Wright State 83-66. The Cavaliers opened the season Friday night with an 88-55 win over Robert Morris.




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OVERVIEW:Before the season started Lute Olson joked that Arizona was starting the home and home with Virginia to let Dick Vitale know that "we play basketball west of the Mississippi." While the remark got a big chuckle, it wasn't entirely a joke. The Cats have recruited well across the nation and they want to ensure that East Coast recruits know more about them. This team already has players who prepped in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and North Carolina and they have been in on a number of players from out east in recent years.

This is also a game that looks good to the committee. Playing an ACC team on their home floor will boost the strength of schedule and could be a boost in seeding come March.

Virginia is a program that has been a bit down of late. At one time you could pencil them into the NCAA Tournament just about every year, but not so lately. The past few seasons have been more up and down than UVA fans have come to expect. Some have gone so far as to say that Pete Gillen's job is on the line this season. If that is the case, this game could mean more to the Cavs than it does the Wildcats. With a brutal ACC schedule ahead of them, Virginia may need all the quality wins they can get.

It's not that UVA does not have talent. This is a team that won six of their last ten games and advanced to the second round of the NIT. They have four starters back including Elton Brown who led them in both scoring and rebounding a year ago. Brown is a 6-1, 250-pound post player who finally started living up to his potential last season. He is a threat to get a double-double on any given night and could give the slighter Channing Frye some trouble.

Brown isn't the only physical player for Virginia. Both starting forwards are over 235 pounds. Jason Clark is a rugged, physical rebounder, while Devin Smith is a versatile player who can do some damage inside and out.

The early returns look very good for freshman Sean Singletary. Singletary was the high school player of the year last year in Philadelphia and started ahead of sophomore T.J. Bannister. Bannister was erratic early last season, and despite playing better down the stretch, lost his job to the newcomer. All Singletary did in his debut was dish out seven assists, while committing just a pair of turnovers. He'll be joined in the backcourt by J.R. Reynolds, a sophomore who can stroke it from the outside, as evidenced by his 3-4 night behind the arc against Robert Morris.

The Cavaliers have some decent depth. In addition to Bannister, they can turn to young forwards Gary Forbes and Adrian Joseph. They also have 6-11 freshman Tunji Soroye available, but he played just six minutes against Robert Morris, so you may not see him much against the Wildcats.

The Cats are talented and deep. They have athletes at every position, although they may count up to four freshmen to play quality minutes. Olson's team wants to run and they would love to get Virginia into a track meet. It's not that Virginia does not have athletes, they just don't get up and down the court the way the Wildcats do.

Arizona is led by Mustafa Shakur. The sophomore point guard is the key to the show. Although he isn't the most prolific scorer, the team runs much more efficiently with the Philadelphia native on the floor.

The Wildcats have two seniors who play huge roles. Salim Stoudamire is one of the nation's best outside shooters when his shot is falling. So far this season it has as he is averaging 22 points a game. Center Channing Frye is one of the better big men in the country, but has struggled a bit the first two games of the year. Teams have taken to pounding the athletic post player and he has been taken out of his game. The Cavs will do the same and if Frye is not ready to battle and take a pounding, the Cats could struggle.

Hassan Adams and Ivan Radenovic provide tough match-ups as well. Adams is a freak athlete, who can leap out of the building, but is also a workhorse down low. Ivan is a traditional European big man who at 6-10 can do his damage inside and out.

Chris Rodgers is a defensive stopper off the bench, while Jawann McClellan is a McDonald's All-American who is relegated to spot duty his first year in the program. The Cats also have size in reserve. Isaiah Fox and Mohamed Tangara are both 6-9 players who take up a lot of space in the middle. The key number may be 80. If Virginia can hold the Wildcats under 80 points, they have a decent shot at winning. If the Cats can force the Cavs to run they should be able to pull away.

KEY MATCH-UP: Frye vs. Brown. It is power vs. athleticism. Frye has struggled a bit this season. Both San Diego and Wright State have pounded him. He was completely taken out of his game against the Toreros. He was better against Wright State, but missed too many easy shots. Brown will be challenged as well. Frye will take him outside and use his quickness advantage.

OUTLOOK: The team that controls the pace wins. If Virginia can use their physicalness to disrupt the more finesse Wildcats, then they should prevail. If Arizona gets out and runs, then the visitors should be the victors.
Prediction: Arizona 83, Virginia 74

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