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Fresh look gives Cavs debut win

Dismantling of Longwood marks dawn of Bennett era

Returning ACC Rookie of the YearSylven Landesberg stressed that the 2009-10 season was not simply about improving his level of play but the play of those around him as well - a philosophy that was evident as soon as the sophomore guard assisted junior forward Mike Scott in scoring the first points of Virginia's season-opening win against Longwood on Friday.

In the 85-72 victory against the Lancers, Landesberg led the Cavaliers with 23 points and four assists. For various reasons, including sophomore center Assane Sene's suspension, Virginia relied on a small line-up that required Landesberg to play the power forward position.

"We got to work with what we got, Landesberg said. "In practice I have to basically know the one through four. At first it was real hard knowing all the roles and knowing the positions I got to be in, but I got used to it."

Though Landesberg was out of position for most of the game, he still pulled in six rebounds. With Landesberg at the four position, Scott was rotated to center, where he led the team with a game-high 13 rebounds - more than doubling the output of the next closest player despite having suffered an injury during Virginia's most recent scrimmage.

"I thought we got to the lane pretty well," coach Tony Bennett said of the team's overall performance. "We probably could have gone inside to Mike more but when we needed to get a bucket we got him a few touches, which I thought was important."

Junior guard Jeff Jones, who scored 10 points, was one of five Virginia players to achieve double digits in the game.

Although the Cavaliers secured the win, Bennett stressed that the squad still needs to improve in certain areas - especially defense.

"We struggled a little bit defensively in the second half," Bennett said. "To give up that many points, that's discouraging. It's not secret - we've got a lot of work to do. It's going to be a long journey that way."

Virginia led 49-27 at the half, holding the Lancers to only 40 percent shooting from the field. In the second half, however, Longwood out-scored the Cavaliers 45-36, shooting 55 percent.

"Lack of focus, I would say," sophomore guard Sammy Zeglinski said about Virginia's lapse in defense. "We got a little too comfortable. They just kind of sped us up a little bit."

With a new coaching staff, a style change in Virginia's play was expected. Whereas the Cavaliers tried to play an up-tempo style last season, Bennett has emphasized quality possessions, which aim to produce high-percentage shots. Against the Lancers, though, Virginia had only 14 assists compared to 16 turnovers.

"As a point guard, I need to be able to kind of control [the speed of the game]." Zeglinski said. "If they went on a run I should have just slowed it down, got it settled, run some offensive sets."

Although Zeglinski's total of five turnovers was greater than any other team member's, he also led the team in three pointers, shooting 4-7 from beyond the arc.

"He did some good things for us," Bennett said. "He's got experience ... I thought he had some nice stretches."

The versatility demonstrated by Virginia may also foreshadow future games.

"We will probably have to be flexible [in the positions our athletes play]." Bennett said. "I think it will change. South Florida has got a couple big guys inside so that will present a challenge."

The Bulls have three athletes 6 feet 10 inches or taller that the Cavaliers must find a way to contend with as they face South Florida tonight in Tampa.

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