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Virginia basketball holds annual Blue-White Scrimmage

Incoming players featured for the first time before Cavalier fans

<p>Coach Tony Bennett and the men's basketball team started their title defense with a successful scrimmage that gave fans an exclusive look at the new recruits.&nbsp;</p>

Coach Tony Bennett and the men's basketball team started their title defense with a successful scrimmage that gave fans an exclusive look at the new recruits. 

Virginia basketball held its annual Blue-White Scrimmage for the men’s and women’s teams Saturday afternoon. The women’s team kicked off the preseason basketball action at 3 p.m. and were followed by the men at 4 p.m. 

Women’s Basketball

Women’s basketball looked to set the tone for a rebound season, as the inaugural season of Coach Tina Thompson’s tenure garnered only five ACC wins. Although the women’s team fell to the practice squad 46-45, it was a step forward for a team that only returns five upperclassmen from the 2018-19 campaign.

Senior guard and forward Jocelyn Willoughby was excellent for the Cavaliers, posting 13 points on the afternoon. Willoughby was stellar both inside the paint and from the perimeter and looks poised to once again lead Virginia in her final season. 

Freshman guard Carole Miller also saw a lot of action for the Cavaliers, as she had seven points over the two halves of play. Miller was ranked the No. 82 player in the country when she signed with Virginia and should contribute solid minutes for Thompson. 

Virginia struggled at times with shooting, finishing 14-33 from the field. Although the game was not played under normal conditions, this mark is an improvement from the Cavaliers’ percentage last year — they shot just 35.9 percent from the field. 

Women’s basketball has six freshmen — many of whom will see a lot of action this year — and a bright future. The Cavaliers are poised to improve on their 12-19 record from last year.

Women’s basketball kicks off their 2019-20 season Nov. 5 against Bucknell at John Paul Jones Arena. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra. 

Men’s Basketball

The men’s basketball team followed the women with an intrasquad scrimmage. Although the team was split between blue and white, Coach Tony Bennett mixed up the players after two 10-minute periods.

Senior forward Mamadi Diakite and senior transfer forward Sam Hauser — who is sitting out the 2019-20 season due to NCAA transfer regulations — stood out for Virginia. Diakite had 15 points, while Hauser posted 12 points.

Diakite looked the part of a potential NBA draft pick, as he showed poise both inside and on the perimeter. Last year, Diakite hit just five three-pointers for the Cavaliers, but during the scrimmage he sank two threes — much to the excitement of the Virginia fans. 

Junior center Jay Huff — who averaged 4.4 points and 2.1 rebounds last year — also made waves during the scrimmage, with a couple big dunks, including a put-back over freshman forward Kadin Shedrick. Huff posted 18 points over the four periods and displayed improved physicality on both sides of the ball.

New additions to the team also looked solid. Shedrick — who may redshirt this season for further development — freshman forward Justin McKoy, freshman guard Casey Morsell and junior transfer guard Tomas Woldetensae all featured in their first appearances in a Virginia uniform.

Morsell demonstrated his perimeter shooting ability with six points, while Shedrick was able to convert a dunk in the paint against redshirt freshman Francisco Caffaro. Shedrick did struggle at times inside against the more experienced Caffaro, but showed flashes of excellence that will serve Virginia well in the coming years.

Although McKoy looked unsure at times when handling the ball, he was nonetheless effective at getting open on the perimeter and driving to the basket with his 6-foot-8, 221-pound frame. Woldetensae — who shot 47.6 percent from the three-point line in junior college — should be crucial for the Cavaliers’ three-point prowess, while also adding physicality and a passing flair.

Although men’s basketball lost six crucial pieces to their 2018-19 run to the national championship, the team will not change its identity. The pack line defense and the efficient blocker-mover offense were on display Saturday. Virginia fans should be excited for the future of men’s basketball. 

Men’s basketball starts their title defense Nov. 6 against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted on the ACC Network.