Virginia Hopes Nation's Top Defense Will Once Again Carry Them


For a team that ranked third to last in the NCAA in scoring a year ago, Virginia enters the 2020-2021 campaign with the substantial challenge of replacing 40-percent of their points from last season. 

The departures of big man Mamadi Diakite (13.3 pts) and wing Braxton Key (9.9 pts) will make offense even harder to come by in Charlottesville and put an even greater strain on the defense to remain the best in the country as it was in 2019-2020.

Watch UVA at the 2020 Bubbleville LIVE on FloHoops!

But of course, defensive dominance has been the hallmark of the Tony Bennett era at UVA, and the Cavaliers’ No. 4 preseason ranking reflects the overwhelming expectation that this team will continue to hound opponents into submission. Surrendering only 52.4 points/game-- the best in the country by over a point-- can cover up a lot of shortcomings.

To be sure, Virginia will miss Diakite-- a prolific shot blocker and elite perimeter defender-- just as much for preventing points as scoring them, but a program that has consistently ranked at the top of college basketball defensively for over a decade isn’t reliant on specific personnel to remain elite.

The Hoos, led by junior guard Kihei Clark and senior transfer Sam Hauser, open their season on Nov. 25 against Maine (2:00 PM on FloHoops), a team that knows all too well how suffocating Bennett’s group can be. The Black Bears managed just 26 points on 18-percent shooting a year ago, the lowest point total Virginia allowed all season.

The 5’9 Clark runs the UVA offense and brings invaluable experience as a crucial piece from the team’s title run two years ago. His 5.9 assists/game ranked 24th in the country, and coming off a career-high average of 10.8 points per contest the junior will be a double-double threat every night. Clark is a pass-first point, but he also knocked down 38-percent of his threes last season.

Speaking of threes, Virginia should find plenty of space in the paint by stretching the floor with Marquette transfer Sam Hauser. The 6’8 Hauser and his 40-percent three-point shooting will be a welcome addition for Coach Bennett’s offense if he can replicate the 88 treys he recorded in 2018-2019 for the Golden Eagles. Hauser cleans the glass well, too, to the tune of 7.2 per game that same season.

Highlighted by wing Jabri Abdur-Rahim and guard Reece Beekman, Virginia also brings in two freshmen who could contribute right away. Abdur-Rahim, a 6’7 slasher who can score from 15 feet in, is the son of former All-Star and 13-year NBA veteran Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

As usual, Virginia isn’t going to wow you with future lottery picks like some of their ACC counterparts, but their experienced roster and ability to play consistently stout defense gives them an edge despite a talent deficit relative to the likes of Duke and North Carolina. 

Fatts Russell Is Steady Presence Atop Rhode Island's New-Look Roster

Fatts Russell

The Rhode Island men figure to lean heavily on leading scorer and preseason A10 first team member Fatts Russell in 2020-2021 as they look to fill the void left by three departed starters from last season.

San Diego State, Washington Tangle At Women's Vegas Bubble


A season of inevitable schedule changes and new faces for the Washington and San Diego State women’s basketball programs begins on Tuesday night. 

Mark Byington & Takayo Siddle Hired To New CAA Positions During A Pandemic

Mark Byington

There’s usually a certain chaotic cadence to a Division I men’s basketball coaching search.

Replacing Nathan Knight Is A Tall Order For William & Marry In CAA Hoops

Nathan Knight, W&M

Dane Fischer didn’t waste much time during CAA media day last week discussing the elephant in the room — or, more accurately, the 6-foot-10 big man no longer in the Tribe’s locker room.

Towson's Zane Martin Earns James Harden Comparisons In Tigers Return

Zane Martin

Roughly 1,900 miles separate Towson, Maryland, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. That’s a distance Zane Martin has traversed twice in his college basketball odyssey. 

CSUN, Air Force, Seattle Square Off In Vegas Bubble


In 2020, non-conference games are a premium in NCAA basketball. Teams are heading into “bubbles” all across the country in hopes of getting a few games in before their conference schedule begins. Las Vegas will play host to three teams--Cal State Northridge, Air Force, Seattle University--aiming to log some wins before the meat of their schedule in December. 

Florida Has A Need For Speed After Sluggish Season

Keyontae Johnson

Coming off a disappointing 19-12 campaign, the Florida Gators are committed to speeding up an offense that was among the slowest in college basketball a year ago.

Charlotte Hornets Select Charleston's Grant Riller In Round 2 Of NBA Draft


RICHMOND, Va. – College of Charleston’s Grant Riller, a three-time Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) First Team selection, was chosen in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft, held on Wednesday night.

Top Prospect Emoni Bates Kicks Off His Junior Year At Hoopfest


Before his junior year in high school, Emoni Bates has already appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, been named Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year and drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant. He’s unanimously regarded as the top player in high school and CBS’ Gary Parrish says Bates’ “can’t miss” status reminds him of another hoops phenom.