The last time we saw the Virginia Cavaliers in action Tony Bennett’s squad looked bad, as they were outclassed on both ends Monday night in a blowout loss at Tennessee. With their best win coming at the expense of SMU, the Cavaliers entered ACC play in need of more quality wins. But who are the Cavaliers? A team many felt had the pieces needed to contend in the ACC didn’t have the results to match that belief, and their conference opener at Florida State didn’t have the appearance of a game Virginia could use to get back on track.
That wasn’t the case in Tallahassee on Saturday evening, as Virginia limited the Seminoles to 17 first-half points in their 62-50 victory. What makes the result even more impressive is the fact that they lost leading scorer Joe Harris to an injury just over two minutes into the game.
Offensively Virginia was balanced, with Justin Anderson leading four players in double figures with 16 points and Akil Mitchell grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. The Cavaliers also grabbed 39.5% of its misses, taking advantage of an opponent that entered the game allowing an ACC-worst offensive rebounding percentage of 33.9%.
But with the Cavaliers shooting just 32.8% from the field, it was their defense that made the difference on Saturday. Florida State shot 30.8% from the field and 4-for-14 from beyond the arc, with the field goal percentage being well below the 48.7% Leonard Hamilton’s team was shooting entering Saturday. Add in 16 Seminole turnovers and it’s easy to see why Virginia was able to find a way to pick up a valuable win on the road.
So, who is Virginia? Honestly that remains a difficult question to answer, given the gap between their two performances this week. And there’s also the Harris injury to consider, because for as effective as Virginia was without him on Saturday they need him on the floor. We may still be without a definitive answer as to who the Cavaliers are and what their potential is but there’s still the talent needed to be a factor in the ACC, with Saturday’s result serving as a reminder.
Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab announced on Saturday that he’s been battling leukemia lymphoma.
The 6-foot-11 big man from Egypt has been receiving medical treatment since the beginning of April as he took to Twitter to announce his current status.
Sameh Azab played in 15 games this season for the Tigers as he saw action for 84 total minutes. The reserve big man was a late addition in former head coach Tubby Smith’s first recruiting class at Memphis as he didn’t quality to play during his first season.
“Karim has my full support and the support of our whole team,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said in a statement earlier this month. “While we appreciate the support of the Tiger family in this matter, we would also like to protect the privacy of Karim and his family.”
South Dakota State big man Mike Daum will enter the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent, he announced on Friday.
The 6-foot-9 redshirt junior has been a mid-major draft darling the past few seasons as Daum was one of the most productive players in the country last season. Putting up 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, Daum shot 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range during the season.
With his size and unique floor-spacing ability, Daum is going to be an interesting player to track during the NBA draft process. Teams are always looking for big men who can space the floor, and if Daum shoots well in workouts, he could wind up staying in the draft.
If Daum returns to South Dakota State, then he once again makes them a major NCAA tournament contender after the Jackrabbits won the Summit League last season.
Marquette pulled in a quality graduate transfer commitment on Friday as Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny pledged to the Golden Eagles.
The 6-foot-3 Chartouny was a three-year starter for the Rams as he should help offset the loss of guard Andrew Rowsey to graduation. While Chartouny isn’t nearly the perimeter threat that Rowsey was, he should be able to help significantly on the defensive end for Marquette. Chartouny put up 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game last season as he was one of the more productive all-around players in the Atlantic 10.
One of the nation’s leaders in steals the past three seasons, Chartouny has much better size to play alongside Markus Howard in the Marquette backcourt than Rowsey (5-foot-11) had. Since Howard is also 5-foot-11, Chartouny can now guard the bigger and more athletic perimeter matchup as Marquette tries to improve its porous defense from last season.
Marquette still has an open scholarship for next season as they’ve been investigating other transfer options to bolster the roster. Returning most of last season’s roster, the expectation will be for the Golden Eagles to make it back to the NCAA tournament next season.
Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.
Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.
Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.
Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.
“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”
Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.
He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.
Huerter is a borderline first round pick.