Monday, October 18, 2010

Virginia Loses Sammy Zeglinski To Knee Surgery

Virginia's Sammy Zeglinski will miss an indeterminate amount of time after injuring his left knee. He will have surgery and they will determine during his rehab how quickly he can come back. He's not the only casualty so far for the Cavaliers, as true freshman forward James Johnson sprained his ankle. Johnson's injury, however, appears to be minor. He shouldn't miss any games at all.

In some sense, losing Zeglinski is a big deal. He started every game for them last season, led the team in assists, was third on the team in points scored, and is the best returning outside shooter. Virginia won't be nearly as good without him.

The thing is, this injury can be something of a blessing in disguise. Even though it makes the team worse this season, this wasn't going to be a successful year for them anyway. Tony Bennett has completely blown up the team he inherited - with four players leaving for the exits and a huge recruiting class coming in.

Tony Bennett is not just one of the best young coaches in college basketball - he's one of the best coaches period. But he coaches a very specific style, and it requires a very specific type of player, and his new recruits reflect that philosophy. The Zeglinski injury will give more playing time to some of these young players to see just what they're made of. Shooting guard K.T. Harrell is the highest rated recruit in the class, but Billy Barron might be the player that Virginia fans are most excited about. And as a point guard, Barron's minutes were going to be stunted with Zeglinski in front of him on the depth chart.

The way Bennett coaches, his team will be pesky all year. They'll play hard-nosed, intense basketball, and they'll keep games low scoring. But when the dust settles they're going to be far outside of postseason contention, even with a fully healthy squad. This season will be about Bennett getting to see what his young kids can do against intra-conference opposition so he'll be able to evaluate just what changes need to be made to make the team competitive in the ACC again. And I don't think it will take him too long to get his team there.

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