Before we fully move on to this season - which starts in 29 short days - it is only appropriate to take a quick look back on last season.
The 2015-2016 season was a memorable for Virginia fans with the Hoos making the Elite Eight for the first time since the movie Outbreak was reigning supreme at the box office.
Tony Bennett and the boys finished with a 29-8 record, with a 13-5 ACC record. The Cavaliers did not lose a game at John Paul Jones Arena, going 15-0 on the season. Virginia climbed to a fifth place finish in the USA Today Coaches Poll and third in KenPom by the end of the season.
Fifth year superstar Malcolm Brogdon led the charge for Virginia, averaging 18.1 points per game, in the country’s slowest offense. Big man Anthony Gill shot 58% from the field and third year London Perrantes was a scorching 49% from beyond the arc.
Here’s a quick recap of the highlights (and some lowlights) of the season.
The Out of Conference
11/13/15 - The No. 6 Hoos started hot with an 86-48 win over Morgan State.
11/16/15 - Game two...first loss. Virginia couldn’t get anything going on the road against a tough George Washington squad.
11/22/15 - CHARLESTON CLASSIC CHAMPS. Hoos defeated George Mason 83-66 for their third straight early season title.
12/01/15 - Virginia pulled their weight in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with a 64-58 win over Ohio State on the road.
12/08/15 - The first of three straight challenging games. No. 10 Virginia defeated Coach Huggins and the Mountaineers in the Big Apple, 70-54, behind a double-double from Gill (12 rebounds, 20 points).
12/19/15 - A strong second half performance led the No. 8 Cavaliers over the eventual national champs (No. 12 Villanova), 86-75, at JPJ.
12/22/15 - The No.10 Hoos needed an absolute monster of a shot from Perrantes in overtime, but the good guys eked out a 63-62 victory in one of the most exciting games of the season. First year Jarred Reuter kept the Cavaliers in the game as the offense struggled early. He finished with 11 points.
The Start of ACC Play
01/02/16 - No. 5 Virginia started the New Year by continuing their recent success over Notre Dame with a 77-66 win.
01/04/16 - Cavaliers can’t pull off the road win in Blacksburg, starting some murmurs about the road abilities of the team. Hoos lose to the Hokies 70-68.
01/09/16 - Things don’t get better as Virginia falls again on the road, this time at Georgia Tech, 68-64.
01/17/16 - The Hoos pulled off a home win against Miami, but panic set in as Florida State beats Virginia 69-62 in Tallahassee.
01/24/16 - Back to back home wins pushed Virginia’s ACC record to 4-3 with another road trip looming at Wake Forest.
The Turning Point
01/26/16 - I’m not sure there’s been a more improbable comeback in Virginia basketball history. The No. 11 Hoos were down 70-63 to the Demon Deacons, on the road, with 15 seconds left when Perrantes found Marial Shayok in the corner for a three to make it 70-66.
Some quick fouling, two misses by Devin Thomas, and Uncle Brogdon in room made it 70-69 with 4.7 seconds left. Bryant Crawford made one of two, and the door was still open.
Perrantes found Shayok around mid-court (WHY did they not guard the inbounds play?!), who got a bounce pass to Darius Thompson. For reference, Darius hadn’t taken a shot in the game, and hadn’t made a three pointer in over a month.
The bank stays open late, y’all.
Seriously, it was insane, and appeared to change the team.
The Meat of the ACC
01/30/16 - UVA looked like a whole new squad as they traveled to No. 16 Louisville and absolutely DESTROYED the Cardinals 63-47. Yes, that says 47, as in fewer than 50.
02/09/16 - The No. 7 Hoos got revenge on the Hokies as they held their fourth straight opponent to 50 points or less.
02/13/16 - Everyone knows he walked. Everyone.
02/22/16 - No. 3 Virginia can’t close out the game on the road against Miami, falling 64-61
02/27/16 - GAMEDAY. Before tip-off of No. 3 UVA vs. No. 7 UNC, Rece, Jay, Jay, and Seth returned for their second straight season at JPJ. The atmosphere was electric, Jay Williams crowd surfed, and Andrew Broad channeled his inner Darius Thompson and banked in a three to win bank.
If possible, the game was more exciting. Brogdon dropped 26 in the game as Virginia picked up a signature win over the Tar Heels and helped solidify their one-seed resume.
03/05/16 - Oh, Louisville. No. 4 Virginia cruised to a cool 20 point win – holding Louisville to under 50 points again with a 68-48 final score - over the No. 11 Cardinals on senior (fourth year) night. Mike Tobey went to town on Louisville in his “reckless abandon” game with 15 points and 20 rebounds.
When Caid hit that three...no, YOU’RE crying.
The win pushed Virginia to 24-6 (13-5 ACC) and earned them the second seed in the ACC tournament.
03/12/16 - Virginia notched a 72-52 win over Georgia Tech and a 73-68 victory over Miami before falling in one of the most entertaining, well-played, back and forth games with North Carolina in the ACC title game, 61-57.
Virginia was selected as the top seed in the Midwest in the NCAA tournament, playing their opening round games in Raleigh, NC.
03/17/16 - The Hoos handle Hampton easily with an 81-45 win. Gill put up 19 points in the win.
03/19/16 - Another exciting game as Virginia faced Butler, pulling away late for the 77-69 victory. Brogdon had 22 points, but his biggest impact came defensively as he took over on Andrew Chrabascz who was in the midst of a season-high 25 point performance. Of those 25 points, one of them came in the last 15 minutes of the game when Brogdon switched to pick him up.
Virginia was back in the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in three years.
03/25/16 - The clash of styles. Virginia, the slow-down defensive juggernaut vs. Iowa State, the team that loved to run and gun (and press).
The Hoos crushed it, winning a spot in the Elite Eight with an 84-71 victory over the Cyclones behind a 56% shooting day and 23 points from Gill. Virginia never trailed in the game.
03/27/16 - Well, Syracuse finally got that elusive win over Virginia as a member of the ACC. It just came at a terrible time. The Cavaliers played fantastically throughout the first half, but a due to a lethal combination of bad press breaking, bad luck, and the ridiculously hot hand of Malachi Richardson, Brogdon et al saw their dream of the Final Four slip through their fingers in a 68-62 loss.
Brogdon, Gill, Tobey, Evan Nolte, and Caid Kirven graduated from the Virginia program after the 2015-2016 season. They left the program in a better state than they found it, working hard day in and day out to achieve continued success that Wahoo fans haven’t experienced in decades.
For his performance throughout the course of the season, Malcolm Brogdon was named ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year, the first player to take both titles. He was also the first Virginia ACC POY since – you guessed it – Ralph Sampson. On top of that, Brogdon was named a unanimous first-team All-American and earned a spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll as he finished his Masters in Public Policy.
While the end result was absolutely heart wrenching, this 2015-2016 team was something incredibly special. Weeping did endure for the night, but the joy (eventually) came in the morning.