Let's get this out there -- George Washington is a good team. They will likely earn a spot in the NCAA tournament come March, although as Virginia fans, we can sort of turn our noses up at GW, a non-BCS school (as though that matters in March Madness -- Hi, VCU!).
Here are a couple things I learned tonight:
1. Free throws will be haunting us all season long.
UVA shot 62.5% from the charity stripe, but that doesn't really tell the story, as the Hoos shot 42.9% in the first half. This was a problem that plagued the Hoos last year and appears to continue to be an Achilles' heel for Virginia. Yep, lookin' at you, Mike Tobey, 0-2, off of and-1s.
2. Speaking of Tobey, turns out he's not actually more aggressive this year.
After watching the first couple games, I genuinely believed that Tobey, having gained lean muscle mass over the summer and generally looking bulkier but leaner at the same time, was more aggressive this year. I was actually happy that Tobey fouled out after the first game, because it showed to me that he's going hard on every possession. After tonight's game, though, everything's in the air again. Tobey didn't look to be going strong on the boards, and even on what should have been some simple layups, he opted for the soft-touch finger roll than the stronger putback. Tobey only had five rebounds on the game, 3 on offense and 2 on defense, and I'm pretty sure that all three of the offensive boards may have come on the same possession.
3. Is Tony Bennett starting to settle on role players?
After experimenting a little bit with the first few games, it looks like Bennett may be starting to get more comfortable with the players and their individual strengths and weaknesses. Neither Devon Hall nor BJ Stith saw any game time tonight. Similarly to last year, when Bennett started with anywhere from 10-12 folks on the regular rotation and then scaled down from there, it seems to be the case that Bennett this year too is starting to whittle down the team to perhaps an 8 or 9 man rotation.
Really tough first half for the Hoos, who trailed 22-26 heading into the locker room, but good on them for coming out strong in the second half to regain the leader early on in that half.
Virginia faces Tennessee State, who comes to Charlottesville on November 25.