The Virginia basketball team finished its preseason trip to Spain, winning all five exhibition games it played against three different area teams.
Here's a look at the opponents and scores of the games, mainly pieced together from Jeff White's recaps on VirginiaSports.com and video from VirginiaSportsTV, the sole outlets of information from the team's trip.
|Austin Nichols/Kyle Guy (17)
|Austin Nichols/Marial Shayok (14)
|Jay Huff (14)
|Sant Julia All-Stars
|London Perrantes (14)
|Sant Julia All-Stars
|Austin Nichols (14)
The team started the trip with two games in Madrid against a local summer league team. After a relatively easy opening win, Coach Bennett warned the team that "old guys" like their opponents would come back playing for pride. And, sure enough, the Hoos trailed their opponents until a Ty Jerome three-pointer with 12 seconds left gave UVA a two-point lead.
After a day off and some zip-lining, the Hoos took on Arcos Abacete in Barcelona. Albacete, who was recently promoted into the Spanish League's third-tier league (LEB Plata), was easily over-matched. They managed only four second-quarter points, as UVA extended a lead of 25 points at halftime and 37 points at the end of the third quarter. The highlights, below, show the Hoos overwhelming their opponents defensively and on the boards, with newcombers Ty Jerome and De'Andre Hunter each grabbing 4 steals:
Virginia finished with two games against the Sant Julia All-Stars in Sant Julia de Vilatoria, another town in the Barcelona area. In the first, the team overcame a slow start (Kyle Guy admitted the team "wasn't mentally there" in the first half, coming off a few days of sight-seeing), but London Perrantes took over late to push a narrow lead up to 10. The Hoos came back with a crisper performance in Game 5 to complete the trip with an easy win.
So, what can we gather from the team's exhibition tour? We fans can take in the early highlights of the team in action and some some fun dunks too (like the three one-handed jams between 2:00 and 2:40 in the "Game 5" above). The players can reap the benefits of 10 days of extra practice time and additional opportunities to play together, and the coaches could get some early insight on how the rotation could potentially look. De'Andre Hunter was the only Wahoo to play in all five games, so the staff had plenty of time to experiment with different lineups.
Austin Nichols was probably the star of the trip, leading scoring in three of the four games he played and showing up often in the highlights. The front court rotation will be ultra-competitive, as Isaiah Wilkins and Mamadi Diakite will see plenty of playing time, and Jarred Reuter and Jay Huff both looked tough as well in the highlights we saw. And it looks like London Perrantes is taking his role of senior leader seriously; he will be a man on a mission this year.
The defense looked pretty polished; however, as much as we'd love to read into everything, there's probably not much sense in doing so. As Coach Bennett himself noted to VirginiaSports.com, the competition was "poor" and "isn't anything close" to what the team will see during the season. "The games themselves were just OK," he added, "but at least we established a mindset to take us into what will be required." So, enjoy the highlights above; basketball season is under 3 months away!