I have a few quick things to say:
-- I think the drubbing Tennessee gave us [finally] woke us up. And I'm not just talking about the players, either. Tony Bennett has tightened up his rotations, and clearly found some things that are working offensively.
-- Beating Florida State in Tallahassee had to have been huge for this team's confidence. When we reflect back upon this season, we might just mark that game (and the week of practice between the Tennessee game and the FSU game) as the true turning point of the campaign.
-- I'm not sure how good Wake Forest is, but they were #63 in the RPI prior to tonight's game, so I'm chalking this up as at least a "solid" win.
-- Saturday at NC State looms large. Infinitely winnable, and we could really use a 3-0 start to the ACC season before we head into Cameron Indoor on Monday night.
-- I'm not quite ready to place our NCAA Tournament résumé on the sidebar of the blog, but I will say that I think our magic number for an NCAAT appearance is now 10. Ten more wins, and we lock up a bid without any consternation.
Some player-by-player notes...
London Perrantes -- Him starting at the 1 with the green light to shoot might just be the key to everything. He didn't do anything remarkable tonight, but allowing Brog to exclusively play shooting guard improves this team's offense exponentially.
Malcolm Brogdon -- It was a failed experiment, him starting at point guard. But I think he's fine in short relief at the 1, and he's a revelation as a starter at the 2. Easily one of our best / most effective players right now. And did you see him shatter that dude's jaw?
Joe Harris -- Tonight was exactly how Joe needs to play for this team to be the best it can be. If he can settle into the role of smart, aggressive, confident sniper... well, we'll be in good shape. He brushed off that concussion like it was no big deal. Great game from Joey Buckets tonight. I kinda like this grizzled, jaw-set, goatee-growing, "don't give a fuck" version of Joe that we saw tonight.
Akil Mitchell -- Tonight (like in the 2nd half against FSU), we've seen the real Akil. Running and athleticism and strong D and authoritative rebounding and opportunistic stickbacks. When he tries to do more than that is when he (and the team) gets into trouble.
Mike Tobey -- He had a rough game tonight, but I love him as a starter. He's still learning his way and he's a little too much finesse and not enough power, but those skills are intoxicating. Tonight, I thought he was a little tentative with his offense. He's battling through a slump, but things seemed to calm down and come together for him during 2nd half junk time.
Justin Anderson -- He was our best player against FSU, and scored 11 points in 17 minutes tonight. It was a quiet 11 points (6 from the free throw line), but Simba is the straw that stirs the drink for Virginia these days. That's an incredibly important role.
Anthony Gill -- "The Janitor" continues taking out the trash and doing the dirty work, and he's quickly growing on me as one of my favorite players on the team. He's not the world's best rebounder, but he's got real guile in the paint. Moxie. Chutzpah. THE JANITOR!
Evan Nolte -- I'm a little bit surprised that he has bubbled up above Darion Atkins and Teven Jones in the fight for playing time, but he seems to be embracing the "instant offense" role coming off the bench. He's shooting with confidence, and that perimeter threat was always the upside for him on this [seemingly loaded] team during his sophomore season.
Darion Atkins -- He's now officially the 4th big and the 9th man in the rotation. It's a little bit disappointing, but he can't seem to work past a penchant for ticky-tack fouls and offensive mistakes. He mixes in a few great, athletic, savvy plays, but the bright spots are too few and far between. I guess what I'm trying to say is that he's consistently inconsistent. How weird will it be when Darion is our only senior next season?
Teven Jones -- I love him, but it's now clear that he's an oil-and-water fit with Bennettball. He's always incredibly enthusiastic cheering on his teammates, and he always hustles and plays hard when he gets in the game, so he's an easy kid to like. He's just not really part of the rotation right now, nor should he be.
All in all, I feel about 100x better right now than I did a week ago. It's awesome what a pair of wins can do, right?