Jan. 24, 2006
VIRGINIA HEAD COACH Dave Leitao
For the third game in a row, I thought we played with focus and toughness. That was a good team that we played today; I told the guys that. I thought that Miami may not have played as they are capable of playing and that had something to do with it. We were tough-minded through certain spots of the game where it was an ebb and flow and could have gone one way or another we responded in the second half by rebounding the ball a whole lot better and we didn’t do that in the first half. When the game was on the line we had Sean Singletary and he was the best player on the floor. I think, as I’ve said about him before, he has an inner toughness that doesn’t come from practice, it doesn’t come from me, it came from his existence and he showed it today. When JR went down, a light went off inside of him and he took the game on his shoulders and the rest is history. He played magnificently. He played the whole second half, one turnover and four assists and obviously his 29 points were very loud for us. The rest of the guys really filled in admirably and played solid basketball and allowed us to come away with a terrific win.
There’s this thing called “Philly Toughness” and he (Singletary) has it. As a matter of fact, he has a triple dose of it. He’s not healthy and he’s not feeling well either. I see him gasping there and I ask him if he needs a break and he says “No.” I want to take him out, but his play won’t let me. My fear is that we’re wearing him down. Obviously with TJ back, it gives him some time off the ball and not think about running the team and think more about scoring which helps us.
Something has gone off inside of Laurynas (Mikalauskas) that has allowed him to increase his aggressiveness while staying out of foul trouble. Even the teaching part I think he’s getting it now. Maybe that’s what freshman do; it takes them a little while to get it. He’s really stepped up and plays tough and plays physical and can score a little bit. He becomes an offensive option that we can use. He can put the ball in the basket and some plays in the other parts of the game, too.
One part of building a program is that you can play the type of basketball that your players like and your fans appreciate. I like to think, and I’ve heard it, that since we’ve started, our guys are playing hard. That’s the first and most important part of being appreciated–that you play the game the right way. I think they really appreciate these guys because they are putting their hearts out every night.
We changed from man to zone and hopefully what happened in the past happened tonight–that disrupts their rhythm just a tad. So they try to figure out what’s going on a little bit. Most importantly, our game plan was to keep, as best we can, our bodies in front of them.
They are really talented and really athletic so you have to be there on the catch and you have to keep your man in front of you and you have to give early help; earlier than normal and we worked on that for a couple of days. Having our big guys maybe leave their man and have rotations as such that we can’t let Hite or Diaz or Harrison get free looks at the basket and they do a real good job of getting to the rim. If we could prevent them from continuing to get there that maybe they would shoot over the tops of two defenders and I thought we did a real good job. Eventually we rotated down enough to rebound out of it, too.
MIAMI HEAD COACH FRANK HAITH
I think they did a good job. Not to take anything away from them, but we didn’t shoot the ball well. I think Rob (Hite) and Guillermo (Diaz) both had good shots, but they just didn’t make it. We’re not going to win many games when those guys shoot that poorly. Give them credit, Virginia played hard. I thought we were a soft basketball team tonight. That’s what is disappointing to me. We played with no toughness and Virginia played tougher. They were physically tougher. Sean Singletary played hard. He’s a talented player, but he played hard.
Sean Singletary is a terrific player. He’s the best point guard in the league. He made plays and he’s an outstanding player. He had one of those nights and made big shots.
We wanted to go inside/out and we missed some lay-ups there early. We made some shots and we missed some shots. We didn’t make enough in the paint to put a dent in to loosen them up off our perimeter guys. Like I said, I thought we had some really wide open shots. I know during the second half, it looked like every shot the perimeter players took, they contested. There were some contested shots, but we missed a lot of wide-open shots.
We had poor movement in the zone. We’ve been contesting shots all year…Adrian Joseph hits a three in the corner and we don’t come out and put a hand in his face. The toughness thing I’m talking about is when we have a rebound and they come in and take it right out of our hands. When there is a loose ball on the floor and we’re standing up rather than diving for it. Those are the plays I’m talking about. That’s where we have to go back and we have to change that.