Jan. 11, 2010
2:18 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Tony Bennett used nine players Saturday against N.C. State in Raleigh, N.C. They did not include the tallest Cavalier, Assane Sene.

Sene, a 7-0 sophomore, is averaging 3.1 points and 5 rebounds and leads UVa with 14 blocked shots. Against the Wolfpack, however, Bennett went with a four-guard lineup for much of the second half, and Sene was the odd man out among the Wahoos’ post players at the RBC Center.

“At times he’s not quite there,” Bennett said Monday afternoon on the ACC coaches’ teleconference. “At times he is.”

Virginia’s other post players are 6-8 junior Mike Scott, 6-9 junior Will Sherrill and 6-9 senior Jerome Meyinsse. Scott played 30 minutes, Sherrill 20 and Meyinsse 18 in UVa’s 70-62 victory over State.

The 233-pound Meyinsse is stronger than Sene, and Bennett thought Virginia needed a physical presence inside against the Wolfpack’s 6-8, 247-pound Tracy Smith.

Meyinsse responded with one of his better efforts, totaling 6 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks.

Sene is unlikely to sit out a second straight game. The Cavaliers’ next opponent, Georgia Tech, has three of the ACC’s better post players in 6-9, 234-pound junior Gani Lawal, 6-10, 246-pound freshman Derrick Favors and, off the bench, 6-8, 235-pound senior Zachery Peacock.

The ‘Hoos (1-0, 9-4) host the 20th-ranked Yellow Jackets (1-1, 12-3) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Sene “might have to be ready with his size and being active and going against the interior presence that Georgia Tech has,” Bennett said.

“We’ll certainly prepare, and I always want our guys to be ready when they’re called upon. And I think Assane certainly could have a role in this game.”

Lawal averages 15.7 points and 9.4 rebounds. Favors’ averages are 11.7 and 8.7, respectively, and Peacock’s are 10.1 and 4.6.

On the bus ride home from Raleigh, the TV was on, and the Cavaliers watched Georgia Tech upset Duke. Lawal went 8 for 9 from the floor and finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds against the Blue Devils.

“And that pretty much ended the enjoyment of [Virginia’s] victory,” Bennett said, “once you saw how impressive [the Jackets] were.

“Certainly they’re well-coached. They get on the glass, they’re impressive on the inside, and we’ll have to be ready to play. We’re just trying to keep getting better. That’s where we’re at. Just trying to take steps in the right direction, and we were certainly fortunate at N.C. State … We’ll try to build on that and be ready to go.”

Sene, 20, has started three games this season, but his playing time has decreased recently. He didn’t begin playing basketball until he was 14, so he’s playing catch-up in his development.

“I’m encouraged for his future,” Bennett said. “But like I said, you have to as a coach say, ‘What at the time do we feel is effective and what can help us out there?'”

Against N.C. State, Meyinsse was a better option, the coaching staff believed.

“Now Assane gives us some other things with his length that will certainly be called upon, whether it’s Georgia Tech or down the road,” Bennett said. “So he just has to keep working and keep developing.

“He’s not a dominant low-post scorer, but he certainly can affect the game running the floor, on the defensive end, trying to get some rebounds. I think as he continues to become more consistent, that will help. This is a long season, so I certainly wouldn’t want him to get discouraged because he didn’t step on the floor.”

Jeff White

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