Cavaliers Report: Running the gauntlet


Cavaliers Report: Running the gauntlet

Check back every Wednesday for the Cavaliers Report to get all the biggest Virginia headlines for each week, a recap of last week's game and a look ahead at next week's contest.

Virginia 0-0, (0-0) in the ACC

In the news

Greyson Lambert named starting quarterback: Georgia. The junior quarterback decided to transfer after Matt Johns was named Virginia's No. 1 quarterback for fall camp. Lambert is from Jesup, Ga. so his transfer to Georgia made sense even though few believed he had a legitimate shot of becoming the starter. He was beat out at UVa, how could he take over for an SEC power? Take over he did, however, as head coach Mark Richt declared him the starter on Monday.

This begs the question, did Mike London get this wrong or is Georgia's quarterback situation just that dire? Or perhaps is Matt Johns that good? Lambert came into last season as the starter, but Johns was called upon in the team's very first game and the two split time in the first half of the season. Lambert had a 59 percent completion percentage last season and threw for 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for another two touchdowns. Johns had similar numbers with a 54.9 completion percentage, nine total touchdowns and five interceptions.

If Johns does not pan out this season or if Lambert plays exceptionally well in Georgia, that could make for an uncomfortable situation for London, a coach who has come under a lot of fire in recent years.

UVa signee to attend Marshall: Mike London announced through a statement on Saturday that cornerback T.J. Griffin, a 2015 signee for UVa, was granted a release from his National Letter of Intent on Saturday and will attend Marshall. Griffin could not enroll at Virginia after he was denied admission to the school. The team wanted him to go to prep school so that he could enroll next year, but Griffin opted instead to head to Marshall where he will be immediately eligible.

Griffin played high school football at Ocean Lakes in Virginia Beach. He was considered a three-star recruit by and ranked as the 24th best player in the state.

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Season outlook

A 1-5 finish to the season erased an impressive 4-2 start for the Cavaliers last season, as Virginia fell just one win shy of a bowl game. The task of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2011 will not get any easier this year.

At this point, you know the identity of this football team. It is a conservative offense that likes to pound the ball on the ground while defensively the focus is on blitzing and disrupting the quarterback as much as possible. Last season's roster was not among the best in the nation, but it was well suited for what London envisions his team to be.

Gone are running backs Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd, UVa's two leading rushers from last season. Defensively, the Cavaliers will also be without their three best pass rushers from last season Max Valles, Henry Coley and Eli Harold who combined for 23 of the team's 33 sacks.

That's not to say there's nothing to like. In many ways, Johns looked like the better quarterback last season. Virginia will certainly benefit from not having a quarterback controversy that lingers all season long, assuming of course Johns plays reasonably well. With the return of wide receiver Canaan Severin, the quarterback-receiver tandem could hook up for some big-time plays.

While the Cavaliers may be lacking on their pass rush, they still have the player who may as a sophomore already be the best defensive player on the team, safety Quin Blanding. Blanding was third in the ACC last season with 123 tackles and he could have a breakout season this year as the focal point of the Cavaliers' defense.

The biggest problem facing UVa this season is their schedule. They have a brutal non-conference schedule to start with that will see them play at UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State. Virginia could very easily start the season at 1-3 in which case they would need five wins in ACC play to reach bowl eligibility.

The good news is that UVa always plays up to their competition. They upset both Louisville and Miami last season and lost close contests against UCLA and BYU. The bad news is that the Cavaliers also seem to play down to their competition. Even if they manage an upset and start the season 2-2, be careful before you pencil them into a bowl game.

Next game at No. 13 UCLA, Sat. 3:30 p.m. ET


UVa gave the Bruins a scare last season, but ultimately three turnovers that were returned for touchdowns gave UCLA a cushion the Cavaliers could not erase. This season, Virginia goes to the Rose Bowl to play a UCLA team that is even better, but with a major question mark at quarterback.

The Bruins will start true freshman Josh Rosen at quarterback on Saturday against a UVa defense that loves to blitz the quarterback. When asked in a press conference Monday if UVa would try to put a lot of pressure on a the freshman quarterback, London replied simply, "It would be safe to assume that."

UCLA also suffered a blow on defense as starting cornerback Ishmael Adams was arrested on Monday for allegedly taking the cell phone of an Uber driver by force. Head coach Jim Mora indefinitely suspended Adams on Tuesday.

Adams was named first team All-Pac-12 last season and was a major factor in UCLA's win over UVa with a pick-six. He is also the Bruins' kick and punt returner.

Even without Adams, however, UCLA still returns 16 starters from a team that won 10 games last season which is bad news for a UVa team that lost so many playmakers.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: CFB projections: Chasing Ohio State

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State


Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.


Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year


After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.


Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."