CHARLOTTESVILLE – From January to early March, it's always about Duke and North Carolina. And Virginia Tech.
When you play for the Virginia Cavaliers, you can not take Virginia Tech lightly.
But when you play for Virginia, you know that the road to the top of the ACC goes through Durham and Chapel Hill, NC
It's not so much about Wisconsin, the Virginia team beat 49-37 – yes, a typical bout fight between Cavaliers and Badgers – on his mission at the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Monday night.
But when playing Wisconsin at home and in West Virginia (December 5), those are opportunities to prepare for the likes of Duke and North Carolina. And Virginia Tech. And NC State, Syracuse and Notre Dame.
The ACC games will be here soon.
For now, the Cavaliers' approach is to fine-tune the big things, the famous Pack-Line defense and, on offense, make sure the right players get the best shots at the right time.
And these non-conference games try to build trust among players who must provide the effort, support and a series of small details that separate a mediocre team from a superior one. The Echelon team.
For Virginia, that means finding enough production inside of Jack Salt, a redshirt junior center of 6 feet 10 inches, and Mamadi Diakite, an advanced player of network sophie 6-9.
Well, in the list, Diakite appears as a striker. And you can grab a point outside the paint, catch a pbad, take a dribble or two and find a way to score.
For the most part, he and Salt occupy the painting in defense and work with painting in attack.
"Those are two guys who make you pay for any small mistake," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said Monday night. "Salt did it with the offensive glbad every time we forced them into a difficult shot, and Diakite did it with four offensive rebounds."
Salt had three offensive rebounds and Salt and Diakite had half of Virginia's offensive boards.
"They understand their roles," Gard said. "That's the mark of a good team.
" Not everyone will get 17 or 10 shots per game. But you have to have those characters to understand and accept their roles. And Salt and Diakite have done a good job filling what this team needs them to do. "
Salt, as Virginia coach Tony Bennett says, offers" edge protection "on the defensive side, salt does not break and rarely The New Zealander is 250 pounds of "greywacke", the hard sandstone and mudstone that form the backbone of the mountains of his homeland.
"I have the backs of my companions, no matter what happens", Said Salt  Virginia is not going to challenge the best teams in the ACC without the double points of Devon Hall and Kyle Guy, they will not beat North Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Notre Dame without their " type of glue "," Isaiah Wilkins, getting eight, nine or 10 rebounds per game.
But they're not going to beat those teams either without Salt and Diakite doing the little things they need to do.
Nor is the team's best scorer likely in any game this season. Salt does not even think about that. Diakite is long and athletic enough that one day he can be a very effective offensive player.
That day has not yet arrived.
But Bennett knows what a fighting offense can turn into when all the points have to come from the perimeter.
Sal and Diakite spent the off-season working on catching the ball in heavily trafficked areas. And they worked on finishing after making the capture.
On Monday night, Salt had a wraparound tray with a Wisconsin player on his chest, as well as a forceful dunk in a Hall feed, a pbad that jumped or dropped Salt. a year or two ago
Diakite had one dunk with an badist from Wilkins and 2 more points when he pushed back his defender in the paint with a quick dribble and drop.
He was aggressive with the ball but not silly with the ball.
"Jack is getting better," Bennett said. "Offensively, he's been more active, he's not just settling in. He's really trying to work and move."
"Mamadi made a big move, a dribble down the lane and I think he shot on the edge. We have to throw him there and let them go. We are receiving more details, and those guys are still working to improve. We try to get the balance that way. I think you can see through seven games that we are getting more touches within what we were last year at the moment. "
Guy will receive his 15, 17 and 20 shots per game Hall will have two digits in shots. He points most nights, like second-year point guard Ty Jerome, but all the Cavaliers know that's not enough, they learned that painful lesson last season when teams could contest every shot from the perimeter because they knew that the Inside was sterile.
When we throw it in there, we're telling those guys to go play, "Hall said.
Salt and Diakite do not have to play after playing after playing on offense. They just have to make enough plays to make a difference, especially with North Carolina and Duke and Virginia Tech going up quickly on the schedule