I don't think Simmons or Ingram is some kind of franchise savior. Simmons is a great fit as a 4 in the modern NBA though because he can guard inside and on the perimeter, rebound, handle the ball like a guard, and score inside. Even if he never develops a reliable jumper, he is still going to be a very valuable player. I see him as a better version of Draymond Green who can create offense on his own much better than Green.
Second-year head coach Tony Bennett did some house cleaning this offseason to get rid of players who didn't buy into his system. Sylven Landesburg was ultimately kicked off the team resulting in his decision to turn pro. Tristan Spurlock and Jeff Jones decided to transfer with little fight from Bennett to try and convince them to stay at Virginia. In total, the Cavaliers lose seven players from their 2009-10 roster.
Three starters return in Mike Scott, Mustapha Farrakhan and Sammy Zeglinski to provide some leadership for Virginia. A nice mix of freshmen arrive to the program including K.T. Harrell and James Johnson who were both top-100 national recruits and figure to see significant minutes in their first season. Depth and experience off the bench will be two issues the Cavs will struggle with this season.
While the talent is far from overwhelming in this year of transition, Bennett has a knack for getting the best out of his players once they embrace his style of hard-nosed defense and patience on the offensive end. That brand of ball worked well in the Pac-10 at Washington State but only time will tell if Bennett-ball can flourish at Virginia in the athletic ACC.
Player to Watch: K.T. Harrell, SG
In losing Landesburg, Jones, and Spurlock, the Cavaliers have a need for someone to step into that athletic scoring role. Harrell is a great creator who loves to attack the basket and if he can provide that style of play, it should benefit everyone on the floor including the team's top returning three-point shooter in Zeglinski. Outside of the Duke and Carolina guys, and N.C. State's C.J. Leslie, Harrell should be one of the top freshmen in the conference.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/18 at Stanford
11/22 vs. Washington (Maui Invitational)
11/23 vs. Kentucky/Oklahoma (Maui Invitational)
11/24 vs. Michigan State/UConn/Wichita State/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)