Morgan St.-Virginia Preview
That 2011-12 team, he said, was hoping to win more than half its games. This one eyes a national championship as it gets started Friday night against visiting Morgan State.
The sixth-ranked Cavaliers developed the same goals during last season when they spent much of the campaign ranked No. 2 in the country. They finished with a 30-4 record, but lost to Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
''We want to make a run in March,'' the second-team All-American guard from a year ago said. ''It's not good enough to be ACC regular (season) champions. We want to win a national championship and that's what the goal is.''
The Cavaliers have plenty of firepower back from last season, when they won their second consecutive regular-season title in the conference and became the first team other than Duke or North Carolina to do it.
They also won their second straight national scoring defense title, holding teams to 51.1 points per game. Matching that number may be difficult since their two best defenders from last season - Dario Atkins and Justin Anderson - are now in the NBA.
Seven-footer Mike Tobey may be able to keep order in the paint while the Cavaliers continue to rely on coach Tony Bennett's pack-line defense.
''There's nothing like being in your last year,'' Bennett said of Tobey, who averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds last season. ''I'm excited for what I've seen.''
The Cavaliers don't have a proven go-to scorer, so to replace them they will look increasingly to Brogdon (14.0 ppg), Anthony Gill (11.6) and Tobey to lead what figures to be a very balanced scoring attack. The new 30-second shot clock may affect Virginia, which averaged 65.4 points using a deliberate pace, and finding a replacement on the perimeter for Anderson - who made 45.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc - will be pivotal.
''If we think we can live and die by the 3, we're not made up like that," said Bennett, whose team ranked second-to-last in the ACC with 483 3-pointers attempted.
Some players acknowledge harboring a sense of unfinished business.
''I think we all still have that bad taste in our mouth,'' Tobey said.
Bennett has changed the culture and expectations for the Cavaliers, point guard London Perrantes said, and the results make it easier to get eager newcomers to understand that there's a way to play the Virginia way.
''It's not too much to get people to buy in, and when we all buy in, we're deadly,'' Perrantes said.
Morgan State is hoping for better things after going 7-24 last season, returning leading scorer and rebounder Cedric Blossom (14.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg) among three starters and 10 players overall. Point guard Donte Pretlow is also back but must improve on his 25.8 percent shooting from last season to compensate for the departure of Blake Bozeman, who averaged 12.4 points and 1.7 assists.
The Bears averaged only 61.2 points last season, but coach Todd Bozeman will utilize a more up-tempo pace after losing 7-footer Zech Smith to graduation.
"We will play faster," he said. "We were extremely big last year, and we won't be that way this year. So that will be the major difference, that we'll just play faster and we'll be a little bit smaller."
Morgan State is 0-9 against ranked opponents under Bozeman but hasn't faced one since a 97-76 defeat at then-No. 12 Oregon in the 2013-14 season. Virginia has won both games between the schools, most recently a 75-57 victory Dec. 19, 2012, in which Tobey had six points and three rebounds in 10 minutes off the bench.