With Sean Singletary and Sharneé Zoll providing leadership and fireworks for UVA’s basketball teams, last season could easily have been characterized as the Year of the Guards.
Both players have gone on to the ranks of professional basketball, so now the Cavaliers will look to the front court for more points and power this season.
It’s a tall order—but bring it on, the players say.
Two veterans—Lyndra Littles (Col ’09) and Aisha Mohammed (Col ’08)—provide savvy, strength and a wealth of experience for the women’s team this year. Littles, a 6-1 forward, has high expectations after last season’s 24-10 run.
“I will be livid if we don’t win an ACC championship and if we don’t contend for a national championship,” she says.
“My own goal is to get to the Final Four,” says Mohammed, a 6-3 center.
Cavalier fans can expect the same fast-paced, smart attack, although Littles says, “We may not have the prettiest system like we did last year with Sharneé.” Third-year guard Monica Wright, an All-American honorable mention last season, will provide the backcourt leadership.
Mohammed, from Nigeria, brings extensive international experience to an already seasoned squad. She also brings tenacity and strength.
“It’s basically like you have a brick wall down there,” Littles says of Mohammed.
Losing to Old Dominion in overtime in the NCAA Tournament last year still stings. “That was the kind of experience and lesson that we learned from,” says Mohammed.
Jamil Tucker (Col ’10) and Mike Scott (Col ’11) make no bones about the departure of Singletary. He will be missed, but there won’t be a void.
“Now you can look forward to seeing more input from a different variety of players,” says Tucker, a third-year forward listed at 6-9 and 241 pounds. “It will be a more team-based season.”
“We all know that Sean is gone,” says Scott, a second-year forward at 6-8 and 233 pounds. “I think we’re working extra hard. The season relies on confidence. If everyone is confident in their play, if everyone is confident in every shot they take and the defensive positions they take, then I think we’ll do well.”
Defense—always a focus for Coach Dave Leitao’s teams—will again be key. Tucker also wants to improve his shot-blocking ability and his ball handling. Scott has been working on better consistency from game to game and expanded leadership in Singletary’s wake. “It’s kind of hard, but I’m trying to learn how to be the leader. I’ve never really been in that position.”