Mike Scott looks to be a leader for Virginia basketball this season

By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 12:20 AM

CHARLOTTESVILLE - Virginia forward Mike Scott's transformation from admittedly selfish to appreciably well rounded is not complete. It can't be, not until he demonstrates on the court this winter the mind-set adjustments he strove to make this past offseason.

Traces from last season still linger, when he would become too consumed with scoring to function with any other purpose during games.

The Cavaliers are ushering in a seven-member freshman class, several of whom will be relied upon, by necessity, to play significant minutes from the outset. As a result, second-year Coach Tony Bennett will need Scott, his most talented senior, to stave off past urges as long as possible, if not for good.

Candid and self-reflective, Scott recently spoke about the maturation process he underwent last summer. Entering his final collegiate season, he wanted to be the type of leader Virginia needed him to be, perhaps for the first time. And that meant adhering to the leadership lessons his father, who spent 20 years in the Marines before leaving the service in 1998, had been trying to teach him for years.

Scott averaged 12 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season and is the leading returning scorer and rebounder for a Cavaliers squad that went 15-16 in 2009-10. There were games last year, Scott and Bennett said, when Scott would show flashes of the considerable talent he possesses. There also were times, player and coach acknowledged, when Scott was disengaged from the game going on around him.

As Scott's junior season progressed, there were more instances of the latter than the former: He averaged just 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in ACC play.

"Last year I had good games and bad games, and the bad games I just was looking at scoring as being everything," Scott said. "But my whole mentality this year is trying to bring something more to the table. If I'm not scoring, rebounding and assists is better than just having that selfish habit, that selfish mind-set: I need to score. I need to score. That just brought me down, because I wasn't scoring."

During consecutive games late last February at Miami and against Duke, Scott shot a combined 0 for 13 from the field and tallied four rebounds and one assist. He did not make a single free throw attempt in either game.

"It snowballed," Scott said. "When I was going through that stuff, I was jump-shot happy."

Scott said his father, whom he called his No. 1 critic, told him after those two games: "You didn't look good out there. That's probably the worst I've ever seen you play."

Michael H. Scott said his son felt he had to compete against the production of other ACC forwards, or even against the production of his own teammates. Whatever the origin of his son's devolution as a teammate, Scott's father said he knew the boy had what it took to be the kind of leader worth following.

"I think I was thrusting it on him a little bit too much," Michael H. Scott said. "Because it seems as though as he played sports and did different things in school, he was always that standout athlete. So I was telling him that along with that ability and that talent that you have, at some point in time you've got to step up and take a leadership role."

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