Hauser will push 'Hoos in practice this season

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- The players on Virginia's 'Green Machine' practice squad have a new teammate this men's basketball season -- and it turns out he's pretty good.

Forward Sam Hauser was second-team All-Big East as a junior at Marquette last year, but due to NCAA rules after transferring this past spring, can't play for the Cavaliers until next season.

"It's a little different," Hauser said. "But in the grand scheme of things, I need to get going. Get working on my game, working on weaknesses. Areas where I can improve. And then really just helping these guys get better every day in practice."

Hauser is the latest player to redshirt for UVA coach Tony Bennett, either because of injury or transfer rules. The coach recalled at Wednesday's media day that during the 2012-13 season, Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill provided a stiff challenge as practice players for the Cavaliers, on a team that included first-year players Justin Anderson, Mike Tobey and Evan Nolte.

Bennett believes Hauser can have a similar impact on this year's young team.

"It makes you get excited about him for the future, of course," Bennett said. "And then hopefully he'll really work hard to develop his game and do what guys have done in the past in that situation. Do whatever he can to serve the team, make them better, and improve his game in the process."

Hauser averaged 12.7 points and 6.0 rebounds, and was a 44.5 percent shooter from beyond the 3-point line in his three-year career at Marquette. Earlier this month at UVA's Blue-White Scrimmage at John Paul Jones Arena, fans watched Hauser knock down a few 3-pointers and hit some buzzer-beaters while playing with many of the Cavaliers' reserves.

That skill on the offensive end will test UVA in practice.

"That dude can shoot," junior forward Jay Huff said. "It's a little bit crazy sometimes, just watching some of the moves that he pulls off. Just running, one-legged whatever, you've got a hand up, like, 'Oh, there's no way.' And it's just, swish."

"Sometimes he plays the three and I have to guard him. And sometimes he'll have to play the four and Mamadi will have to guard him," said senior forward Braxton Key. "So it gives us a guy that's a D-I player, that can score the ball from all three levels. It makes us all better."

Hauser said improving on the defensive end is one of his primary goals during his redshirt season. He believes practicing against UVA's veteran front-court players like Key and Huff and Mamadi Diakite will help him hone that skill.

He's also looking forward to pushing that group on both ends of the floor.

"I think pride's the right word. You've got to have pride in that," Hauser said. "If I'm competing and trying to push them to another level, then it's only getting me better. And I know it's only getting them better."

"Because practices are like my game days now, so I've got to take full advantage of that."



 
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