Dunn, McKneely learning from early high intensity opportunities
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- In a situation where Virginia needed a stop, freshman Ryan Dunn knew he made a mistake letting his guy get by in a tight game, a typical moment for a first-year, but Dunn's response is what stands out.
"I just kind of said if I get it, I'm going to be aggressive, try to make a play," Dunn said, "I ripped baseline, scored, I was trying to keep my composure like you said and then we had to get another stop and I got the stop and I kind of just, I wouldn't say lost it, but I kind of just got hype in myself just patting myself on the back because as a freshman you make mistakes like that, but being able to come in the clutch like that it was a good feeling for me."
Dunn showed that excitement after the final defensive stop by dapping up a fan sitting courtside before turning to his teammates.
Mistakes are expected for freshmen, especially when thrust into increased minutes like Dunn and Isaac McKneely have been the last two games for UVA. After seeing their minutes dip in recent weeks, the Cavaliers have turned to the two freshmen in tight games against Florida State and James Madison.
After star guard Reece Beekman went down with a right hamstring injury less than four minutes into the game against JMU, McKneely played 26 minutes, the second most minutes of his career, following a 19 minute outing against the Seminoles. Dunn also played the second most minutes of his young career against the Dukes and Tony Bennett came away impressed with how both responded to the situation.
"What opportunities for a young man like that and Isaac McKneely to be in an intense game like that as first-years," Bennett said, "Those are two of the oldest teams, you had two of the oldest teams from what I understand statistically. So for those two young guys to be in those settings and hold their own was really good for them."
Neither put up stat lines against Florida State or JMU that would pop out with the duo scoring four points each in both games. But McKneely provided the Cavaliers another ball handler and a threat from outside. Dunn showed off his length on the perimeter defensively with four blocks over the last two games, and all four of his points memorable, from the SportsCenter Top Play dunk to the needed basket to put away the Dukes.
"McKneely's aggressive and he's going to be really good, he's not scared and he was firing them up, I think a lot of his threes that missed I was taking a deep breath on the sideline because it looked like they were going in," JMU head coach Mark Byington said, "Dunn's going to be a really good player, he's so long and athletic and in their defensive system, he's going to be terrific."