Bond and Traudt put growth on full display in practice
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Without the restrictions of games and playing time, Tony Bennett has one challenge for players redshirting at Virginia.
"When you're on the green team we tell them 'have at it'," Bennett said, "Let loose and your job is to make us as coaches angry at the first unit because you're doing a good job."
Leon Bond and Isaac Traudt are the latest to follow in a long tradition of Cavaliers to sit out their first season and redshirt. Bennett can always point to the numerous success stories like Mamadi Diakite, Jay Huff and De'Andre Hunter among many others.
As the youngest player on the UVA roster, Bond was set to redshirt before the season started, while Traudt joined him by his own decision after the season-opener.
"You hope they'll really take to the weight room with Coach [Mike] Curtis, we have one of the best strength and conditioning programs and coaches in the country," Bennett said, "They're freed up in practice, that's the best thing when we practice, they go on the scout team or we call it the green team and you're seeing them be real aggressive, play through mistakes."
A logjam in the frontcourt helped influence Traudt's decision to redshirt with veterans like Jayden Gardner and Ben Vander Plas assured of getting playing time. Bennett hopes the time in practice competing against said veterans influences Traudt for the future.
The 6'10" forward out of Nebraska may be learning behind Gardner and Vander Plas, but Bennett says the sweet-shooting big man they call "fish" has made good on the challenge in practice.
"Fish is a terrific shooter, you talk about getting us frustrated in practice at that first unit, his range and his ability, you can probably watch that in warmups and see that as well," Bennett said, "Same thing as Leon, he's gotten real strong, working hard in the weight room, getting better defensively."
Fans have been treated to Bond's athleticism during warmups this year with a couple highlight dunks. In practice, Bennett and the Cavaliers have been treated to an infectious love for the game Bond displays.
"Mamadi, Justin Anderson, that gregarious personality," Bennett said, "It's awesome and he's fun loving and he plays with a lot of energy when he plays. Certainly you can see his athleticism when he's out there dunking and doing things.
Bond has steadily improved as a shooter through countless reps, while Bennett says the 6'5" wing continues to grow and mature.
Both came to UVA as part of one of Bennett's highest rated recruiting classes, behind only 2016, along with Isaac McKneely and Ryan Dunn who have both become featured players in the rotation.
In a typical year, Virginia may have only one player redshirting, but Bond and Traudt will have plenty of shared experiences this year. Moments like morning workouts on game days or practices on the green team giving the first unit players headaches.
"Working tremendously hard," Bennett said, "He and Leon have really no pun intended bonded together in terms of coming together working on their games, in the weight room and trying to form a bit of chemistry on the court on that scout team."