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MEN’S BASKETBALL

Shedrick becoming a shot-blocking force for Virginia men's basketball team

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Eleventh-year Providence men’s basketball coach Ed Cooley categorized Virginia’s performance on Tuesday as, “one of the best defensive efforts I’ve seen in years.”

And a culprit for UVa in its third straight win and stifling of the Friars was sophomore Kadin Shedrick, who tallied a career-high five blocked shots in the victory. It was his fifth consecutive game with at least three blocks.

The 6-foot-11 forward enters Friday night’s nonconference bout against Lehigh with the 16th most blocks per game (3.33) in the country.

“I don’t know what his wingspan is,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said, “maybe 7-4 or 7-5, but with his mobility and timing, it’s really good.”

Shedrick, filling a starting role for the first time in his college career this season, is getting a sense of what Bennett expects on a nightly basis to protect the rim in the Cavaliers’ Pack Line defense.

“You know it was interesting, it was at the Coppin State game,” Bennett said, “[Shedrick] got a block and went into the crowd to save a ball, and that was the first time I just saw him do that. He’s coming [on] in that regard.”

Against Providence, perhaps, Shedrick’s most impressive block was a two-handed swat of Friars guard Al Durham’s layup attempt. Shedrick slid from his post position to help Hoos guard Kihei Clark, who was being backed down by Durham, but when Durham turned around to try to put the ball in the basket, Shedrick was there to knock it away.

“I thought [Shedrick] impacted the game a lot,” Cooley said, “with his length. I mean, they’ve done a really good job with him. We remember seeing him in high school … and their staff has done a really good job with their player development with him.”

Said Bennett: “Don’t you think he could’ve grabbed some of those [blocks] out of the air?”

During UVa’s successful two-game trip to New Jersey for the Legends Classic, Shedrick wasn’t the only individual to show signs of understanding what the Cavaliers desire defensively.

Indiana transfer Armaan Franklin scored 23 points against Georgia on Monday, but also recorded six rebounds on the defensive end in addition to three steals and a block. Franklin defended in a version of the Pack Line with the Hoosiers, but is only in his first month on the court with the Cavaliers now.

“They played a similar system to us,” Bennett said, “and he was, I believe, held accountable to being in position. Armaan is a smart player and he has a feel for the game and understands position.

“And a couple of games early on, he didn’t get on the glass as much and some guys beat him off the dribble, but I thought he really spread out and kept the guy in front and was attentive to the whole possession, being in gaps, closing out, keeping guys in front and then coming back and rebounding. And that’s important and so, I thought he took a step with his aggressiveness offensively [against Georgia] and then made improvement with his defense overall as well.”

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