Virginia freshman guard Justin Anderson can't hide his enthusiasm for the sport of basketball.
"I love this game. People say that; I love this game," Anderson said after Sunday's NIT win at home against St. John's. "And when I get to be out there on the hardwood in front of people, and with my team -- we're going to battle against another team -- that is the best feeling ever. I love it."
Anderson has been the spark this postseason for the Cavaliers, who host Iowa at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the NIT quarterfinals. The freshman is averaging a team-high 16.5 points through Virginia's first two NIT games.
On Sunday, Anderson put up a career-high 18 points -- including a few rim-rattling dunks, which have become his trademark in front of the supportive John Paul Jones Arena crowd this season.
"Justin certainly gets the crowd going, and he made some good defensive plays," said coach Tony Bennett. "As he continues to mature and be sound, he's just going to get better and better. But he's unafraid, he makes plays in different ways."
Anderson and his first-year classmates are a big reason why the Cavaliers are still playing basketball. Three of the team's top four scorers in Sunday's win were freshmen, with Taylor Barnette (13 points) and Mike Tobey (10 points) contributing off the bench.
"It always feels good to look to your left and your right and say I feel comfortable with these guys," Anderson said. "I can't wait to go to battle with them every single night with them. And with everybody stepping up, it's the best feeling. You're part of a great basketball program, All we can do is continue to build off of this."
"It's good for our program. It's certainly good for them to have those experiences and learn from it," Bennett said of his freshmen. "The offseason will be significant, how they develop. Everything is important. So the more you can play, the more you can be ina tournament setting,and have to execute and have success, that's just a deposit in the bank."