Ohio brings Ben Vander Plas off to a strong start at Virginia

By GREG MADIA The daily progress

Ben Vander Plas knew the fact by heart.

The Virginia forward didn’t need reminding that he could find his new coach’s name next to the NCAA’s all-time mark for 3-point percentage shooting. While playing with Green Bay, Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett shot 49.7% from deep – the best percentage in Division I history for any player with at least 200 3s made.

“He still holds the record,” Vander Plas, a sixth-year senior transferring to Ohio University in his first campaign with the Cavaliers, said with a grin ahead of UVa’s season opener earlier this month.

It was then that Vander Plas said that one of the reasons he was so eager to play for Bennett – a teammate of Vander Plas’ father, Dean – was because he knew Bennett’s strong record with veteran transfers and understood how Bennett could help him improve . .

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The areas Vander Plas focused on were his jump-shooting and his defense.

“So can learn from [Bennett] and hear what he has to say about my jump shot,” said Vander Plas, an All-MAC first-team pick last season, “was really cool.

Through four games—a small, small sample size—at UVa, those lessons from Bennett have yielded favorable results for the 6-foot-8 236-pounder.

During the Cavaliers’ 86-79 victory over Baylor on Friday, Vander Plas was 4-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from outside the arc as part of his 14-point performance in support of Armaan Franklin’s game- high 26 points.

For the season, Vander Plas shoots 52.9% from the field (9 of 17) and 46.2% from 3-point range (6 of 13) – two numbers higher than the career 45.1% rate from the field and 32 .2% rate of 3 he entered this season.

So far, he provided scoring and stability off the bench for UVa. Vander Plas sank eight critical free throws and went 8-of-9 from the line in the second half to help the Hoos hold off Illinois on Sunday.

Vander Plas said he was quick to absorb everything from Bennett on the Cavaliers’ defense and that he felt like he took advantage of UVa’s strength and conditioning program last summer to be better prepared on both ends of the floor to fight. to play. against competition as he played the Bears on Friday, the Illini on Sunday and will play in the ACC this winter.

“Especially with my role last year in Ohio,” said Vander Plas. “I guarded the 5s, and I played more of the 5s, so I had a little extra weight last year, and coming in here I had to cut some of that right away to get more mobile and a little bit lighter.”

Perhaps the increased speed along with his experience has enabled him to get off to a quick start with his new team. He averages 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.

“Good flashes,” said fellow forward Jayden Gardner after Sunday’s Illinois victory over Vander Plas, “and then you just need time defensively to get in the hole and take out the shooters. It’s a transition, but once you get used to it, you move on.”

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