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Solomon Tat's unknown contributions preceded his unexpected playing time

When senior forward Solomon Tat entered the second half of Tuesday's loss to Miami, it was a major surprise. Tat barely gets off the bench, even though he's a scholarship senior. That's often been the case in his career, and it's clear that Tat is limited -- especially on offense.

However, Tat brings a dimension to the team that seldom receives publicity and is impossible to find on the box score. Tat is always the one waving his hands and screaming from the bench. He's a constant voice of encouragement, and before games, it is Tat who dances in the middle of Virginia's circles.

"He is one of the best I've seen," Bennett said. "Though he doesn't really get to play that much, or at all, he's one of the best I've seen in terms of encouraging his teammates on the bench during the game, regardless of the situation."

Tat is playing a career-low 2.6 minutes per games. After averaging 8.3 minutes per game as a freshman, the Nigerian native has watched his minutes decrease almost every season. He played in Coach Dave Leitao's energy lineup toward the end of last season, but he's fallen out of any playing time under Bennett.

Nonetheless, Tat has remained a central figure cheering, if not playing.

"I told him, that's going to carry him far past this basketball experience," Bennett said.

By Zach Berman  |  February 26, 2010; 3:39 PM ET
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