Virginia Sports.com took an early opportunity to get to know the newest coach of the Wahoos better with a Q & A Tuesday afternoon. In the interview, Coach Tony Bennett discusses his first meeting with the team and his initial priorities at Virginia.
Stay tuned to the TheSabre.com following tomorrow’s 1 p.m. press conference for details and even more reaction from Coach Bennett.
As has been suggested in numerous reports about new Virginia coach Tony Bennett, he was a top candidate for other coaching jobs in recent years. That’s because he won 26 games in two straight years at the frequently uncompetitive Washington State. Still, some fans have concerns about the style of play and the “boring” factor of a controlled offense. This older article from ESPN has some interesting tidbits, but this section stands out:
Bennett succeeded his dad this season after Dick Bennett spent three years rebuilding one of the most downtrodden major conference programs in the nation.
The Cougars had not had a winning season since 1995-96 and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994, and only the fifth time in their history.
The Cougars had been predicted to finish last in the Pacific-10. Instead, they climbed to No. 9 in the Top 25, finished second in the Pac-10, and re-energized the moribund basketball atmosphere at Friel Court.
Attendance at Friel Court jumped from an average of 3,797 per game in ’05-06 to 7,177 this season – 8,869 for Pac-10 games. Sterk said that produced a $250,000 increase in ticket revenues.
Young women showed up at games with signs reading “We love you Coach Dreamy,” a reference from TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Bringing Sexy Back to Basketball,” a reference to Bennett’s looks.
Bennett recruited nearly all the key players on the team, many of them ignored by other major college programs.
Some message board posters say they remember Tony Bennett’s playing days back in the early 1990s. Here’s a clip for everyone to check out. With a hat tip to Bill Raftery, let’s hope the “onions” carry over to his coaching days!
Check out even more reaction to the hiring of Tony Bennett on From Old Virginia. The blog’s most recent post argues Littlepage’s newest hire must produce in 2010 or the next search will be for a new AD.
Virginia’s potential wish list for their head coaching vacancy in the wake of Dave Leitao’s departure read like a ‘Who’s Who in College Basketball’. A sea of names from Tubby Smith to Trent Johnson to Sean Miller and everyone in between seemed to be discussed in articles and message board posts alike. The rumor mill went wild as Tubby toured JPJA under the cover of darkness and planes were chartered all over the continental U.S.
But in a surprise move Craig Littlepage and Co. selected one name that had not been widely discussed to this point: Tony Bennett. Bennett, the former head coach at Washington State, reportedly accepted the Cavaliers’ offer Monday to become the next head coach of the Wahoos. Details of the contract are still unknown at this point.
As late as Monday morning, Smith still appeared to be the favorite for the position but that turned to speculation as The Daily Progress broke late this afternoon that Bennett, 39, was the Cavaliers’ man.
The former Wazzu coach led the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008 before being relegated to the NIT tournament this season with a 16-13 record.
According to an article in Washington’s Spokesman-Review, Bennett’s players were “shocked” and “disappointed” to hear the news in a 2 p.m. meeting.
And you thought the coaching search had a lot of plot twists.
Virginia and Maryland dueled for nearly four hours in men’s lacrosse Saturday afternoon and there were enough storyline shifts and momentum turns to make any soap director jealous. In the end, the Cavaliers won the 7-overtime thriller 10-9 thanks to some high heat from Brian Carroll on a left-handed game-winning shot. The game is the longest in Division I men’s lacrosse history; UVa previously played a 4OT game with John’s Hopkins in 2001.
The conspiracy theories out there concerning Virginia’s coaching search for a new men’s basketball coach are becoming like a snowball running downhill. I urged patience in a Sabre column Wednesday. Jeff White of the RTD makes light of the situation on his blog … and for what it’s worth Jeff, the Crozet Pizza meeting was really just a dinner break – the real wheeling, dealing, and contract talk took place in the corner of the little library building. I can’t believe you missed (dang BP sign!) the horn-blaring and angry looks as the big wheels crossed the street during rush hour for the pizza break portion of the evening. You wouldn’t think a classy candidate like Tubby would bypass the crosswalk just a few feet away. No way a jaywalker like that gets the gig in my opinion.
As Jeff White first reported in a blog post, former UVa offensive coordinator Mike Groh is expected to take a graduate assistant job at Alabama. Of course, it’s not unusual for college football programs to have grad coaches. UVa had four last season (Jim Jones and Rich Bedesem were coaching assistants while Rich Yahner and Thurston Childrey were non-coaching assistants).
What seems unusual on the surface – a former power conference coordinator moving down to be a grad assistant – is really just another way to bend the NCAA rules (only 9 football assistants allowed) these days, which is something that will, or should, catch the eye of the NCAA, according to Birmingham News columnist Ray Melick. Melick notes cases at Tennessee and Auburn as examples but also mentions specially created positions such as “director of operations” or “director of player development” as ways for college programs to hire more personnel to gain an advantage. Read Melick’s column for more.
Virginia women’s basketball recruit Lexie Gerson was named Most Valuable Player of a Mercer County/Trenton, N.J. All-Star game this week (link).
Peddie School’s Lexie Gerson, the University of Virginia recruit who never lost a game in New Jersey during her Falcons career while leading Peddie to four straight Prep A state titles, took home the Most Valuable Player award in the girls game with 22 points, connecting on two of the record 19 baskets the two teams made from 3-point range.