20 Again – Savoring Virginia’s Consistency

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Virginia coach Tony Bennett has posted six straight seasons with a winning ACC record.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett has guided his team to 20 wins again. ~ Mike Ingalls

Lost perhaps in the euphoria of a payback, Top Bun, vintage defense, “nothing’s finer” win against North Carolina on Monday night was an important program milestone. 20 wins. Again.

The Virginia basketball team reached 20-9 with the 53-43 victory against the Tar Heels. That marks the sixth straight season with at least 20 wins and 109 of ‘em in the past four years. In the previous 16 seasons prior to this streak, dating from the 1995-96 season through the 2010-11 season, UVA had two 20+-win campaigns. Two.

That’s worth savoring for a moment if you’re a Virginia fan.

No other stretch in school history has been so consistent in the 20-win club, though it’s important to at least note that teams play more games in modern times. Still, Terry Holland posted 20+ wins in five straight seasons from 1979-80 through 1983-84. Holland and Jeff Jones combined to win 20+ games seven times in nine seasons from 1986-87 through 1994-95. That included five straight seasons as Holland handed off the program to Jones.

But six straight? That’s Tony Bennett territory. And it has been done without postseason wins providing extra W’s to keep the streak going. Two of Jones’ and four of Holland’s 20+-win seasons crossed the threshold during postseason play, in part due to the number of total games played.

To put things in a more comparable perspective, the winning percentage in these 20+-win seasons under Bennett have been truly impressive. UVA has ticked off the following records (and winning percentage) in these six seasons:

  • 2011-12: 22-10 (68.8%)
  • 2012-13: 23-12 (65.7%)
  • 2013-14: 30-7 (81.1%)
  • 2014-15: 30-4 (88.2%)
  • 2015-16: 29-8 (78.4%)
  • 2016-17: 20-9 (69% with games remaining)

Here are the winning percentages for all of the previous 20+-win seasons:

Henry H. Lannigan

  • 1927-28: 20-6 (76.9%)

Bill Gibson

  • 1971-72: 21-7 (75.0%)

Terry Holland

  • 1977-78: 20-8 (71.4%)
  • 1979-80: 24-10 (70.6%)
  • 1980-81: 29-4 (87.9%)
  • 1981-82: 30-4 (88.2%)
  • 1982-83: 29-5 (85.3%)
  • 1983-84: 21-12 (63.6%)
  • 1986-87: 21-10 (67.7%)
  • 1988-89: 22-11 (66.7%)
  • 1989-90: 20-12 (62.5%)

Jeff Jones

  • 1990-91: 21-12 (63.6%)
  • 1991-92: 20-13 (60.6%)
  • 1992-93: 21-10 (67.7%)
  • 1994-95: 25-9 (73.5%)

Pete Gillen

  • 2000-01: 20-9 (69.0%)

Dave Leitao

  • 2006-07: 21-11 (65.6%)

Of the 23 20+-win seasons, Bennett owns 3 of the top 6 in terms of winning percentage. That includes matching the program’s best season at 30-4 and 88.2%.

Plus, this stretch has come in a rough-and-tumble ACC where seven teams held top 25 rankings this week and half of last season’s Elite Eight and Final Four were made up of league squads. It’s a brutal conference with tests night in and night out. Take what Roy Williams said after Monday’s night’s game as proof: “It’s the ACC and that’s what it is. It’s a tough league. We can stink it up one night and then we can play like great balls of fire the next night, and so can the other teams.”

That leads to one last nugget as the regular season reaches its final game on Saturday. With the win against UNC, UVA now owns a 10-7 in league play, guaranteeing another winning record in ACC play. That’s six straight winning ACC records too. The Daily Press’ David Teel provided excellent context on just how special that is: only six other ACC coaches have ever accomplished it. Dean Smith, Frank McGuire, Roy Williams, Vic Bubas, Mike Krzyzewski, and Gary Williams. Bennett and Gary Williams are the only two coaches outside of the UNC-Duke pool to get it done.

That’s worth savoring for a moment if you’re a Virginia fan.

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