Craig Littlepage was happy to find a man with certain intangibles to lead the Cavaliers’ program.
The Virginia basketball world officially met coach Tony Bennett for the first time Wednesday in an hour-long news conference at the John Paul Jones Arena. After an afternoon that featured talk of integrity, passion, and even a personal moment when Bennett gathered himself while speaking about the family and the opportunity to coach at UVa, many associated with the program – including several current players – seemed pleased with the decision to hire the 39-year-old coach.
And while there was plenty of discussion about his coaching style, the pace of play, recruiting, and the like, much of the conversation focused on intangible qualities that can make the Virginia program special again. UVa Athletics Director Craig Littlepage set the tone of the afternoon with a portion of his opening statement, which focused on the process of finding the Cavaliers’ new coach.
“Throughout the process my thoughts turned to the legends of college basketball coaches. Pete Newell, John McClendon, and John Wooden are all names that came to mind and resonated with me throughout the course of this process,” Littlepage said in his opening statement. “The more I thought about these legendary coaches and the task that I had at hand, it became evident that there were equally important intangible qualities.
“What was it that made John Wooden the greatest college basketball coach of all time? What were the intangibles of his leadership? His character, respect, loyalty, and a strong moral compass really stood out,” Littlepage continued. “These qualities could be used then as a model for the current generation of college coaches that aspire to being the teacher-coach like these icons that I so greatly admire. These are the intangibles I sought in our new head coach. Finding someone who respected the teacher-coach model was a priority for me.”
Littlepage, President John T. Casteen III, and others believe they have found such a figure...
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