It’s been almost four months since Tony Bennett took the reins at Virginia. While Bennett has not coached nor won a single game in that time, he has methodically put together a strong first quarter for his first year on the job. In fact, I’m not sure Bennett could have crafted a better offseason than what he’s done to date.
My reasoning is fairly simple. When Bennett agreed to become the men’s basketball coach at UVa, it started a dizzying few weeks for him and his family. It also created a near instantaneous list of things that had to be done – well, poorly, or otherwise, these key items had to be checked off the list. Bennett’s moves in those earlier weeks all seem to fall in that “well done” category, giving him time and momentum to earn a few bonus pats on the back in the process.
Take a look at the short “to do” list where Bennett has excelled in the early going at Virginia:
Energize the current players. The day Tony Bennett was introduced at the John Paul Jones Arena, he had already met his new players at Virginia. In the practice facility after the introductory press conference, those players met the media and all of them had good things to say about his energy level, his enthusiasm, and his demeanor in those first few days. What about since the first week? While we won’t have concrete proof until we see the team and players in action, the grapevine seems to be in Bennett’s favor. Well done.
Meet Spurlock and Evans; Convince them to stay with UVa. The only two recruits scheduled to join the UVa program this fall were recruited by Dave Leitao and his staff. While Tristan Spurlock and Jontel Evans had signed with Virginia, there was the possibility that the players could ask for a release from those intent letters. Bennett has indicated that he would have released either player if they wanted to leave UVa’s class, but that’s an avenue neither player chose after meeting with the new coach. Well done.
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