Winning Isn’t Easy

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KT Harrell and the Hoos survived a scare against Norfolk State.

Before my team’s game on Monday night, I reminded the players in the pregame talk that “it’s never easy to win.” It takes effort and execution every time out against any team you ever play to leave with a victory. As I watched the second half tick away of Virginia’s eventual 50-49 win against Norfolk State, I kept reflecting on that phrase and how it applied to the Hoos on this forgettable December night.

It’s never easy to win. I know it sounds like coach-speak and, frankly, it is – but they call things cliches for a reason. But even if fans, players, coaches, and others alike didn’t believe the “it’s never easy to win” mantra before Monday night, everyone probably will keep that thought in the back of their mind as they watch future games. Yes talent matters. Yes “gimme” home games against the likes of Norfolk State should go smoothly.

The fact is, however, that teams still have to have the effort and execution necessary for the expected wins to come. UVa did not have much of either E on Monday and if not for an Assane Sene tip-in, the Hoos would have a loss to show for it, something Tony Bennett was acutely aware of afterward when talking with the media. Bennett was particularly perturbed with his team’s effort and execution – soundness, as he likes to say, and quality of play are as important as the end result.

“I think again we weren’t sound. Some of the breakdowns defensively [like] on the out of bounds play, some of the turnovers late,” Bennett said. “Against Oregon, we started out shaky, very similar, but got stronger and more solid as the game went on. Here we started out shaky and stayed shaky. Again they made some plays and outhustled us. We didn’t practice well the day before and it showed.”

Let’s hope the Cavalier players remember the coach-speak mantra when Seattle rolls in the John Paul Jones Arena on Wednesday night.

Ball Movement