Q&A – Coach Tony Bennett

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Coach Tony Bennett sat down with Sabre Editor Kris Wright for an exclusive one-on-one interview.

Virginia’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament under coach Tony Bennett sparked excitement for Cavalier fans and the renewed interest still hasn’t worn off. TheSabre.com men’s basketball message board continues to buzz with talk of the Hoos, recruiting, hoops strategy, Mike Scott’s shot at the NBA, and more.

What could be better for enthusiastic basketball fans in the offseason than a conversation with Bennett about the Wahoos and some of his coaching beliefs? Sabre Editor Kris Wright sat down with Coach Bennett for a one-on-one interview last week.

Here is the exclusive Q&A session.

Kris: Do you consider on-ball screen defense to be a special situation outside of the “pack” philosophy – kind of like nickel defense in football – or is it just a specific action that the “pack” defense must deal with overall?

COACH BENNETT: I think it’s mostly its own thing. That’s why it’s important. In the fall, it’s funny, that’s what we spent all of our time doing before we could work out with the whole team. We really isolated and broke down and said that we wanted to be one of the best on-ball screen defensive teams in the country. That was one of our goals and we really worked hard it. I think because we were good at it, it helped us win a lot of games. We were very prepared and we understood what we needed to do. Assane [Sene] was a big part of that. He was very good at it.

To answer your question, I think – there’s certain things that fit with your scheme defensively in terms of how on the side and how we’re playing the ball. Does it funnel right into a ball screen? Because some people will push the ball screen down. In the NBA, they say they down it, which means they don’t let it go into the ball screen; if it’s a side ball screen, they push it down to the baseline. But generally ball screen defense is an entity in and of