Hoos Try To Keep Momentum Going

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Tony Bennett and his coaches have made progress with the program.

When Tony Bennett and company returned to the recruiting trail this week, Virginia’s coaches did so with a little extra pep in their step. And why not? After all, the Cavaliers have a lot to like with their basketball program right now.

Just look at the developments for the program over the last calendar year.

  • Returned to the NCAA Tournament
  • Had a player selected in the NBA Draft
  • Landed a top flight point guard recruit

Without question, those three things are huge selling points as a program searches for sustained success. Recruits want to play in programs that win. Recruits want to have a shot at their professional dreams. Recruits want to play with other good players, particularly good players that can make them look good.

So the fact that Virginia earned its way into the Big Dance was important. It proved to recruits that UVa can once again be competitive in the ACC and on a national scale. Mike Scott playing his way into a second round draft slot with the Atlanta Hawks showed that this coaching staff can develop individuals into players with professional potential. Point guard recruit Devon Hall selecting the Hoos as a 4-star player and staying in state showed that high-level players will be wearing the orange and blue for years to come.

All of those developments are a big deal for a program clawing its way toward sustained relevance. Of course, the Hoos have also been here before. Pete Gillen opened with some strong recruiting classes early on and started piling up more wins. The team made the 2001 NCAA Tournament in Gillen’s third season. Roger Mason Jr. got drafted and remains in the NBA.

The follow-up seasons featured three NIT appearances and dwindling win totals.

Dave Leitao replaced Gillen and promptly helped the Cavaliers make the 2007 NCAA Tournament in his second season. Sean Singletary eventually became