Q&A – Tony Bennett

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Tony Bennett

The Virginia men’s basketball team’s season draws closer as fall officially hits the calendar this weekend. With two All-ACC players returning in Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell , the Cavaliers hope to build on their most successful postseason run in years after making it to the NIT Quarterfinals last March.

While winning two games in the postseason NIT matched the program’s pair of victories in the 2008 CBI event, last season’s run still had a hint of disappointment. After all, the Cavaliers seemed to be in great position as a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament after they defeated Duke 73-68 on Feb. 28. That win was followed by three losses in the next four games, however, including a first round ACC Tournament exit against NC State.

The late stumble inevitably led to discussions on late-season swoons since Virginia sputtered a bit down the stretch of the last two seasons. The 2011-2012 team lost four of its final five games, including one-and-done losses in the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament. Of course, both of the squads from the past two seasons had key flaws when it comes to late-season play. The 2012 edition had depth issues after injuries and transfers took a toll. The 2013 team was short on experience with numerous true freshmen playing key minutes.

Still, the concern is valid. In seven years as a head coach, Tony Bennett’s teams at Washington State and Virginia have posted a combined record of 145-86 but just a 39-47 mark after Feb. 1. That’s an overall winning percentage of 55.3% that falls to 45.3% after the start of February. Granted, that includes a 2-10 late-season record in his first season at UVa in 2009-2010; remove that year and the winning percentage climbs to 48.7% after Feb. 1. Here is the break down on the seven seasons:

  • WSU: 26-8 in 2006-07, 9-4 from Feb. 1
  • WSU: 26-9 in 2007-08, 7-6 from Feb. 1 (3-2 in postseason Sweet 16 run)
  • WSU: 17-16 in 2008-09, 5-7 from Feb. 1
  • UVa: 15-16 in 2009-10, 2-10 from Feb. 1
  • UVa: 16-15 in 2010-11, 5-5 from Feb. 1
  • UVa: 22-10 in 2011-12, 4-7 from Feb. 1
  • UVa: 23-11 in 2012-2013, 7-8 from Feb. 1