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Tony Bennett’s blunt message to UVA basketball: ‘We must improve’ – Richmond Times-Dispatch

CHARLOTTESVILLE — After his team’s elimination from the NIT on Tuesday night, Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett tried to sum up a season that was, at times, all over the map. It included a road win at Duke and a road loss to the JMU Dukes.

It started with a home loss to Navy, but included a season sweep of Miami and a win over Providence, both — like Duke — Sweet 16 participants.

One team produced those widely divergent results. One team that was at times impressive, at time depressing.

“We were both of those,” said Bennett. “We had to fight to be the better one.”

It’s a fight Bennett urged his players to continue through the offseason, to help get Virginia back on the track it rode to seven straight NCAA tournament appearances, four 30-win seasons and the 2019 national championship before this year’s stumbles.

“A lot of these young men are going to have to decide how committed, how hard they’ll work, how much they’ll improve their skills, how much tougher they can become and how much they love it,” Bennett said after UVA’s 52-51 loss to St. Bonaventure in the NIT quarterfinals at John Paul Jones Arena. “They’ll have to take a step. They have some decisions to make about how badly they want to improve their game. and collectively.”

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The Cavaliers endured a down year by the lofty standards Bennett’s program has established for itself. At 21-14 and in the NIT instead of the NCAAs for the first time since 2013, there’s no hiding from the fact that everyone in and around the program wants more in 2022-23.

UVA could return its entire starting lineup from this season, though indications around his Senior Day were that point guard Kihei Clark might not come back for his extra COVID year.

Jayden Gardner, the East Carolina forward who led the Cavaliers in scoring this year, also has a choice to make. After Tuesday’s loss, he said he hadn’t made any decisions, but sounded like a player eager to get back to work.

“No matter where I have been, I have worked in the offseason,” said Gardner. “So for me, just keep working on my game. I probably won’t take that much time off and just get back in the lab.”

Armaan Franklin, who found his 3-point stroke during the NIT run; Reece Beekman, the runner-up for ACC defensive player of the year; and Kadin Shedrick, who is an emerging rim protector, are all expected back.

Virginia also adds a talented incoming freshman class, a quartet of four-star prospects that ranks 12th nationally, according to the recruiting website Rivals.com. The additions of forwards Leon Bond and Isaac Traudt and guards Ryan Dunn and Isaac McNeely could help transform a UVA offense that struggled mightily this season.

“I want to be real with the new guys coming in,” said Bennett. “Everybody’s all excited about this new class. They’ll have their work to do. It’s hard coming in as a first year. You’ve got to have patience. If they’re good enough, they’ll play. And if they’re not ready, they’ll improve and get ready at some point.”

The trajectory of this year’s team was one of continual improvement, despite frustrating losses — including Tuesday night’s defeat — that popped up to dent the …….

Source: https://richmond.com/sports/college/tony-bennetts-blunt-message-to-uva-basketball-we-must-improve/article_895212a2-8159-5bdb-94ed-7c225ba6e685.html

CHARLOTTESVILLE — After his team’s elimination from the NIT on Tuesday night, Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett tried to sum up a season that was, at times, all over the map. It included a road win at Duke and a road loss to the JMU Dukes.

It started with a home loss to Navy, but included a season sweep of Miami and a win over Providence, both — like Duke — Sweet 16 participants.

One team produced those widely divergent results. One team that was at times impressive, at time depressing.

“We were both of those,” said Bennett. “We had to fight to be the better one.”

It’s a fight Bennett urged his players to continue through the…….

CHARLOTTESVILLE — After his team’s elimination from the NIT on Tuesday night, Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett tried to sum up a season that was, at times, all over the map. It included a road win at Duke and a road loss to the JMU Dukes.

It started with a home loss to Navy, but included a season sweep of Miami and a win over Providence, both — like Duke — Sweet 16 participants.

One team produced those widely divergent results. One team that was at times impressive, at time depressing.

“We were both of those,” said Bennett. “We had to fight to be the better one.”

It’s a fight Bennett urged his players to continue through the…….

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