Skip to content

GRAPE Males’s Basketball | Early Struggles Helped Bennett Forge Success at UVA

Holdovers in 2009-10 from Leitao’s last staff at UVA included Meyinsse, Landesberg, Calvin Baker, Will Sherrill, Assane Sene, Mustapha Farrakhan, Sammy Zeglinski and Mike Scott.

What stood out to him about Bennett was “simply how constant he’s on a day-in, day-out foundation,” mentioned Sherrill, who works in New York Metropolis. “We had an attention-grabbing season the place we began off actually scorching after which misplaced [nine] video games in a row, however he by no means modified and by no means wavered by way of how he was going to construct his program and the way his staff was going to play every night time. On the similar time, his strategy to him by way of treating gamers on a private foundation by no means modified: at all times treating us with respect however demanding that we work our tails off and purchase into his imaginative and prescient of him.”

Jerome Meyinsse (55)

Meyinsse remembers a observe early in Bennett’s first season during which a participant was heard cursing loudly. Sprints adopted for the offender, “and proper there I used to be like, ‘OK, that is very totally different,’ ” Meyinsse mentioned, laughing.

“In any other case, simply his demeanor was totally different, how he communicated with us and the way he handled us,” Meyinsse mentioned. “And for me personally, I believed my [basketball] profession was useless within the water. I used to be already interviewing to go perhaps to Wall Avenue, I might gotten accepted into grad faculty, so I believed my profession was over. However when Coach Bennett got here, and after speaking to him and his workers about him, I used to be like, ‘I nonetheless obtained another shot. Let me lace up the sneakers and provides it another attempt.’ So it was undoubtedly particular to me.”

Zeglinski, who works in his hometown of Philadelphia, remembers the staff assembly at which Bennett first laid out his imaginative and prescient for this system. “You can inform it was very totally different from day one,” Zeglinski mentioned. “It was simply fairly cool to witness, over the three years I used to be there with him, how the entire program began to vary, the entire tradition began to vary.”

McKay mentioned: “Tony was simply unwavering in his perception that that is the best way he was going to construct this system. I feel for us a workers there was just a little little bit of an adjustment to recruiting at that degree, as a result of you’ve entry to extra gamers within the ACC. I feel we shortly realized, sure, it is nice that these guys can be found and could also be approachable and so they’re proficient, however we will not compromise on the proper of individuals.”

Will Sherrill (22)

After the 2009-10 season, Bennett’s first recruiting class joined this system. It had six members: Akil Mitchell, Joe Harris, Billy Baron, Will Regan, James Johnson and KT Harrell.

Solely Mitchell and Harris had been nonetheless at UVA 4 years later. Baron left in February 2011, Regan in April 2011, Harrell and Johnson in December 2011.

“We ended up having numerous turnover,” Mitchell mentioned from Athens, Greece, the place he is enjoying professionally. “I are available in as a first-year, and my head is up within the clouds. I feel all the things goes to be candy and we will win video games from the bounce, nevertheless it did not occur that approach. And a few guys did not wish to stick round to see the top outcome, however I do not suppose any of the blokes that stayed within the locker room ever actually nervous. We continued to simply grind it out.

“Coach Bennett would at all times say, ‘Preserve knocking.’ We put the knocker in [the locker room], and every single day we’d simply preserve working. That was the formulation.”

Harris and Mitchell, Sanchez mentioned, had been “good suits for Virginia and ideal suits for Tony.”

McKay agreed. “These two had been foundational to the success of Virginia basketball, by way of the best way Akil sacrificed and purchased in and actually branded the defensive id, and the best way Joe cultivated the locker room and a connectivity that is lasted a very long time there.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *