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Bennett Reflects on Miami's Comeback; Looks Forward to 2011-12

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Remember three months ago, when Virginia basketball team was red-hot, winning four of their final five conference games to finish 7-9 in the league? Felt pretty good, right? Right up until that dreadful ACC Tournament game against Miami. You remember what happened.

I know, there's no need to rehash it. People dubbed it the impossible comeback, when the Hurricanes came back from being down 10 points with under 40 seconds to go to give Cavaliers fans the most memorable loss in quite some time. Sorry, I just wanted to spell it out.

I recently had the opportunity to meet head coach Tony Bennett and hear him out on a number of things. He started with the Miami game -- it may have been months ago, but the memories were still fresh.

"I can't tell you the pain, after that Miami game, looking into their eyes, going into the locker room, and it's just ripping everybody's heart apart. And I remember telling them, ‘Look at me.'"

It was no easy task for the players, who, according to Bennett, were "all just hanging," and "feeling it."

"This is what you do, this is not who you are," Bennett said to them.

 

Bennett said that he knew there wasn't much he could say right then and there to alleviate the pain in the locker room. He also added that, as a coach, he knew how competitive it was to be out on there, to know who you're up against and to have to hear about it from everybody afterwards.

"They need to understand that sometimes ... you're going to make mistakes."

There's no point in focusing on the mistake, though, Bennett said. The goal now was to move forward and to remember all they've accomplished and all they still have to accomplish.

"There's so many unbelievable opportunities for them to pour in and influence."

He then talked a little bit about the season.

"We won 4 of our last 5 in the conference, and we finished 7-9 in the league, 16-15. Not great, but we played a lot of young guys."

And that's key, that without senior forward Mike Scott, Virginia's freshmen and sophomores got a lot of experience they wouldn't have otherwise. Not just playing time, but time during which the spotlight was on them. They couldn't just rely on the sole effort of Scott, they had to get out there and create plays and to force turnovers. And that's why Virginia is on the rise and the Cavaliers have to move forward.

Bennett also spent some time talking about a few of the returning players and incoming freshmen, which we'll be covering in the days to come. Stay tuned right here.