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Virginia optimistic about Braxton Key before Syracuse game

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Plus, more from the Coach’s Corner with Tony Bennett.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Boston College Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

That sound you just heard was the entire Virginia basketball fanbase exhaling with relief. On Wednesday night’s Coach’s Corner at the Boar’s Head Resort, Tony Bennett shared news that made it sound as though senior forward Braxton Key will likely be available for the Syracuse game on Saturday.

“I think he’s going to be ok,” Bennett told the show’s host, Dave Koehn. “I think he landed and it stung it a little bit. We got it checked out, and I think all things are positive with it.” The crowd in attendance cheered the news as Bennett agreed with their enthusiasm. “I think that is good news.”

Bennett praised the work of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bobby Chhabra, who did the work on Key’s wrist, as well as Kihei Clark’s last season and De’Andre Hunter’s in 2018. Additionally, Bennett pointed out that the access to UVA’s top doctors was a solid recruiting help.

He also mentioned that it’s important to him that the younger or newer players feels like the squad is just as much theirs as it does the returning or more experienced players.

Coach Bennett went on to discuss how the slow start and inexperience hurt the Cavaliers on the road against Boston College. “It’s just something with this group,” Bennett said to Koehn. “We just keep working...you show up and you look at the tape and find little areas to keep improving. You just keep working and pursue quality.”

“This season, you have to accept the hard with the good,” Bennett said of his inexperienced 2019-20 squad.

Bennett also addressed the foul issues at the beginning of the game that saw Mamadi Diakite go to the bench with two fouls within the first minute against Boston College. Usually a staunch follower of benching a player with two first half fouls, Bennett did use Diakite around the 11 minute mark. “I usually don’t play guys with two fouls,” Bennett explained, “...but I felt the game separating a little bit and thought, ‘he [Diakite] needs to be out there.’” Diakite played six first half minutes, and finished with nine points.

Near the end of the show, the crowd cheered when Bennett said he was happy to hear the “just like football” chant erupt at John Paul Jones Arena when the Cavaliers secured the win over Virginia Tech. “That’s been chanted to us when we’ve been at Virginia Tech and they beat us and we were there. That was a sweet sound, wasn’t it?” Bennett asked those in attendance at Boar’s Head.

It certainly was, Coach. It certainly was.

You can watch the full broadcast below:

Coach's Corner with Tony Bennett 1.8.20

LIVE with Coach Bennett and Dave Koehn for this week’s Coach’s Corner! #GoHoos

Posted by Virginia Cavaliers on Wednesday, January 8, 2020