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2014-2015 Virginia Basketball: Keeping our Expectations in Check

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest message I've given our team, and I think it's really important is first of all, no one can take away what happened last year. It was obviously a fun year, a terrific year.

But I think a big mistake would be to try to compare ourselves to last year's team. I think the key really is, and I told them this, is for you as a group - you're a different team.  And you're going to certainly have to find our identity, and we will as the season progresses. But you obviously max out - absolutely get as good as we can be. And perhaps that will make you better than last year's team and take you further, and perhaps you won't be as good and won't go as far.

It's really all about what this team can max out to and reach its full potential.

Tony Bennett's words, spoken at his press conference at UVA basketball's media day, are wise ones to heed as we head into the 2014-2015 season.  The head coach's message was directed at the team, but it applies to us fans as well.  Let's not "anchor" our hopes and expectations to last year's successes.

The Virginia Cavaliers are coming off a banner year, which included wins over all 14 other ACC schools, a conference regular season title, an ACC Championship, and a Sweet 16 run.  And coaches, media, and computers all agree that the Hoos are ready for another great year, as the consensus is that UVA is one of the best 10-15 teams in the nation.

Fans share this optimism, and rightfully so. First of all, optimism is a trait that goes hand-in-hand with fanhood. (I gave up my hopes for an Orange Bowl berth a few days ago).  Second of all, optimism about this team is warranted; these guys are gonna be good.  However, after last season's accomplishments and the preseason's high expectations, I wanted to echo Coach Bennett (who wouldn't?) and remind everyone, but mostly myself, that

1) It's a new team and a new season - try not to compare to last year, and

2) Regardless of how optimistic you are about this year, it's going to be FAR easier to fall short of sky-high expectations than to exceed them - try not to compare to preseason rankings.

Point 1 seems self-explanatory, probably because it's obvious that "2014-2015" are different numbers from "2013-2014."  This team will have different strengths and different weaknesses, that will lead to different failures and different successes. Counting every way that this year's team may fall short of last year's would be torturous...and would detract from our enjoyment of the ways in which it could go further.  Anchoring our hopes to what the team did last year is an impossible proposition. Let's not count on that, and if/when it doesn't happen, we'll celebrate again.

Point 2, that it's more likely that Virginia falls short of expectations than exceeds them, is not intended to be a pessimistic one.  Remember, I know that we'll be REALLY good this year and am COMPLETELY on board with the top-10 rankings.  It's just that...if you expect the team to win an ACC title, it could only do so or fall short.

So guys, just a reminder. We've been waiting for basketball since March 28th; that's 231 days. It's about to finally be here...so let's just enjoy it.