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Virginia Basketball’s media day covers rookies, social injustice, and a broken nose

The Hoos met with members of the media for the first time as we get ready to kick off the 2016-17 season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Raleigh Practice
Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett and members of the 2016-17 team met with media today.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Virginia Basketball held their annual Media Day, welcoming members of the media to Charlottesville for their first chance of the season to speak with Coach Tony Bennett and the players. Topics ranged from new players to injuries, defensive development to comments on social justice. Here is a brief overview of the Media Day happenings:

New Faces in Charlottesville

It’s no surprise that the Cavaliers would be welcoming a lot of new players in the 2016-2017 season as Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, Evan Nolte, and Caid Kirven all graduated. After losing such a senior-heavy class, Coach Bennett is still getting used to the plethora of players that are working to learn all the intricacies of the Pack Line defense and the mover-blocker offense.

“They’re swimming right now a little bit,” Bennett said, “with the intensity, the volume of work, how we’re trying to be really execution oriented, and demanding. There’s a little slippage you see, but as I have said before, the promise is there.”

While the newcomers are understandably struggling to absorb everything before the team tips off the new season on November 11 at UNC-Greensboro, this incoming class is Bennett’s most-talented yet. Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, Jay Huff, and De’Andre Hunter are all lauded first years, while Mamadi Diakite and Austin Nichols are eligible this season after sitting out with redshirts.

Player Interviews

Check out what London Perrantes, Austin Nichols, Marial Shayok, and Jarred Reuter had to say about the upcoming season:

Wait, WHAT Happened to London’s Nose?!

If you watched the above video, you may have noticed London was sporting a new accessory on his face.

Because of course.

Kyle Guy had a little fun at London’s expense:

Guy’s response is reminiscent of Anthony Gill’s reaction when a collision with Malcolm Brogdon’s head broke London’s nose last season. “A lot of people say he’s an uglier version than me. I probably would agree with them. … Definitely, for sure, [now],” Gill said at the time.

Clearly London isn’t too worried:

In addition to London’s nose, Bennett mentioned that Jack Salt is recovering from a light hamstring issue.

More than a Photo: Turning Words into Actions

Back in late September, Perrantes - and several members of the team - posted or retweeted a team photo showing the Cavaliers kneeling arm-in-arm.

Some supported the symbol and their choice to take a stance on a hot topic within society, and some did not, believing it to be disrespectful to the flag, national anthem, military, and/or police officers. Regardless of which side you fall on, you have to admire the steps following the statement.

Bennett required his players to vocalize and rationalize not only their actions, but their reasoning for making a social statement.

"Once I knew (the players') intentions and we sat down with them,” Bennett said on Monday, “It was positive. … Their desire was all about awareness. … It was in no way to disrespect — so many of them have family members that have served in the military or in the police department."

To follow up the players’ words with action, Bennett organized a meeting for his players with the Charlottesville Chief of Police, Alfred Thomas, and the Vice Mayor, Wes Bellamy.

The result of the meeting was only positive.

"They stood in front of us and said: 'This is bigger than differences. It's coming together. It's respecting people. Be educated young men. Do something positive. Live your life the right way'. It was an interaction."

According to Bennett, both Bellamy and Thomas urged the team to stand for the national anthem when the season gets underway, something Bennett says that Virginia is going to do.

The Cavaliers are already active in the Charlottesville community as they volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club and have organized events such as shoe drives. Their dedication to proactively steer helpful conversation within their community is admirable. Check out this EXCELLENT piece from David Teel of the Daily Press regarding the issue.

Social Shenanigans

Thirty-three Minutes of Coach Bennett

Check out the full press conference with Coach Bennett. It’s worth a listen.

Stay with Streaking the Lawn as we continue counting down the days until the Hoos tip off!