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Bad loss, sure, but Virginia is going to be fine

tony bennett
UVA coach Tony Bennett. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Fans, people who post on message boards – they can be mutually exclusive – look at an ugly loss, like Virginia’s 81-60 beatdown at Florida State, and think, bloviate, season’s over.

You do Tony Bennett a disservice.

“That’s one of our pillars. Thankfulness is, be thankful for what adversity teaches you, and are you wise enough and thankful enough to apply it so?“ Bennett told reporters after the Monday L.

This is the wisdom of a coach who has a banner hanging from the rafters – actually, still the most recent banner hanging from anybody’s rafters.

That 2019 national title team didn’t go undefeated.

It lost in the ACC Tournament that year to a pretty good Florida State team that controlled their semifinal matchup from the opening minutes in a double-digit win.

That UVA team won out from there, thus the banner.

No team since Indiana in 1976 has won a national title as an unbeaten, so, it’s not not losing that’s important, because you’re going to lose a game, two, more, eventually.

It’s how you respond.

“Here we are, in every situation, it refocuses you in ways I think that you need it,” Bennett said. “We’ve been playing some good basketball, for sure we have. It wasn’t tonight, partly due to Florida State, partly due to us, but, apply it.”

Those fans, those folks on message boards – again, they’re not all one and the same – tend to like to cast aspersions when their favorite team loses a game like this.

Their heart wasn’t in it.

No effort.

Didn’t want it.

You don’t get it. The guys on the other side give out scholarships, spend gobs of money on recruiting, coaching, the whole nine yards, because they want to win, too.

Sometimes, and this can be a bit revolutionary to have to consider, but sometimes, on a given night, they’re just better, on that given night.

“We approach every game, the same mentality. It’s going to be a fight. Today, they just won,” senior guard Tomas Woldentensae said.

Florida State, credit, made some shots.

The ‘Noles were 13-of-24 from three, and even hit 8-of-17 on two-point jumpers.

For perspective, this was a team, coming in, that was 38.7 percent from three and 35.5 percent on its two-point jumpers on the season.

Doing the math, that’s four additional threes and two extra two-point jumpers than normal.

Sixteen points of your 21-point margin, right there.

Effort, lack thereof, is reflected on what a team does in the lane.

FSU was 8-of-17 on shots at the rim Monday night.

Season: 67.3 percent.

Good interior defense from UVA saved seven points.

Good interior defense is effort.

There was effort.

FSU just made shots.

They needed a break to get OT to get a win over league bottom feeder Wake Forest 48 hours ago.

They were purring Monday night.

Happens.

“I think that was our third or fourth game in a short amount of time,” Bennett said. “So, we take a day off, recharge, and then you come back guns a blazing, with your tenacity, your approach and your focus.

“We’re getting down to the end, that’s the thing,” Bennett said. “You don’t want to leave anything on the table. That’s what we got to do moving forward.”

One thing you knew coming into Big Monday was that UVA is one of those 15-20 teams that can run the table and win a national title in 2021.

Now we know that we can add Florida State to that list.

Tonight was more about that, and less about whatever deficiencies you want to find in Virginia.

Fans of the NBA see great teams lose the occasional game by 20, get on the plane, go to the next city, play the next game, and not think twice about the loss by 20.

Get yourself to that mindset about your ‘Hoos.

They’re going to be fine.

Story by Chris Graham


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