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Breaking down the play: Should Tony have called a TO?

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

Some of you are wondering why UVA coach Tony Bennett didn’t call a timeout after Duke’s D.J. Steward missed the front end of a one-and-one with nine seconds left.

It’s hindsight, because Virginia didn’t get a good shot off. Kihei Clark had issues with his handle at the top of the key, allowing Mathew Hurt, who had switched onto him, to recover and partially block Clark’s quasi-desperation three inside of two seconds to go.

A frustrating sight.

But Bennett didn’t need a timeout.

He’d already called one.

After a Clark miss from three with 14 seconds left that ended with a held ball, possession Duke, Bennett called a timeout to strategize.

“We were like, if they miss it, attack, get to the rim,” Bennett said after the 66-65 loss. “We were in the bonus, and I was hoping we could get into the lane, and either get one up and rebound, flip it to Sam (Hauser), or someone trailing.”

For whatever reason, Clark played it like Steward had made both ends to put Duke up three.

He didn’t attack after getting a screen that gave him the 6’9” Hurt one-on-one, instead choosing to try to play Hurt into getting an open look from three.

Clark had played almost this exact scenario out before, last year in Chapel Hill.

Bennett called a timeout with 10 seconds left, ahead of Christian Keeling making the third of three free throws, putting North Carolina up one.

He directed Clark to attack, and the point guard did, driving into the lane and kicking out to Tomas Woldetensae for the dagger three with a second to go.

In a one-point loss, the final play gets all the attention, but Virginia didn’t score in the final 3:09, after a pair of Jay Huff free throws put UVA up 65-62.

There were looks – Clark had a rim run blocked, Casey Morsell missed a contested jumper, Hauser missed a contested three that was rebounded by Jay Huff.

“It comes down a lot of times to making plays late,” Bennett said. “You have to be able to bounce up, hit a shot. Casey missed that separate shot, he had Hurt on him. He hit a couple of those, I think that was an OK shot. They just were skin-tight, and there wasn’t a, I’ll look at the film, I wish we could have gotten a couple better looks and cleaned up some of the turnovers or the block shots.

“There’s just sometimes it’s drawing and kicking and making the decision, but to not score last few minutes was tough. I thought Jay, when he got the rebound, I thought there was one where he could have gone back up. I think he kicked it out. Because shots were hard to come by late.”

Story by Chris Graham


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