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Chris Graham: The deficiencies with Bennett’s Cavs are obvious

Those in the know around the ACC give Tony Bennett a break with his 2012-2013 Virginia team. The Cavs are mighty young, they say. They’ll get better as the season goes on and figure out the intricacies of Bennett’s Pack-Line defense.

Sure, they’re lacking at key positions – even when senior point guard Jontel Evans returns from injury, UVa. is still behind the curve at the point, and the post is laughable with underwhelming Akil Mitchell the best option inside.

But hey, Bennett knows how to coach. He took the Cavs to the NCAA Tournament just last year with another largely outgunned team, right?

No more free passes.

Bennett’s squad is continually young and outgunned because of recruiting misses resulting in an unsettling wave of transfers that have left the cupboard more bare than it was than when he took over for Dave Leitao four years ago.

And remember, his success – his one year of success, last year – came with guys that Leitao had recruited, Mike Scott key among them, leading the way.

It’s become fashionable at UVa. to blame the predecessor for the high-profile program struggles (see London, Mike and Groh, Al), but with regard to Virginia basketball, it was the predecessor who provided what should have been the building blocks for the successor to take things to the next level.

Instead, the Bennett era has been Ride the Mike Scott Horse As Far As It Takes Us and then, er, now what do we do, exactly?

It’s early, awfully early, to be putting down a verdict on where this team is going to end up, but I’ve got a decent track record when it comes to making these kinds of predictions of late.

Four games into the 2008-2009 season, Leitao’s fourth at UVa., after a home loss to Liberty that dropped the ‘Hoos to 3-1 on that season, I predicted that those Cavs would lose 20 games and that Leitao would be fired at the end of that season. I wasn’t entirely right – Virginia went 10-18, but Leitao was fired.

I’ll hedge on how this one will turn out, but … I don’t feel good about the 2012-2013 Cavs, and I feel less when it comes to the mountain of excuses that are being built up to justify the lack of results.

Chris Graham is the co-author of Mad About U: Four Decades of Basketball at University Hall, the definitive book on the history of UVa. basketball.


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