UVa. gets tough test after layoff with UNCW
Story by Chris Graham
After playing seven games in an 18-day stretch, then having a week in between games with Penn State and Auburn, the UVa. men’s basketball team had a 12-day break before its next scheduled game with UNC-Wilmington on Saturday.
It’s not anything new for Virginia basketball, which has traditionally taken among the longer exam breaks in Division I basketball. It is something new for first-year coach Tony Bennett, who had a shorter and more manageable seven-day break at his previous stop at Washington State that was tough enough as far as trying to maintain a sense of continuity with his team.
“It’s an interesting schedule that we have. We play so many games in a short amout of time, then have a monster break. But it’s necessary when you’re at a school like Virginia. The way they do the finals, the length of it, that’s just the way it goes,” said Bennett on a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon.
The good news – the break has given junior forward Mike Scott time to heal from a nagging ankle sprain that would have either kept him out of games, limited his effectiveness and possibly if he pushed it led to something lingering that could have had a season-long impact.
The break has also given senior forward Jamil Tucker time to get in basketball shape after his return from a leave of absence at the start of the season, though Bennett said today that he doesn’t expect Tucker to be available for the UNC-Wilmington game.
Bennett’s approach to the break in general: “You just try to find the positive in it and go to work.”
“You can get to work on practicing. Sometimes their minds are in different places, but we’ve tried to use it to really work hard and get some quality practice time and work on some things that we really haven’t been able to address when games were upon us every two or three days,” Bennett said.