Kyle Guy: Virginia didn’t ‘freak out,’ took care of business

uva basketball bear creekVirginia basketball replayed its last 12 months in about two hours Friday afternoon here in Columbia.

The first hour, the ‘Hoos were getting dominated, again, by a 16 seed.

The second hour, redemption.

“You can see the growth in that game alone,” junior guard Kyle Guy said Saturday, on the eve of UVA’s second-round NCAA Tournament game with Oklahoma.

This time last spring, Guy was hiding behind sunglasses and hoodies on his way to and from classes on Grounds.

The kid wears his heart on his sleeve, evidenced by that famous Facebook post in which he went into detail on how hard it was on him and his teammates to process the loss to UMBC.

The team recovered to go 29-3 in the regular season, win another ACC regular-season title, and get another tournament top seed,

And then, Gardner-Webb happened.

Or rather, almost happened.

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The Runnin’ Bulldogs led, twice, by 14 points in the first half, and had the Colonial Life Arena noisily on its side.

The feeling in the arena was definitely similar to Charlotte a year ago.

Importantly for the Virginia basketball program, the feeling on the bench and in the locker room was not similar to March 2018.

“Last year, we panicked in that moment. This year, we didn’t,” Guy said, noting that the team hadn’t panicked all year, not when down big on the road at Louisville, down on the road in Chapel Hill.

“We haven’t panicked all year, actually. Which is something I’ve never been a part of, because I’m a panicker when it comes to losing, because I hate losing,” Guy said.

Guy is the one who has taken to saying of late, Calm is contagious.

That was key Friday afternoon.

“Last year, the players and the coaches freaked out. This year, it was nothing but positive thoughts, and just knowing that if we took care of our business, we’d be fine,” Guy said.

Column by Chris Graham

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Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

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