Home General Manager Tony Bennett didn’t do Coach Tony Bennett any favors

General Manager Tony Bennett didn’t do Coach Tony Bennett any favors

Chris Graham
tony bennett
Photo: UVA Athletics

Duke handed Virginia its ninth loss of the season Saturday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Handed, as in, 73-48.

And unfortunately, Virginia couldn’t do anything but watch.

The game was ugly from the opening tip.

According to AFP editor Chris Graham, who witnessed the beatdown in person, the game was so anticlimactic that even the famed Cameron Crazies were bored.

The Cavaliers sure ruined their Saturday night party.

By being inept.

From the opening tip, this was nothing but a glorified scrimmage for the Blue Devils.

Had Virginia received a paycheck for making the trip to Durham, they would owe the Blue Devils a refund – with interest.

The script for yet another double-digit loss by the Cavaliers was all too familiar, and honestly getting all too old.

As expected, Reece Beekman led Virginia in all the meaningful categories, 18 points, seven assists, and six rebounds.

Isaac McKneely was Virginia’s only other double-digit scorer.

In fact, only two Cavaliers had more than one basket.

UVA failed to reach the 50-point mark for the fourth time in five games.

The pattern here?

Virginia’s overreliance on Beekman, and the complete lack of any offensive adjustments to create different scoring opportunities beyond Beekman, makes this team easy to defend, and frankly, difficult to watch.

Somehow despite the season-long issues on offense, the Cavaliers are still in third place in the ACC, and a win in the season finale against Georgia Tech will clinch a top-four finish and a coveted double-bye in the ACC Tournament – and likely an at-large NCAA Tournament berth.

Wow, nine losses, all by double-digits, and Virginia will not take the floor in Washington until Thursday.

As many proclaim, the ACC is weak this season.

They may be right.

Is roster management the problem, or is the roster the problem?

I’ve been writing this all season. Taine Murray should be a starter, and Andrew Rohde coming off the bench, if that.

Murray is far more a complete player than Rohde. He has been in the Virginia system for three years, a coveted trait for the coaching staff.

Murray is solid on defense and can make a jumpshot. He’s not flashy, but steady.

Next up, Virginia’s lack of size in the post has been glaring this season.

The possible answer to that has also been glaring.

It’s sitting at the end of the Cavalier bench, redshirt Anthony Robinson.

Robinson, at 6’10’’, has added almost 30 pounds to his body since fall. He’s an intimidating body, sitting in his warmups game after game.

Robinson should have never been redshirted this season.

Redshirting in college basketball is yesterday’s news.

The Virginia staff could have integrated Robinson into the system this season, picking the right situations to give him playing time.

Robinson would have enjoyed that November-December cupcake buffet Virginia feasted upon.

For sure, the Cavaliers could have used his big body at times this season.

I just don’t see the value of redshirting a player unless an injury is involved.

If a player develops into a solid player, he’s not hanging around for five years anyway.

Now, here’s where I may jump the tracks in this observation.

Ryan Dunn, a possible first-round NBA draft pick, should not be a starter.

OK, I said it.

I feel better getting it out.

Dunn is simply so weak offensively that he is a liability.

How so?

Well, not getting technical, he clogs the offensive flow.

Or what offensive flow Virginia has.

Dunn may prove more effective coming off the bench as a sixth man.

Give him a chance to observe the game a few minutes before he takes the floor.

How could it hurt?

It’s not who starts a game, rather, which players are most effective during the time they are on the floor.

OK, you can’t simply bench everyone, and Jordan Minor should continue to start, by default only.

Minor was the key to the midseason eight-game winning streak, contributing on both ends of the floor.

But as quickly as Minor’s switch flipped on, it’s now flipped off.

Lately Minor is getting just over 12 minutes a game.

Is this on Minor, or the staff for not adjusting to keep that switch from turning off?

Could the offensive system be adjusted to better optimize what the current roster’s strengths are?


In fact, it has been adjusted this season.

There was a fresh look in the Boston College game Wednesday night.

Virginia responded, beating the Eagles 72-68.

It’s always nice to have a “Plan B” in case “Plan A” won’t work.

So, is it x’s and o’s or Jimmies and Joes?

It doesn’t matter what system you run, what offensive schemes you implement, when, except for a couple of players, you have a roster full of players that simply can’t shoot.

Basketball really isn’t that difficult to digest.

At the end of the day, you must make some shots.

The answer to what is bothering the Cavaliers simply may not be on the current roster.

Like it or not, the transfer portal has taken a huge edge away from Virginia’s system of developing players for the long haul.

But that same transfer portal can provide Bennett with the opportunity to correct the current roster weaknesses.

Going forward, General Manager Tony Bennett needs to give Head Coach Tony Bennett a fighting chance.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].