Home Notebook: Virginia coach Tony Bennett on Pitt, being back home on the weekend
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Notebook: Virginia coach Tony Bennett on Pitt, being back home on the weekend

Chris Graham
tony bennett sideline
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Pitt (15-8, 6-6 ACC) is the second-hottest team in the ACC right now, only behind Virginia (19-5, 10-3 ACC).

The Panthers have won five of their last six, with wins over Duke, Wake Forest and NC State, and a narrow loss at Miami, in that stretch.

UVA fans might be looking ahead to next week’s matchup with #7 UNC, but Tony Bennett knows that his team has a fight on its hands with Pitt.

“Jeff’s done a great job, he’s, all of our league, teams are talented, there’s good players on every team, and there’s fine coaching, and I think what Jeff’s done is unique,” Bennett said on today’s ACC teleconference, talking up Pitt coach Jeff Capel, who finally got the Panthers into an NCAA Tournament last season, in his fifth year at the school.

“He’s taken his good returning players and then meshed some really good transfer young players, high school kids coming in, and they found that blend, and yeah, to go into some of those environments and how they’ve played, and they have terrific players, they can score in the halfcourt, they can get down on the floor, inside, outside,” Bennett said. “Just obviously, uh, you know, some All-ACC players, obviously, that are playing that way, and they’re a complete team, and they make you earn, and he’s done a really good job. The last number of years, Pitt’s played some really good basketball.”

The two guys that Bennett will need to game-plan around are 6’8”, 230-pound senior power forward Blake Hinson (17.9 ppg, 5.0 rebs/g, 44.0% FG, 41.3% 3FG) and 6’5” freshman guard Carlton Carrington (13.6 ppg, 5.2 rebs/g, 4.2 assists/g, 39.7% FG, 28.6% 3FG).

“Hinson is strong, he can go inside out, and Carrington, they, they know how to play the game, and attack, and again, they can touch the paint, they play from the three,” Bennett said. “But it’s not just, it’s like any good team, they’ve got depth around those guys. And, and again, they put pressure on you. They’ve been real efficient, and been good on both ends. And as I said, Jeff and that team, he’s got them playing at a high level.”

Back home on a Saturday, for the first time in a while

The 80-76 win at Florida State on Saturday wrapped a stretch of seven straight weeks that had Virginia playing on the road in the ACC on a Saturday.

This Saturday, UVA hosts Wake Forest at noon, so, early, but still, a Saturday.

A reporter joked with Bennett on the conference call about maybe needing to get his guys on a bus on Friday night just to recreate their schedule from the past several weeks.

“Our schedule has been, you know, kind of all over the place, but as you get down to the stretch run, you just want to be as ready as you can,” Bennett said. “And again, if you’re playing quality basketball, we always talk about that, it should travel, it should, home, away, you just you got to show up and play, and the caliber of opponents we’re playing will require that.

“I think it’s been, we’ve had seven straight road games on Saturdays, and this is our first one since, might have been Syracuse, but just I guess the way the conference does the scheduling, I’m not sure how that all plays out. It’s interesting for sure, but here we are,” Bennett said.

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].