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Postgame: Tony Bennett on #2 Virginia win at #4 Duke

tony bennett uva basketballVirginia coach Tony Bennett talks with reporters after the second-ranked ‘Hoos won 65-63 at #4 Duke.

On coming back to win: “Sure, felt good. Last couple times I’ve been here it comes right down to the wire. It felt good to get it the way we did. They went to a zone, we struggled to make shots. I thought we got some good looks, it was a good decision on their part. We had pretty good manto-man offense. We were having trouble just knocking down some clean looks. They ran some good offense. But I think we were up 12 or 13, but then we got down by four or whatever the lead was. I kept trying to tell our guys during the time out or at least one of them, if we can just make a look, it will maybe open it up a little bit and just keep guarding your heart out. We weren’t perfect defensively, but we tried to work as hard as we could and be as sound as we could in that situation.”

On how much he has learned about the team thus far: “It’s a good sign for sure. But as everyone will tell you it’s one conference game in the middle part of the year so you don’t want to make too much of it. But this is a special environment as it always is here and you do have to have some poise and toughness in this setting. Different guys at different times, you know we tried to slide some different guys in the high post when we were struggling offensively. De’Andre [Hunter] did it, Devon [Hall] made a play. Kyle [Guy] hit the corner three, Ty [Jerome] hit the dagger up top. So we did some things. Jack [Salt] was battling to the best of his abilities defensively. They find ways. They’re a team that’s a joy to coach because they’re pretty clear on who they are and it doesn’t matter who’s getting the shots or whose doing what so I hope that will remain”

On Ty Jerome’s three pointer in the second half: “Haven’t you been watching us? You been following us for years. Ty [Jerome] has that. I think it was an awesome college game, and he does that. He had a little action when Kyle [Guy] hit it but it just didn’t run smooth. They just didn’t get matched up in the corner. So Kyle hit that big three and Ty, he likes to shoot that shot or he’ll drive so he’ll kind of keep you off balance but sometimes just a clean look. His was 24 or 25 feet [from the basket], that was huge. We needed that. He looked like a free safety going down the middle and grabbing that one because they were hurting us a little bit in transition, but they did a good job. They got a lot of young guys too. I thought we were doing good pretty early. Maybe got the game going how we wanted. Maybe trying to wear them down is not the right word, but just move them hard and not give them clean looks. And the zone sort of froze us.”

On outcome for the season so far: “It’s good. I wouldn’t have suspected that. I really wouldn’t have. As I said, there wasn’t a lot of experience or proven experience. So the guys have played. It’s the half way mark. They went into West Virginia and we were in a tough environment and we’ve continued to improve. That’s credit to, of course, the coaching staff but our guys, they know how they have to play. I keep saying, they’re very clear of who they are as a team. I always talk about humility. That’s our first pillar. Just knowing who you are as a team. I like the way they’re doing that and picking each other up.”

On message during the time Duke had taken the lead: “I was just trying to fight. You know as a coach, that call was important. It was a battle for the possession. Just the heat of the battle but then you always go back in the huddle. ‘Okay, here’s what we’re about.’ That was just me trying to make some points to the officials as coaches do, and the guys knew it in the huddle. They said, ‘Just knock down the shot and keep doing that.’ At the 10minute mark I was saying, ‘There’s so many possessions left. Can we just steady the ship and get after it.’”

On not having Isaiah play as much in this game: “Maybe that’s been the surprising thing all year. It’s just been different guys at different times stepping up and doing the job. We had our perimeter guys doing very good. We held them in the glass, Mamadi [Diakite] gave us some good lifts. Again the message was you don’t have to be perfect in this game, you don’t even have to be great but you’re going to have to be pretty good throughout the entire game and I think we did that. Even some of those missed shots were good shots and the guys have had a level of quality and have not had big drop offs for the most part. Five turnovers was good, for us. Of course that was good. And okay on the glass. We got a few mid-transition. Different guys at different times has been key.”




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