UVA Basketball: Tony Bennett, Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome on Virginia-Oklahoma

uva basketball bear creekTHE MODERATOR: Student-athletes from Virginia, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome.

Q. Both of you guys can take a shot at answering this. You’re pretty aware of guys that have come before you in the UVA program and what they’ve accomplished and been able to do. In terms of your group, if you’re able to have a deep run in this tournament, what do you think that would be for your legacy, and where do you think you guys would fit in?
TY JEROME: Just to be in the same boat or be able to be mentioned with those guys is a huge honor, and we’re extremely thankful for that, all the wins we’ve been able to achieve. But we’re not really worried about entertaining that right now. For us, it’s just about trying to do everything we can for our team. We just want to play with this group more and more, and we have to win to be able to do that. We just want to win for us and for the coaches and Coach Bennett really.

KYLE GUY: Yeah, we can come back to that conversation when our careers are over. We’ve got more important things on our mind right now. Like Ty said, to be mentioned with Malcolm, Joe Harris, and guys that are excelling in the league or guys making money professionally or whatever they’re doing is truly an honor.

Q. I know it’s embarrassing, Kyle, asking Ty to talk about you. The other day Kyle said he invited himself to your house when you were in high school for the All-Star Game. You said he started following you on social media. Kyle seems to be a unique guy in a lot of ways. He helped a guy up yesterday, he’ll congratulate people on the other team if they beat you guys. Have you met many guys like him, and what’s it like to have him as a friend?
TY JEROME: First of all, we’re teammates, not friends. Strictly teammates. It stops there (laughter). Yeah, he’s really unique, and one of the best things about him is how confident he is in his own skin. He’s not really worried about a lot of people’s opinions. He’s really confident. He can annoy you a lot, but honestly, he doesn’t care really. He’s super confident on and off the court. He’s funny. He’s fun to be around. He’s just a really unique person, like you said, and it’s fun to be around somebody who isn’t worried about the outside world.

KYLE GUY: Thanks, man.

Q. Kyle, how much college basketball do you watch on television during the season? How well do you know teams at Oklahoma’s level?
KYLE GUY: We’re definitely a basketball junkie group. We watch basketball together all the time. It’s kind of how we bond off the court. Playing cards and watching basketball is what we do. We got a chance to watch Oklahoma in Battle For Atlantis, obviously, because they were there. We’ve watched teams from all over. We know they’re a good team and I’m looking forward to playing them.

Q. Kyle, with a night to sleep on it, is it a relief to have finally gotten that first round out of the way? Do you still have that pressure on you from the fact that with all the high seeds Virginia’s had the last several years, they haven’t made it to a Final Four?
KYLE GUY: I would say the outside world is always going to try to put pressure on you. Sometimes you can find yourself putting pressure on yourself. But we’re just trying to have — Coach was referencing the Friday Night Lights, “clear eyes, full hearts.” So just trying to focus on what’s important. We got out of the first round my freshman year. Last year we weren’t as fortunate. This year we got the job done. So just looking forward to playing Oklahoma.


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Q. Kyle, I know you’ve mentored Kihei a little this year. Was what he was able to do yesterday on defense, chasing after loose balls, getting rebounds, steals, sort of a good example of the value he brings to you guys?
KYLE GUY: Yeah, he may not be scoring the most points every night, but he’s a very valuable player on this team. The little things he does is kind of Isaiah Wilkins-esque. Obviously, he’s not as big as anybody on the court, but he does some things that — you know, picking up full court for 33 games now, you don’t see me doing that. So he’s a selfless player, and he doesn’t care about stats, and he does a lot of little things that help us win.

Q. For both you guys, going back to some of those players who have come before you, was there anybody early in your career and/or now that you stay in touch with who’s had a big influence on you in terms of the guys who came before?
TY JEROME: I stay in touch with everybody that we’ve played with, even the guys that transferred, like Marial, D.T., Darius Thompson. So I stay in touch with everyone really. I still speak to Devon almost every day. I speak to London all the time, Isaiah all the time. We have a relationship with all those guys who have left.

And then even the guys we haven’t played with, like Malcolm and Joe and Justin, I spent weekends with them, too. So our alumni base, basically everyone reaching back and wanting to see all of us succeed is great.

KYLE GUY: Yeah, that’s one of the special things about this program is how all the former players really just buy in to this program and want to give back and come back and hang out with us and mentor us in any way they can. We’re all open ears for that kind of stuff whenever — sometimes we don’t listen to Justin Anderson very much, but all the other players — no, I’m kidding. Because he’s got experience and he’s obviously in the league doing just fine.

That’s a brotherhood that this university and program has, and we’re thankful for that.

Q. What kind of things do they counsel you on or what kind of mentorship and advice do they give you?
TY JEROME: Before the tournament, Malcolm texted me, and he said just don’t put so much pressure on yourself, continue to lead the group, and just be yourself and trust your work. And then after the game, he texted me good job. Now go make it through the weekend. Really just little things like that, where he didn’t have to text me. He’s going through his own rehab process right now, and for him to be worried about or be concerned about what we’re doing shows how selfless he is and shows what a great group of guys have come through here.

KYLE GUY: Yeah, for me, I talk to Isaiah a lot, and he’s just a fun-loving guy, as you know him. He’s all about taking care of your business but remember to have fun in it. So that’s what he told me leading into this tournament.

Q. Oklahoma prefers a fast pace. I just wondered if you guys prefer a pace. Secondly, they’ve been getting good performances from Doolittle and just wondered about your thoughts on the inside. They got a lot of paint points yesterday.
TY JEROME: They probably want to play a little faster than us. We’re really about getting the best shot, and we want to keep teams out of transition, so sometimes the game will be slower if we have preference. And I think Doolittle has been playing great. He had a great game yesterday — or two days — yeah, yesterday. So we’ll have to put different matchups on him, throw different coverages at him. They’re also really balanced, too, so it’s not just him.

KYLE GUY: We already watched some film on them, and we’re going to watch more tonight. We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, but we know they do have a balanced offensive scoring attack. I think four guys had more than 17 yesterday, I believe. They do want to get up and down. We’re fine with that. We try to keep teams out of transition. I know we take what the defense gives us, so whether that’s fast break points or a quick shot or a late shot clock shot, whatever is the best shot is what we’re going to take.

Q. Ty, how much of a benefit was it, if it was a benefit, to be challenged the way you were for a half yesterday?
TY JEROME: I mean, not necessarily about benefit or non-benefit. It’s just you’re in the tournament, so every team is good. The whole — you’re playing a 16 seed. The game shouldn’t be close, that whole stigma is kind of nonsense because every team is good. They won their conference tournament. They came out playing at a high level. So we had to respond. Now it’s kind of just move on. You survive and advance and focus on the next team.

Q. This is for Kyle. You were talking yesterday that you’re very competitive on the court, but that isn’t going to make you forget how you were raised. Could you talk for a moment, if you don’t mind, about how you were raised?
KYLE GUY: I have a unique family setup. So I have two stepparents and obviously two biological parents, and they’re all best friends, which is something that you don’t see. My stepdad and dad would go on road trips with me when I was in the recruiting process. They drive down to games together. That in itself is hen — obviously, they butt heads, because that’s just how life is, but they keep that away from me because they want what’s best for me, and I owe them a lot for that. Then I have five siblings, which is why I wear the number 5.

We were just raised to be good people, be kind to everyone, no judgment, no discrimination. So that’s just kind of how I’ve always been and how I want to try to continue to be.

Q. Kyle, you mentioned seeing OU in the Bahamas. Wondering if you had an impression of them back then and how much of a challenge do they present to you all?
KYLE GUY: Yeah, they’re a big, physical, athletic team, which against anybody can impose their will. I think they really found their rhythm now, as compared to Battle For Atlantis. Then again, we weren’t playing at a highest level either then. It was early in the season. They’ve grown and gotten a lot better. So I think it will be a great game.

Q. Kihei said that he tries to pick your brain every chance he gets and absorb the knowledge that you have. What have you seen, how far he’s come and what improvements do you think he’s made this year?
TY JEROME: I think the biggest thing for him is that he’s grown on just understanding the value of every possession. He’s always had that work ethic, that competitiveness and that drive from day one, but I think he was a little sloppy with the ball at certain times when he came in. Everyone who comes from high school is just used to playing with a huge leash in high school. So I think he’s grown so much from day one in that aspect. I think that his biggest asset to this team is his selflessness. He could care less how much he scores. He’s just all about winning.

We have certain plays where he’ll take — he’ll bring the ball up. He’ll play the point guard position on certain plays that don’t involve ball screens, and then the plays that do involve ball screens, he’ll ask me if I want the ball. He’s just super selfless. He’s all about winning. He’s all about the team. He’ll give up his body for the team. And we have to tell him to be more aggressive, too, sometimes. So just a great teammate and an ultra-competitor.

Q. Kyle, we kind of joked about what people are going to ask you guys once you get past that 1-16 game, but it was a relief for a lot of folks yesterday. Can you break down the dynamic, it’s still the NCAA Tournament, you’re not going to be relaxed now, but still getting the, quote, unquote, monkey off your back and moving forward?
KYLE GUY: I think how we won yesterday is a huge testament of our growth from last year. Last year, we were in the same situation, and we panicked as an entire program, and this year we didn’t, and we took care of business and got the job done. Yeah, we can breathe a little bit easier now, but at the same time, it’s the NCAA Tournament, so like you said, we’re not relaxed. We’re not content by any means. We still have our foot on the gas and just trying to go as far as we can.

THE MODERATOR: Virginia head coach Tony Bennett. We’ll start with questions on the front right.

Q. Tony, Kyle Guy seems to be sort of a different type of person. He’s very happy. He’s very accessible. I’ve seen him go out of his way to congratulate opponents who have beaten you guys, which is rare, of course. Yesterday, he accidentally knocked down a Gardner-Webb player, went over and told him it wasn’t intentional. You seem to have a pretty good relationship with him. What is it that makes him the way he is, and what is it you find refreshing about him?
TONY BENNETT: I think I’ve been fortunate to coach a lot of guys that are just a strong character, and that comes from, I think, how he’s been brought up from his family. He is, he’s a kind person. He enjoys the game. He has a love for the game and is lighthearted. So I think that’s a credit certainly to his family. Again, he just has always been that way. He’s a competitor, but yet enjoys it and understands the big picture in regards to that.

Q. Tony, I think it’s fair to say maybe a portion of the fan base had maybe been down on Kihei at times this year because of his offensive production. Was what he able to do yesterday defensively, chasing loose balls, getting rebounds and steals, sort of indicative of why he’s continued to be a big part of your rotation in starting?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, he’s been so valuable. You can’t concern yourself with the opinion of others. He’s helped us. He guards the ball hard. He scraps, and he’s made some good offensive plays for us, gives us a dimension that we haven’t had in a long time. Again, you asked specifically defensively, and it’s that, when you play against certain kinds of teams that have elite quickness and you can set your defense with good ball pressure, that’s really important, and he’s allowed us to do that.

Again, offensively, he can touch the paint, and he’s made some really good plays and passes for us. He’s so competitive, and he brings that. I think that is contagious when you watch that, when you’re behind that and he’s setting your defense and you’re a player, I think that can be inspiring or get the guys going. Taking charges, he’s done that over the course of the year.

Q. You’ve told us a few times this year that you’ve encouraged the guys to take joy in the pursuit of a championship. You’ve also told us in past years that your disappointment in losses stems from wanting your guys to win, wanting them to experience success, Final Four is the thing that they want. I’m curious how you strike a balance of finding joy in the pursuit of a championship versus any pressure you feel to get some players that you obviously care about as far as they can go.
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, we talk — it was actually a quote in a book I read, “the joy of competition and the fun and the pursuit of a championship.” That can’t define you in terms of who you are, but it’s worth it to go after it for all you’re worth. These guys have been gifted. All the players and teams in this tournament have such gifts. It’s a worthy goal to go after.

Only one gets it, but I think you, as a coach, certainly you have goals and dreams for yourself, and when you spend as much time with these young men getting to know them, going through the ups and the downs and the battles, it’s just they’re an extended part of your family, and you want to see it go well for them and the program.

So I think it’s just our theme this year is united pursuit, and that’s, I think, a good way to kind of summarize what it’s about. You’re so united in everything through this pursuit. That means in success, and that also means in failure. If you can keep that balance, I think that helps, but it certainly — it’s a great desire for everyone.

Q. Tony, you’ve taken some transfers at Virginia, and they’ve usually been players who were starters at their other schools. What do you tell them about playing time? Everybody wants to play. And also, for guys like Nigel and Braxton, who are immediately eligible, how challenging is the pack line and your system in general to learn so quickly?
TONY BENNETT: I think, when you come into a program that has been fortunate enough to have success, you just — you have to say, do you want to be a part of this? And you can’t guarantee anything unless you know here’s a spot, X amount of minutes, but that’s so fluid. You just want guys that are willing to go get everything that they earn. Sometimes they maybe earn less than they get, but will they be willing to be united in the pursuit of what we’re trying to do?

I think there is always a learning curve when you come from a different system. I think the experience that transfers have as playing in this game, and they understand the physicality and the intensity — a guy like Braxton, who played in the SEC and played in an NCAA Tournament game or two, that’s invaluable. And he was an important part in this, I think it was 12 minutes. Every game we’ve seen this year, sometimes it’s more minutes, sometimes it’s less. But he understood, when he became eligible this year, when DeAndre and some of the established guys there, it was going to be — we’ll talk about that. We’ll plug you in where we can and you’ll get what you earn, and we’ll just keep plugging because he’s an important part of this.

Q. OU hasn’t had the season it wanted until yesterday when they played really well. They’re a senior-dominated team — six, I think, play. Did you sense, when you watched them play or through the video, that those guys have a sense of urgency now that they’re end of the road? And in your experience, is that a factor, do you think, in the NCAA Tournament?
TONY BENNETT: Of course it is. Just playing high level ball at the right time. We were in Atlantis in the early season tournament over Thanksgiving, and they were playing a little different. Now they’re playing real big. I think Doolittle is playing the three sometimes. They have the talent. Coach Kruger is one of the best coaches there is. When I was at Wisconsin, he was in the Big Ten, and I’ve followed him and have a great amount of respect for him.

What he’s done with last year’s team was very good, and how he’s taken this team and used the versatility as strength and how it culminated yesterday — and other games. It wasn’t just yesterday, but was impressive. So to have experience, to have veterans and sort of that end of the road or seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, there is certainly a sense of urgency. So they showed it at a high level the other day, yesterday, and they cause some or present problems matching up with them because they score in unique ways.

Q. Tony, you said a moment ago Kyle is lighthearted. Is he all business on the court, in practice and everything or do you sometimes have to remind him that this is a business-type deal? How did you find out about him, and how did you get him to come to UVA?
TONY BENNETT: I think he enjoys — there’s a joy to the game. He enjoys playing. He has fun on the court, but he’s competitive, and he plays hard. I haven’t had a problem with him, say, be more business-like because he works hard. I found out about him — we were watching another guard, and Coach Sanchez said, hey, look at this skinny guy on the other court. I think it was in Chicago at an Adidas event. We kept watching. He’s pretty thin. I don’t know. He kept making buckets and, again, was real competitive. You just kind of, your eye caught him, and we followed him more and loved him and thought, boy, he could be really good.

So we got involved and weren’t sure, being a kid from the Midwest, Indiana, if we could lure him or get him interested in us, but it worked out. We connected, and I think he really took off, I think once he committed to us, then he became a McDonald’s All-American. He was highly recruited, but I think we got him committed, and it just went to another level. So I’m glad we got in early, and I’m glad Coach Sanchez pointed out the skinny kid on the court to the left of me.

Q. How has Mamadi’s game developed offensively over the last few years? I think back to last season at Syracuse, he made a bunch of acrobatic jumpers, falling away, awkward angles. Is that kind of an underappreciated part of his game?
TONY BENNETT: I think he’s just gotten better and better. Ty made the comment yesterday. It was a little bit of a shaky start for everyone. Mamadi’s matured in the sense that he fought through that and he gave us some play on the offensive rebounding, some post moves and finishing, and he does have touch. It’s just in increments. It’s just gotten better every year. I think it’s just maturity. It’s experience. He’s always, I would say, a little newer to the game than most kids from America, and he’s, again, showed great flashes, and that’s become more consistent. He had a really good outing yesterday in a big time setting.

Q. Coach, Oklahoma had a big day yesterday in paint points, and it seems you stressed that. Do you and can you talk about that matchup?
TONY BENNETT: We stress that on offense or defense? Keeping them out of the paint?

Q. Just the paint points. Yeah, you defensively.
TONY BENNETT: They shot — I think it was 62 percent inside the three-point line from two-point range yesterday. Scoring 95 points, and I think they only took 13 threes. That shows you their efficiency and how they run their actions and, again, how their bigs can back you down and their guards and post you up in play. It’s going to be a war in that regard. It’s kind of going to be bend but not don’t break because they have the ability to create their own, and that’s the test because they can space it.

I don’t know if Brady would be their four or their five, but he can space it. Doolittle can go to work as he’s working in the post. So they put some pressure on you with that. But we have to be as good as we can at making them shoot the contested shots. That’s our goal every game defensively. That’s kind of the pack line mentality. Can you pressure the ball but be jammed up and make people shoot the majority of their shots contested and bothered, not at the rim.

Q. Before the opener, the guys were talking about the TED talk that you showed them, and earlier, Kyle mentioned that you quoted Friday Night Lights. I wonder how recent that was. And also, when it comes to finding things to motivate them or push their buttons. Do you enjoy kind of playing part coach, part psychologist when it comes to that stuff?
TONY BENNETT: I love movies. I love quoting movies, movie lines. Kyle loves to quote Fletch. So there you go. Oh, he already left. He was asking — did he leave? He wanted to know more about Kyle’s kindness. I guess I didn’t give him enough the first time. He can quote a lot of Fletch lines. Friday Night Lights — “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” Everybody knows that, and that’s such a good thing.

As a coach, you’re always trying to find a way — I don’t know. I can remember quoting a line from The Karate Kid, and I’m talking to our guys, and they’re looking at me sort of blank. And I’m thinking of the original Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio, and they’re thinking the one after that. Sometimes my age shows up, and I can’t quite connect. But you try to motivate in different ways, and I think that’s the fun stuff seeing how you can connect with the guys. Some things just click with the guys and respond. That’s part of coaching — teaching, motivating, trying to inspire them, encourage them, challenge them, get after them. It’s all mixed in.

Q. Tony, you mentioned — Kyle mentioned that, with you guys going to the Battle For Atlantis, you saw Oklahoma then. Did you have a first impression with them? And also, to kind of add on to that, how much do you guys feel you’ve grown since that tournament, as well?
TONY BENNETT: They were huge. The way they were playing their size. They were one of the bigger teams. Playing now — at the time, they would play Doolittle, Kristian it is, at the three at times. Now they’re playing them sometimes again four, five. But I just remember their size. We did not end up playing them. We played solid basketball, had a good tournament and ended up winning that. So we just saw, I think it was — they played Wisconsin. I think we would have played the winner of that, if I can’t remember, the Wisconsin-Oklahoma game. One of our coaches said, I haven’t seen a team that big. Wisconsin had a good game against them then.

Have we improved since then? I think every team improves in certain ways. I think we’ve just become more settled. Different guys have stepped up. Braxton Key has — he’s been good for us, and he’s established himself more and more. Mamadi, at times, Kihei, those guys who are a little more experienced now have really added to our program.

Q. With the Friday Night Lights reference, first, what was kind of the message and the point you were trying to get across with that? Could you see the guys kind of get it? Do you have any Friday Night Lights fans on the team?
TONY BENNETT: I don’t know if the guys got it or not. No, it was the quote, “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” It’s just, if you clearly understand who you are as a team, your identity and what you hang your hat on, either as an individual player or as a team, and you have a full heart in your pursuit of it, you can’t lose. Maybe someone will beat you, but you can’t lose. It’s pretty simple.

I think I asked, have we got any Friday Night Lights fans? I think most of them knew that quote, so that was the idea. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I like the movie, so it was good.

Q. Tony, you mention often that you tell guys who maybe don’t start or get the full complement of minutes, be patient, your time is coming. I can’t tell you when, but it is. It’s easy for you to say. How difficult is it for them to accept that and be patient? And on the flip side, are you pleased with the patience guys like Braxton and Mamadi and Jay have shown? Because at times, including yesterday, they’ve been invaluable for you.
TONY BENNETT: Of course, they’re a huge part of that team. Every guy is so valuable. That’s the hardest thing. These guys come from high school, and they’re the main player. Sometimes delayed gratification is very hard in today’s society, with all of us, but for young people, it’s the instant gratification. Those who are willing to wait and work, it’s rewarding, and it’s doing stuff for them beyond which I think will produce fruit in their lives, way past just the season, but that is the challenge.

I’m sure friends, family, hey, you should be getting more opportunities. I think that’s also why there’s such a transfer. The numbers are so big. But those usually who fight and wait it out, good things happen. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys. At times, they’re playing big minutes, and their time is still coming. Some guys — not everybody can play 30 minutes a game or 35, but I’ve liked their attitudes, and I love that at just the right times, they’ve stepped up.

Q. Was there a tipping point for your recruitment of international players, or has that just gradually grown as the game has grown that way?
TONY BENNETT: When I was at Washington State, I try to think who our first — was it Aron Baynes from Australia? I had spent some time in Australia and New Zealand after playing. And then Kirk Penney, a guy who played for my father at Wisconsin, is like a little brother to me, is from New Zealand. When I lived over there, I got to know him. One of my assistants, Ben Johnson, at Washington State played over there. So we had that connection, then we got couple guys from Europe.

When you’re at Washington State, Virginia, schools, I think sometimes finding those hidden gems, guys that are academically sound that are excited to come over, a lot of schools are doing it. Sometimes you can find players that maybe you wouldn’t be in such a fight for here, or you would be in a fight, I’m saying, if there’s a player of that caliber. If you have connections, if you can get to them early, sometimes you have a better chance to land them whereas, if they’re in the states, they’re so exposed, and it’s such a recruiting battle. So you try to find your niches. That’s what we’ve done.

Q. What are the specific challenges with finding those guys?
TONY BENNETT: It’s connections over there. More guys are exposed over the Internet and all that. It’s just trusting people, getting your eyes on them, getting video, all those things. Trying to assess the competition that they’re playing against, and you don’t always get it right, but we’ve been fortunate where some of those guys have been terrific for us.

Q. If you’ve already been asked this, I’ll get it off the transcript, but are there advantages to being scared a little bit or being challenged the way you were in the first half yesterday?
TONY BENNETT: I already answered that, so get it off the transcript. No, I’m just kidding. I didn’t (laughter).

You know, that was — you felt, certainly, the way Gardner-Webb played, as I said, was challenging because of how they use their fours and fives, the way they’re shooting, their quickness, and to get down like that and feel the crowd turn. We were in that spot last year, and human nature says this could happen again, but you’ve got to keep fighting. That was the thing that, I don’t know if it was good or not, but we just talked about that at halftime. You got to fight. You can’t panic, but you’ve got to fight.

As I said, only the guys that played and were part of that team last year and that were in that locker room this year and understand all that was there will appreciate them responding the way they did in light of that. Like I said, I’m glad that we, they, all of us could experience that turnaround in that setting, which pressure, stress, those things, they put you in stuff, and you see some of the best players and best athletes in the world. You can come unravelled in that, and we have at times, and we fought through some of that stuff and came out on the positive end. So I think that was important for sure.

Q. Kyle and Ty were talking about former players, how they stay in touch, they mentor, they text. One, what does that give your current guys, hearing from them? And what does it mean to you the guys who are in the NBA or rehabbing from injuries, things like that, still take the time to be involved in the program?
TONY BENNETT: It’s everything. It kind of leads back to the question why you want success for the young men that you coach, because I know the kind of young men they’ll become, and I know how they’re going to pour back into the program and what they’re about. So you just desperately want it. When you have a healthy alumni base or former players that are helping your current players or just come back and work out with our strength coach and they keep in touch with us, that’s the most — some of the most rewarding stuff as a coach, I would say. That’s the stuff that’s going to last.

I see that with my father when guys from whatever teams he had, his high school players, they’ll still go and visit with him. They’ll play a round of golf, or they’ll just go and sit, and my mom will make them their hot fudge sundaes she used to make when my dad would recruit them. They’ll sit and tell stories and send me notes and all that. That’s the good stuff. That’s the lasting stuff.

You’re bonded together through experiences with most of your guys through life. You really are. That is so rewarding in this game. There’s a lot of things that can be challenging, but those are the memories, and I think a lot of reason why many of the coaches do it and go through the things that we go through. So we’ve got great former players all the way from my first year here up until now. Can’t tell you how good they are. You guys know that. You’ve covered them.

Q. Tony, the way the offense has changed this year with the sets that you guys are using, have the new offensive sets kind of become the best sets for the offense? Is the new stuff kind of the future of the UVA offense?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, I think you look at your personnel every year, and you make adjustments, and a lot of the stuff was born out of either struggles you’ve had in years past or, again, personnel that you have and what spots they’re in. So you’re always challenging yourself as a coach. You have to keep improving. The game changes. You have to try — I mean, there’s certain things that are constants, but certainly those are things that I think have helped us, and we worked hard on some of the things that have been key for us this year through the summer, fall, during the year.

Like I said, a couple things we’ve brought back from previous teams because we have that kind of personnel that can use it. So it’s always evolving. Is it the future of UVA offense? Kind of depends on the personnel, but you’re always trying to move that needle.

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by May 15, 2019, and expected to retail for $25.
Pre-order for $20: click here.


The book, with additional reporting by Scott Ratcliffe and Zach Pereles, 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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