Virginia coach Tony Bennett: Wake Forest outplayed us

tony bennettWake Forest played 39 great minutes. #11 Virginia stole a 72-71 road win on Tuesday with a good one.

“Wake Forest really outplayed us,” UVA coach Tony Bennett said, understandably understated, because really, it’s not like Tony Bennett goes around beating his chest after wins anyway, and why would he after this one?

The Cavs led for a grand total of 45 seconds, and couldn’t defend to save their lives.

Things got so bad that Bennett had his team go zone – egad! – for a stretch in the second half.

“It shows you how desperate we were, and how poor our defense was,” said Bennett, who felt the switch from the Pack-Line to zone “actually helped us,” though really the game turned on Virginia’s free-throw defense in the final 1:05, when the Deacons missed seven of 14 at the line.

Which is maybe why Bennett said he felt for Wake Forest coach Danny Manning, whose team was on its way to a double-digit victory when it completely and totally botched the endgame.

“To be in a situation where we have a lead for 35 minutes of a game and not come away with a win, it’s just tough,” said Manning, whose team led by as many as 14 and still led by 10 with 1:16 to go, and seven with the ball with 19 seconds left.

“A lot of people will look at the last play of the game, but to me, throughout the last five to six minutes of the game, we didn’t meet the basketball a couple of times, we didn’t square up strong with the basketball. We had some opportunities to go to the free throw line and knock some free throws down and we didn’t do that. They continued to battle and created some good fortune,” Manning said.

The battle was on the mind of Bennett, who had seen his team come up just short in furious late rallies at Virginia Tech (down 11 with two minutes left, lost by two) and at Georgia Tech (down 11 with 2:22 to go, lost by four).

“Credit to our guys. They showed fight in that setting,” Bennett said. “They were saying in the huddle, Let’s keep trying. You never know. Deep down inside, if I’m being honest, this is not happening.”

– Story by Chris Graham

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 June 10, 2019, and will retail for $25.
Pre-order for $20: click here.

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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