When Georgia Tech travels to Charlottesville, Va to takes on the No.2 Virginia Cavaliers (17-0, 5-0 ACC) on Thursday, the Jackets will not only be facing one of the top hoop programs in the country, but also the best young coach in the nation Tony Bennett.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Bennett has completely changed the culture of Virginia basketball and in doing so has begun to shift the balance of power in the ACC.
The ACC is loaded with coaching legends when you think about Mike Kryzewski, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino.
It is not like Leonard Hamilton, Jamie Dixon, Mark Gottfried, or Jim Larranaga are slouches by any stretch.
But in the last two seasons of ACC Basketball, no one has done the damage that Tony Bennett has done.
This is the ACC, the best basketball conference in country, and Bennett has taken it over rather quickly.
Bennett has been in Virginia for six seasons, building a record of 123-60 which is a 67.2% winning percentage.
Over Virginia’s last three seasons, Bennett has led “The Wahoos” to a record of 70-19, including winning the 2014 ACC Regular Season and Tournament Championships.
His teams have three characteristics that lend themselves to success on the basketball court.
Virginia plays outstanding defense, efficient offense, and they take care of the basketball.
This season the Cavs are No.2 nationally in points allowed at 50.6 points per game allowing opponents to shoot only 37.4% from the field.
Photo: Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports)
Offensively, Virginia does a great job of dictating the pace of the game to fit their offensive style. They are opportunistic with the fast-break and solid with their half-court execution.
That style has made them extremely efficient on the offensive end with the Cavs shooting 48.1% from the field and 39.4% from beyond-the-arc on the season.
The reason for the efficiency is because of how well they take care of the ball. “The Wahoos” only commit 9.1 turnovers per contest, which is the best in the ACC.
When basketball teams can consistently do three things well on a game to game basis, success is sure to come, and the Cavs are enjoying undefeated success.
In a report from wbdj7.com, Coach Bennett talked about how he is able to keep his undefeated Cavaliers mentally focused for the challenge of being an undefeated team with a target on their back:
“My challenge to them is you’re unbeaten, they know that, are you willing to be unbeaten for this game that’s in front of you. And that’s the thing, they should embrace the opportunity, and they’ve earned the fact that they’re in a good spot, but it’s what’s in front. Like I said, you have to respect the game, and the second you think you’re a little bit better than you are, usually you get a pretty good reminder.”
That one game at a time approach has worked to this point.
Being able to compartmentalize each game and each situation is the type of discipline that must be shown for a team to repeat as ACC Champions, as well as exceed what was accomplished in the previous year.
After seeing the Cavaliers take over the ACC Conference by storm over the last couple of seasons, you have to ask yourself if this success is sustainable?
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Are the Virginia Cavaliers here to stay, to rival the Duke’s and the North Carolina’s of the world, or is this just a really good stretch?
Time will tell, but for now, there is not a better team in the ACC than the Virginia Cavaliers. They are completely rolling over their competition!
With Tony Bennett at the helm, they have the right coach and philosophy to be an ACC power for a long time.