Cavaliers looking to continue decade of consistency

Tony Bennett is entering his 13th season with the Cavaliers.
Tony Bennett is entering his 13th season with the Cavaliers.(WVIR)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 10:23 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia men’s basketball team has finished with a winning record in conference play in each of the last ten seasons, and it’s by far the longest streak in program history.

Head coach Tony Bennett says the chance to build a consistent winner is one of the things that drew him to the program over a decade ago.

“I really like that,” says Bennett, “because it says we recruited well, we’ve had good staffs, and it’s been fun to build that, and I think it’s a great place to do it.”

UVA won the national championship for the first time in program history in 2019, but Bennett says the five ACC Regular Season Championships and two ACC Tournament titles might just be a better example of the program’s strength.

“Time and duration at a high level is important, as coaches,” says Bennett. “The NCAA Tournament is awesome, but there are so many factors that go into that, in terms of your match-ups, and health, and being hot. But when it’s over a conference season, that tests the longevity, and I think that’s a barometer for the consistency of the program. "

The Cavalier coaches will have their work cut out for them this season, as Virginia lost six of its top-eight scorers from last season, including their entire starting frontcourt.

Redshirt sophomore forward Kadin Shedrick, “Jay (Huff) and Sam (Hauser) brought incredible scoring, and I hope that I can at least halfway fill the shows that they did. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I don’t expect myself to be able to perform as well as they did their senior year, where I’m at right now.”

Shedrick played in 11 games last season.

Reece Beekman started 20 games as a true freshman, and he’ll be one of the more experienced players in the lineup.

“I would say I gained a lot of confidence, just being out there in my first year, not knowing what to expect,” says Beekman. “Just coming in, and getting the time that I did really helped me as a player, and as a person. You got to be ready for anything. I think this year it’s just more confidence for myself, and being a better leader for the team.”

Cavalier fans can get their first look at the team this weekend, for the Blue-White Scrimmage.

The Virginia women’s team will play at one o’clock on Sunday at JPJ, followed by the men at two o’clock.

Both scrimmages are free and open to the public, and masks are required inside John Paul Jones Arena.

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