Bennett is my middle name

It's a great month to be a Virginia Basketball fan

January has been a good month for Virginia basketball fans. While some might fixate on obvious achievements — Mike Scott’s blossoming NBA career, blow-outs against seven of our first eight ACC opponents and the label of best team in the country in January according to ESPN’s BPI ranking — there have also been subtler developments.

The first of these is finally overcoming the infamous Cane’s Challenge. During the first few months of the basketball season, this promotion was directly responsible for some of Virginia’s woes. The challenge promises a buy-one-get-one-free deal if the team scored a certain number of three-pointers.

But the promotion, which seemed like a brilliant pairing in the preseason — delicious fried chicken and three-pointers — turned into a curse for the basketball team when its hungry fans and players risked long shots rather than playing it safe.

When our home game against Carolina rolled around, I had a strong sense of apprehension as the Cane’s Challenge flashed on the scoreboard. My fears were soon assuaged, however, as Joe Harris confidently drained three consecutive threes and Evan Nolte iced it with one of his own before the second TV timeout.

The defeat of our long-time nemesis made the next day’s Cane’s sauce all the sweeter. While there are a number of advanced statistical measurements of a team’s ability — all of which identify Virginia as an elite squad — there is no truer barometer than our recent victory against the Cane’s Challenge.

The next significant event in this lucky basketball streak was my own long-awaited entry into the first ticket group. Not until this point had my prolific basketball fandom been recognized in the exclusive realm of ticket priority. At last year’s Duke game, I had to watch from the depths of group three as the earlier groups snatched up most of the good seats. It was humiliating to be treated like a third-class sports fan.

Because of my recent promotion, however, I now enjoy the privileges of the basketball elite. There is truly no better feeling in the world then walking up to a long line of students who are standing behind a sign clearly marked with the number three and asking, “Is this the line for group one?”

I have earned the right to look down upon my fellow attendees, and I would be lying if I denied my self-satisfaction as I sit down behind the team bench an hour-and-a-half before the game begins.

My middle name has given me an innate predisposition toward Tony Bennett and his rebuilding efforts, and as basketball begins to show signs of brilliance, it is important to shed the pessimistic mindset of a Virginia sports fan. A lucky bounce on the road gave us a perfect January and another opportunity to assault the fragile Coach K, and despite some hard games coming up, I have faith that our resurgent basketball team may have its best days ahead.

Christian’s column runs biweekly Fridays. He can be reached at

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