Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

Beloved coach led Virginia men’s basketball to historically great season

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Virginia Coach Tony Bennett received 50 of 65 votes in the AP Coach of the Year poll.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

After leading the 2017-2018 Virginia men’s basketball team from unranked in the preseason to the No. 1 team in the country at season’s end, Coach Tony Bennett further established himself among the NCAA coaching elite. His efforts were rewarded on Thursday when he was named the Associated Press men’s college basketball coach of the year, given to the top coach the NCAA each year. 

Though the Virginia men’s basketball team’s season ended in a bitter NCAA Tournament loss, Bennett orchestrated the most successful season since he came to Charlottesville in 2009, and one of the greatest seasons in Virginia basketball history. The Cavaliers finished with a 31-3 record, becoming the first team in the ACC to win 17 conference games en route to a regular season ACC title. In the ACC Tournament, the Cavaliers dispatched three tournament caliber teams in Louisville, Clemson and North Carolina to raise its second banner of the year. 

Bennett’s masterful management of a team without the high-caliber recruits that programs like Duke and North Carolina possess was a major storyline throughout the season. Factoring in that three players transferred before the season, Bennett delivered a banner year in a season many thought was lost before it even began. 

Bennett received 50 of 65 votes in the Coach of the Year poll, with Tennessee’s Rick Barnes gaining the second most with five.

Looking forward to next season, Bennett will look to put the tough season-ending loss to UMBC behind his team, while simultaneously using it as a motivator to finally get over the NCAA Tournament hump into the Final Four. 

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