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Virginia hires Bennett as new coach of men

Virginia’s search for a men’s basketball coach is finished.

A source close to the team confirmed yesterday multiple reports that Tony Bennett, the men’s basketball coach at Washington State last year, will coach the Cavaliers next season.

According to the reports, Bennett turned down offers from Marquette, Indiana and LSU before accepting the post in Charlottesville.

The 38-year-old Bennett served as the head coach for three seasons at Washington State, compiling a 69-33 record. Bennett guided the Cougars to 26 wins in each of his first two seasons as well as consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, making a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2008 before being bounced by top-seed North Carolina. The Cougars faltered this past season, going 17-16 and losing to St. Mary’s in the NIT.

Bennett took command of Washington State after serving as an assistant and associate coach for his father, former coach Dick Bennett. Tony Bennett immediately exceeded expectations; in his first season in 2006-07, the Cougars were picked to finish last in the Pac-10 before winning a program-best 26 games and finishing second in the conference at 13-5, as Bennett was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year.

Prior to coaching Washington State, Bennett served as an assistant at Wisconsin, also for his father; the Badgers retained Tony Bennett after his father retired. Tony Bennett then joined Washington State’s staff in 2003 when his father came out of retirement to take the head coaching job with the Cougars.

As a player, Bennett played for his father at Wisconsin-Green Bay before three years as a guard with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
Bennett replaces former Virginia coach Dave Leitao, who resigned March 16.

—compiled by Paul Montana


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