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An overture to illumination

When the players arrived at John Paul Jones Arena at 10 a.m. March 6 before the 1:30 tip-off of Virginia's regular season finale, they were informed that a season that could not have gone further south had indeed plummeted to a deeper, darker cellar: Second Team All-ACC selection Sylven Landesberg had been suspended for the rest of the season.

Not by Athletic Director Craig Littlepage, nor by University student-athlete watchdogs. It was coach Tony Bennett, citing Landesberg's failure to meet his own academic obligations.

Then, 39 minutes into a one-point game against then-No. 22 Maryland, Bennett flashed a sign of human nature heretofore unseen by the Virginia faithful: anger. Tearing off his jacket in disgust after a blocking foul called on senior forward Jerome Meyinsse, the first-year coach was called for a questionable technical foul that eliminated the possibility of a comeback. But his frustration demonstrated an itch to taste victory after a month of losing and, more importantly, that winning does not take a backseat to academics. For Bennett, the two go hand in hand.

And I don't think it's a coincidence that the Cavaliers played their three best games in more than a month without their undisputed star. It's one of the most overused and misguided clich


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