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Senior solidarity

Veterans aim to leave mark on program

Fifty losses and one postseason appearance in the prestigious College Basketball Invitational have not given the three seniors on the Virginia men's basketball team a whole lot to celebrate during their three years with the program.

Last season may have been particularly draining for Virginia's elder statesmen. At one point, the illusion of winning seemed so real that Athletic Director Craig Littlepage even addressed the fans prior to the Cavaliers' Feb. 6 game against Wake Forest and declared, "We're gonna win the regular season in the ACC." At the time, Virginia was tied for first in the ACC with a 5-2 record in conference play. Thereafter, the team lost nine straight games, five of which by 18 or more points.

To keep the losses from mentally wearing on his veterans, coach Tony Bennett said he is challenging forwards Mike Scott, Will Sherrill and guard Mustapha Farrakhan"to leave this program better than you found it."

That message already has resonated with Scott. Bennett told of Scott's speech following Virginia's scrimmage against Marquette.

"Nobody puts their head down," Scott said. "We learn from the tough times, and the good things, we keep building on."

The Cavaliers arguably began to embrace that attitude during last season's ACC Tournament. Former Cavalier Sylven Landesberg's 17.3 points per game may have seemed indispensable a year ago, but Virginia won its first game in more than a month without their leading scorer against Boston College during the first round of the tournament and limited eventual NCAA-champion Duke to just 57 points - its lowest total on the season -

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