Basketball is a family business
During his college career at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Tony Bennett was coached by his own father, Dick Bennett. The duo proved to be successful, boasting an 87-34 record when together.
Bennett is an NCAA record holder
Bennett’s 49.7 career 3-point field goal percentage is still an NCAA record to this day. This figure even tops famous three-point shooter Steph Curry’s career average of 43.8 percent.
Bennet played in the NBA...
Although Bennett is most known for his coaching, he played in the NBA. He was a point guard for the Charlotte Hornets from 1992-1995, playing over 150 games before a foot injury ended his NBA career in 1995.
... And in the NBL!
After his exit from the NBA, he went across the globe for two seasons in New Zealand, playing with Auckland’s North Harbour Vikings. After adapting to playing basketball upside down, he went on to post two successful seasons, becoming a two-time NBL All-Star Five honoree, an award bestowed to the top five players in the league.
The father-son bond continued in coaching
After deciding to return to the United States to pursue a coaching career, he chose to work under his father once again, this time as a team manager for Wisconsin-Green Bay. Bennett remained on the Wisconsin staff after his father retired. But his father must have been a good boss because when his father came out of retirement to coach at Washington State, Bennett followed suit.
In his first year as Head Coach, Bennett tied a 66-year record
After his father retired from Washington State in 2006, Bennett inherited the reins. Despite his lack of experience — he was just 37 at the time — he coached the team to a 26-win game in his first season, a feat which the team had not accomplished since World War II. The next season, he would do it again.
His wife is to thank for bringing him to Charlottesville
Facing budgetary constraints at Washington State, Bennett began to consider other coaching jobs, including an offer from the U.Va. As he was about to decline the job out of loyalty to Washington State, his wife told him to put the phone down, as she knew he was still uncertain. The rest is history.
Bennett’s first six seasons of coaching the Cavaliers saw continuous improvement.
Bennett inherited a 10-18 squad in 2009. In the next six seasons, he would go on to increase the team’s record each successive season, going from 10 to 30 wins in the blink of an eye. How impressive is this? Here’s a hint — of the four seasons in which the Virginia Cavaliers have won 30 games, Bennett coached three.
Besides being a great coach, he is a class act
After leading the Cavaliers to a U.Va. record-breaking season of 31 wins, the Cavaliers entered March Madness as the No. 1 seed. In a historic turn of events, the Cavaliers lost to the No. 16-seed UMBC Retrievers, the first time a No. 16 seed had advanced to the second round of the tournament. In the wake of this, however, Bennett received praise for his handling of the loss. Bennett took accountability, congratulated the other team and shook it off like a true professional.
In 2019, he will give the University its first March Madness Championship
I know what you’re thinking — how would some random Top 10 writer know this? Does he even know anything about basketball? To answer the second question — no. But the first question is easy — I have a gut feeling. In my heart. And that is enough to make this an official fact. We got this, Hoos. We got this.