Coaching Resource: Nuggets from Virginia Men’s Basketball

Jeff White, Virginia Sports (

“Here’s what it comes down to: Can the defense outlast the offense?” Bennett told his players. “That’s who we are. You guys know that.”

The key for the players, the 6-8 Gill said, will be “holding ourselves accountable. The coaches can only tell us so much, and I think it’s up to us to bring everything together, dial it in, and bring the focus every day. We have the talent on the team, we have the experience on the team. We just need to go out there and execute, and it’s up to us to do it.”

Also critical, the 6-5 Brogdon said, will be “buying into the defense, taking it to another level than it even was last season, and being more mentally tough, having a stronger mindset going into the postseason.”

And that, of course, is where practice comes in.

“It’s like anything else,” Brogdon said of the Cavaliers’ trademark defensive prowess. “It takes repetition.”

Bennett said: “There’s a level of discipline and a mindset that needs to be re-established: established for the new guys and re-established for the other guys. And that’s just through hard work in practice, staying after guys, holding them accountable and drilling it.

“We have a saying, the defense never rests, and you can’t think, ‘OK, we got it. Now we don’t have to worry about it.’ You always have to sharpen that saw.”

“I’ve never been one to get too wrapped up in the expectations, or even worrying too much about having these goals,” said Bennett, whose record in six seasons at Virginia is 136-64, with three NCAA tourney appearances.

“It’s just: Can we improve each day? I wish I could tell you I’ve got this 10-point plan. It doesn’t work like that. If we want to reach what we aspire to, then we have to worry about improving each day and growing. I just keep talking to our guys about a growth mindset. And when you’re doing what you need to do each day, and you can kind of check the list off, ‘OK, I’m committed to working this way,’ all those things fall into place and they happen.”

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