Struggling To Make an Impact This Season, What Can Tony Bennett Do To Change His Fortune?

Published 01/01/2024, 2:37 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

The Virginia Cavaliers have a 10-3 record and occupy the seventh spot in the ACC. They have lost three of their major games against the Wisconsin, the Memphis and the Notre Dame. And to their disappointment, they have lost all three matches by a remarkable margin. While against the Wisconsin they lost by a 65-41 tally, the Memphis defeated them by a 77-54 stat. Things didn’t seem to change much for them as they were upended by a 76-54 tally against the Notre Dame.

In these situations, it is necessary to contemplate their weaknesses. A more detailed run through their tactics will make evident what they lack this season and how can they cover for it.

What do the Cavaliers lack?

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Their star player Kadin Shedrick left them for the Texas Longhorns which affected their prowess negatively. While Shedrick only averaged a paltry 6.2 points per game during the NCAA 2022-23 season, he came into his own during the current season with the Longhorns.

He has managed a decent 11.3 points per game for his new team. Thus, Shedrick’s loss hurt the Cavaliers since the team would have seen a different result had he matured while with the Cavaliers. The improvement shown by the 6-foot-11-inch baller is just commendable.

Their head coach Tony Bennett will have to take things in his stride and learn a lot from the current lot of players. Bennett took an orthodox approach where he would scout for young players. He would evaluate their skills and help them develop over the course of time.

The results Shedrick has displayed are a result of Bennett’s coaching to a lot of extent. Bennett helped develop legendary athletes such as Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and Malcolm Brogdon. Bennett has been responsible for developing a lot of NBA players.

What about the legends?

While Guy averaged only 7.5 points per game during his freshman year with the Virginia Cavaliers, he showed exponential improvement during his junior year. Guy throttled a whopping 15.4 points per contest during his last year with the Cavaliers. The credit for transforming him goes to Bennett. However, Guy was not the only player to undergo such metamorphosis.

A similar case was demonstrated by the Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome. When Jerome entered the Cavaliers, he averaged a meager 4.3 points per game. But Bennett knew that he was a player for clutch moments. He developed him under his tutelage and the effect soon shadowed his performances on the court. In his junior year, Jerome showed signs of unbelievable growth. He now averaged 13.6 points per match.

This not only reflected on Jerome but also how Bennett had placed his bets on Jerome when the latter was a nobody in the college basketball circuit. And how when he was about to leave, Jerome was in the best form of his NCAA career.

Similarly, another guard Malcolm Brogdon had an identical trajectory. Brogdon went from besotting an average of 6.7 points per match to 18.2 points per outing. This was a result of Bennett identifying his talent and nurturing it. Brogdon’s dedication and Bennett’s eye for skill were responsible for taking the former to the zenith of achievements in the college basketball circuit. Alas, the same approach doesn’t work now. Bennett will have to take a different route.

What can Bennett do?

However, the same setting is not possible in the current NCAA tournament. During the current era, there are a lot more transfers, hence it is becoming increasingly difficult for Bennett to help athletes pave a successful NCAA career with the same team. 

USA Today via Reuters

Bennett cannot possibly offer high-raking NIL deals that attract athletes to his program. The only thing he can do right now is be better at recruitment and hire some exceptional talents. Thus, his strategy from whetting talent should change to hiring top-notch athletes. 

Another thing they can do is to get help for their guard Reece Beekman. Beekman has been entrusted with both offensive and defensive responsibilities.  Though Beekman leads in averages of points scored, assists, and steals, he still is not the kind of guy who could carry the load on his own. He has a remarkable 13.1 points per game with 5.5 assists per match and 2.2 steals per contest.

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These numbers are not the best in comparison to the alphas of the top 25 AP Polls team. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that Beekman has given his best. All he needs now is some assistance from his teammates. Beekman is a complementary player but not the lead guy. Bennett needs to figure it out as soon as possible and provide Beekman with a few options. 

One more thing that the Cavaliers could do is change their style of play. As of now, they are playing in a way that would be best suited for a team who has a NBA potential players in their roaster. The Cavaliers should introspect at the moment and come up with substantial changes in their style of play. Most of the long-term playing coaches have changed their style with time. They take it year on year and adapt to the situation.

Since college basketball is one of the most changing landscapes. It has an average time period of three to four years before the players change. And that too happens with only long-standing players. Most of the athletes change their college or declare for the NBA draft at the tip of the hat. 

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Thus, if Bennett wants to recover from his loss, he needs to either recruit different players or change his style of play. Or else retirement may be waiting for him on the way.

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Written by:

Ritvan Pande

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Edited by:

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