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March 5, 2012

Tony Bennett

COACH BENNETT:¬† We were fortunate to get a victory yesterday in a hard‑fought game, and you know, it gives us some much‑needed rest.¬† Now, as we talk about, it's act three of the season.¬† Act one is pre‑season non‑conference; act two is the conference, and now we are in the postseason.
The ability to find ways to improve, just get as much as you can out of your team, will be significant.  But thankful for where we are at and know how balanced this league is and how you've got to be ready every time out.  So that's where it's at.
And I think a statement was released regarding Assane Sene's status with the team, and you know, we are just going to move forward on that.  The statement kind of explains the deal.  And I won't comment much further on that issue.  So I'll take questions.

Q.¬† When I asked you a week or ten days ago, you were not willing to bite on it, but now that you do have the first‑round bye in Atlanta and given the depleted state of your roster, how thankful are you to not be playing Thursday?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, I think just as you said, the extra day is important; the rest, and to finish in that spot certainly is important.  So very thankful to again be in this spot.
You know, had it not been this case, you just get ready and you play.  But whatever you can get to this point in the year with a smaller team or an extra rotation, an extra day can make a difference.
And also to work on areas that you need to improve on, which there are certainly‑‑ even though we have been through a lot of games, there's still areas from a physical and mental standpoint that you can try to fine tune and get improvement on.

Q.  What do you consider your NCAA situation right now?  Do you feel comfortable, and what do you tell the team?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, you know, we really wanted to finish if we could in the spot we did in the conference, and we just want it keep playing good ball.  Always I'm hopeful but never assume anything for sure.

Q.¬† You talked yesterday after the game about how Joe was dealing with concussion symptoms in the days leading up to last night's game, and obviously played through this last night.¬† How was he feeling after the game and how is he feeling today?¬† Where does he stand in terms of what you guys are able to do practice‑wise and preparation‑wise this week leading up to the tournament?
COACH BENNETT:  We had a film session this morning and all that, but he seemed fine and he seemed okay after the game, too.  My hope is he'll be full strength as far as that goes.
I think his hand is continuing to improve, as well.¬† Seems like he has a little more dexterity with it, and he made a left‑handed layup in the game.¬† So hopefully that's improving and I would expect that he would be able to practice and compete in preparation for Friday's game.

Q.  With Assane, was there any possibility he might have been able to come back and physically play for you?
COACH BENNETT:¬† You know, hard to say.¬† I think there was a chance, but again that's out of the question with this.¬† But I can't say for sure.¬† It would have been‑‑ I think it would have been close.

Q.¬† Obviously Mike Scott got the all‑ACC honor today.¬† When you think of where your team might be without him this season, does it make you shake your head a little bit?
COACH BENNETT:  You broke up there.

Q.  Obviously Mike got some recognition today; when you think about where your team might be this year without him, does it make you shake your head a little bit?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, he's had a terrific year this year.  Certainly last year would have been great to have him, but right now, it's greater to have him this year.  And certainly proud of him and his improvement.
I've been asked a lot about him, but you know, you probably didn't see our game yesterday, but on the offensive end, he was terrific, and made play after play, as did Sammy.  That's why it was great for both of those seniors to finish their regular conference season that way.
But he's had one of those seasons that as a senior, you certainly hope to have heading into postseason play.

Q.  When you look back at him from when you first got to Charlottesville a couple years ago, did you see a lot of him back then, that he's that good, or has he improved a lot the last couple of years?
COACH BENNETT:  You see flashes.  I think he's improved.  I think even being out, he's improved mentally, physically, matured in his game and developed obviously a weapon with his shot and his moves.
But you saw more‑‑ you see flashes, but it was inconsistent.¬† And I think he's become so much more mature and consistent with the physical improvements in his game, and that's where ‑‑ I don't know if I would have said, boy his senior year he's going to have an exact year like this and maybe get consideration for ACC Player of the Year.
But that's a credit to Mike and how hard he's worked and developed.  Again, flashes were there, but not the consistency that he's shown throughout this season.

Q.  In reference to Malcolm, I know last night after the game, you said that you guys were maybe trying to look at some different things to get him ready.  Just wondering if there's any update on his status, and will he definitely be going with you to Atlanta this week?
COACH BENNETT:  Not yet.  Not an update yet.  When there is, I will let you know, and it could be soon.  Just we are at the spot where it's probably premature for me to comment on it.

Q.¬† It's interesting that the difference between fourth and fifth place was you won a one‑point game at NC State, and I know you're not looking ahead with them having a game to play Thursday night, but can you talk about how you matchup?¬† That was a month or so ago.¬† Just the problems they present and the problems you present to them.
COACH BENNETT:  You know, going back to that NC State game, I remember we had a good stand at the end of the game to get a stop.  I certainly recall them hurting us on the offensive glass.  They were men amongst boys to start the game; I remember that, just how they own the glass.
It was‑‑ you know, they are very talented and very good, and whether you play them or it's BC‑‑ I remember our game against BC was tight until we broke it open.¬† But you asked me about NC State and their talent level and their ability to score on transition and get on the glass and have play makers is certainly impressive.

Q.  Should you play North Carolina State, what do you think about your matchup with the Wolfpack this year?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, that's what I just talked about, that last question.  Again, they are very talented.  When we matched up against them, they hurt us on the glass.  They are guys that can make plays, and again, one of the more talented teams.
And Coach has done a really good job of dialing them in, because they are a complete team, certainly on the offensive end and again, Mark's got them playing high‑level basketball; if that's who we would face.¬† But we had to do everything we could to pull one out or sneak one out at NC State.

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