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March 16, 2016

Tony Bennett

Raleigh, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We're now ready to begin Coach Bennett's press conference. He's just going to open it up for questions right away. Can we get a microphone right up font here.

Q. Tony, all of the senior guys have talked about how the non-basketball component kind of the game was important in their choosing Virginia, either a connection with you or the values to the program. How important was it for that class that you referred to as kind of the builders and foundation of what you've been growing to be of a like mind or have those shared values?
TONY BENNETT: I think it was essential. All of those guys, what they represented. When you're building a program, you're going to go through -- we've talked about this before -- a lot of adversity, a lot of hard times and even when you have success, they're still there and you have to handle different things, but you need the kind of guys that you can go through adversity with. We talked about that before. That you can lose with first before you win.

I'll never forget, I've said it before, my father at his press conference when he took the Washington State he said, first I have to recruit a group of young men I can lose with first before I win. It sounds strange but a lot of time when I watch players, watch them play, and I ask myself, can I lose with Malcolm Brogdon? I look up into the stands and see their parents and who's watching them and say, are these the kind of people I can lose with, that I can go through hard times with that they'll stick with it, and then they'll learn from that wisdom that they receive and apply it and eventually become successful. I think that's significant in eventually building a program. All of those guys have had their shares of ups but they've also had their downs. They just stayed true to that kind of commitment to what matters. That's the character-based model of what we're trying to get. As awkward as that sounds, can you go through adversity with them?

They value the whole experience. Virginia is a unique place in terms of academic expectations what is required, what we're trying to do in a league that's special, the ACC, and build it. We're excited about the opportunity to come and make Virginia relevant and try to be really good basketball-wise and set themselves up with education that will last.

I won't answer that long for all of the questions, I promise.

Q. Tony, two years ago, you guys came in here as a No. 1 seed. In what ways do you see the program being different and this particular team being maybe more equipped to handle everything that comes with that?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah. I'm not totally sure. One thing Mike Tobey was on my radio show a couple weeks back, and I asked him, what changed from your first year to last year? He said, well, our first year we're watching ESPN asking are we in? Are we out? Are we a bubble team? And this year, it's whether we're 1 seed or 2 seed. That kind of shows you where the program's come. This is the second time he's been in that.

There's no substitute for experience. I mentioned this before. Because we've lost some tough ones early. We haven't been able to live off of our success as we had in the past, kind of winning the conference and winning the conference tournament. We came up short in both. Had successful years. I think that's really taught us how close to the line it is. And I just think we're healthy right now, and the guys, we've played some tough games and certainly respect Hampton in knowing that you've got to be right in this thing to advance. And so I think our guys understand that.

They've had such good careers, they really have, and this is the last piece of it. No guarantees that they can, you know, want to do well and finish it off, because they've really built something special, regardless of how this plays out, it can't be taken away what they've established for Virginia basketball.

Q. Tony, do you have someone on your staff who handles statistical analysis? And how detailed are your scouting reports now? And how much has that changed since you first got in the business?
TONY BENNETT: It has changed a lot since I've gotten in the business. But, yeah, we do.

I look at quality. Like I'm more into -- I'm just a little more old school. We certainly rely on it. Everybody is using Synergy, everybody is looking at points per possession. How many times this team does this, this player goes to the low post, pick-and-rolls, pick-and-pops. You use all that stuff. I think we use video in creative ways. That's an important part of the game. I think we have a pretty good balance. I say I listen to it, I look at it, but I still like watching things and I'm more about, are we getting quality shots on offense? Are we making the opponent shoot contested shots whether they go in or not? And sometimes that doesn't add up on statistical categories. I look at that.

I don't know if that's what you're getting at but we definitely use it and a couple of our guys are really looking into a couple of video coordinators and things like that.

Q. So does one person provide the statistics, or --
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, a lot of our staff does. There's not one guy who is our statistic guy, we have a couple of statistics coordinator, recruiting coordinator working on stuff. There's so many different things you use but you look at them just to see if there's any tendency. We have other things that we stat that matter to us that wouldn't matter to other teams, and I look at and say, what's our percentages on these things that I value? And we kind of use those.

Q. I read a quote from your dad a couple years ago about the 2000 team that went to the Final Four that maybe he got a little too intense on them.
TONY BENNETT: No, not my dad. Intense? Come on.

Q. Is there anything you can take from in the NCAA Tournament and not put too much pressure on the guys?
TONY BENNETT: He got the to the Final Four, didn't he? I think he did okay being intense.

You have to be who you are I think you rely on your experience and got to be ready. I heard Bill Self, they interviewed him and what is needed for a team to make a run, he said, you have to be healthy. Your best players have to be well. Of course you have to be prepared you got to make some shots. He said, You have to play. You have to be freed up to play. You have to be ready and focused but you have to be freed up to play.

I just think there's a balance. You can overanalyze things but we know how quickly this thing can end and we know how good who we're playing is, you just battle it possession by possession with the right mindset. I don't think you change a whole lot from what you're doing through the season but our guys under the significance of things.

Q. Hey, Tony. I was wondering if you could comment on what you've seen of Hampton's transition game and in particular, Reggie Johnson.
TONY BENNETT: Terrific. You know, statistically speaking, they're averaging around almost 90 possessions a gamely; that's impressive. They get up and down the floor fast and even when you're back in set, they have shotmakers. They are older than us. Their top six players are seniors or transfers. One of our players played with Quinton at Tennessee, Darius Thompson.

Their perimeter guys are good. But Reggie is playing at a high level, because he can manufacture his own shot. He's real strong. You know, you look at him on tape, you see that, you see how physical he is. Gets his shot off quick, gets to the rim, pretty complete, but he's not the only one. Again, they like to get it up. They have play-making ability. You have to be back and make them earn. That's kind of what we try to do all the time against the guys in our league like him. He's got some special abilities and he's been through a lot.

Q. Tony, can you tell me, in what ways has Malcolm Brogdon improved and expanded his game for you, especially the last three years since his injury year, and how that maybe validates your program in that people look for gaudier stats?
TONY BENNETT: Well, anytime a guy gets injured and has to sit out, he talks about that, it made him appreciate the game. It's humbling and gives you a perspective that you don't take things for granted. From that standpoint it's significant. I heard Malcolm say that many times; he's lived that out. Rarely do you see a player of his ability in his last year, in his fifth year improve as much as he did. He already was a First-Team All-ACC player, efficient, good stats. But he's really gotten better this year with his movement without the ball. Off court his leadership I've seen on the court, but verbal leadership in practice. But guarding the ball, rebounding. Even if they don't show statistically, he's learned to let the game come more and be even more efficient. I didn't know he would be able to make that kind of jump in his game being as experienced as he was. So, I just think he understands, and knows what's going on, and he's developed.

He's a guy that works. He's really driven. I've coached a lot of guys. He's one of the top two or three I've ever seen that is driven to make his -- makes his game better in the offseason and during the season, what he works on, what he thinks about, how he approaches it. And that's impressive. And then you take into account what he's doing academically getting his masters in public policy and the things he's about there, that just adds to it. So I think that's the stuff that has impressed me about him. You're right, his progression every year, and especially this last year.

Q. Do you reference the Coastal Carolina game anymore or is that something that's so far behind this group that it doesn't have an impact on what is going on?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah. Look, we played Coastal Carolina, Belmont, now we play Hampton. You got to play. I think these teams can play, that's the experience. Just because we're a higher seed and they are a lower seed, throw that stuff out. All the seeding is, it's a reward for us having a really good season. Really good conference season, conference tournament finished in second, now it's about playing. The way college basketball is this year with the balance, we know it's there. We're going to have to play.

We talked about Hampton's ability and their veteran experience and the fact they won a game last year in the Tournament; this isn't new to them. It's about playing at a high level for the majority of possessions throughout the game.

Q. I just wanted to ask you to go back to when London first got there, and in those practices, or going into that first year, when did you realize that he could handle that as a freshman running this team? And then what it's been like since?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah. London, you know, when I saw him, recruited him, play in the summer with his AAU team, you saw something in him. His feel, his I.Q., he's a neck-up player as we like to say. But he was really good in practices. He injured his shoulder. We thought he was going to be done for the year. We thought he separated his shoulder. It was a really bad injury. Justin Anderson fell on him. Swelled up. He was out two, three weeks. I remember how it changed the dynamics of our team. We were laboring in the practices. It was before our first games, actually but we didn't look the same at all and it was him. He just stirred the pot. He made everything kind of work out. He got guys the ball. He understood it plus he shot the ball well. He had a decent knowledge of the defense, and then when he got back and got more experience, it took our team I think to another level.

Pretty early on he kind of had it, in terms of moxie and that feel that you want your point guard to have. I think this year he's taken a step and he's become more assertive, looking for his shot when it's there, and he understands what needs to be done.

THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? All right. Coach, thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.

TONY BENNETT: Thank you.

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