Wow. Nice win last night!
Undoubtedly, there will be an ebb and flow to the Cavaliers' performance in Bennett's first season, but the progress shown in just one week is somewhat startling. Better shooting, increasingly consistent defense, more assists than turnovers and not letting up on a big lead - all of those categories showed improvement from the home opener with Longwood last Friday. Not surprisingly, that led to a stronger effort against Rider, a team that knocked off Mississippi State on the road.
It's safe to say that no one saw the result coming....
The Broncs, meanwhile, expected to win the game after a 2-0 start that included an SEC road win.
"You look at it now and you realized that maybe your kids were a little tight tonight because I think we came down here expecting to win," Rider coach Tommy Dempsey said. "I think that's a good thing, but I also think we felt pressure to win the game as well. We were a lot more loose on Friday night at Mississippi State and then all of a sudden you win that game and you win the next and you're getting votes in the AP poll and everybody's talking about how good you are and then all of the sudden the pressure mounts and you lay an egg. Virginia made us pay for that."
I wish it had been televised, because I would've loved to watch this performance. I had to settle for the radio broadcast, but that was pretty sweet in it's own right.
I know a lot of casual Virginia fans will look at the score in the paper this morning (does anyone still read a newspaper?) and think, "It's Rider. Virginia should be beating up on the Riders of the world."
Well, yeah, I guess so. But Rider is no pushover this year, and I am thrilled with how well-coached Virginia appeared last night. The defense really put together a good night; we'd been seeing flashes of that in the earlier games, but they really sustained the effort last night.
I've been excited about UVa coaches before, only to be let down...but I'm on the Tony Bennett bandwagon right now. Mostly because, in the article linked above, Bennett is quoted as using the word, "nifty."