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Exam break presents challenge

The Virginia men's basketball team returns Saturday after a nearly two-week absence. Exams occur at every school, but Virginia takes a longer break than other teams. When Tony Bennett coached at Washington State, his teams usually took one week. Virginia has played just one game in December.

It all changes on Saturday, when the Cavaliers begin three games in five days.

"There's challenges because you're not playing, and we have a heck of a team coming in here Saturday," Bennett said on Thursday, referencing UNC Wilmington. "The challenge is not having the match. It's an interesting schedule we have, because we had so many games in a short amount of time, and then a monster break like we had. It's necessary, when you're at a school like Virginia, with the finals and the length they put on it, that's just the way it goes."

Bennett still conducted practices during the exam period, although he was creative in the scheduling. He admitted players had their minds elsewhere on some days, but the team addressed areas it had not been able to address in the season's first month.

The schedule during the exam period included two hard practices, and then a day off. The pattern continued, so Virginia actually had three off days during a nine-day period, which is rare for college basketball. They had six practices during that span.

The time was of benefit to power forward Mike Scott, who had been out with an ankle injury. The team should be fresh going into the three-game stretch starting Saturday, and Bennett did not sound concerned about the pace of the upcoming schedule.

"Most importantly, it gives them the time to study hard and prepare for their exams," Bennett said. "But that long a break without a game, hopefully that time lets Mike Scott continue to improve and you hope to find the positives."

By Zach Berman  |  December 17, 2009; 2:47 PM ET
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