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Men's Basketball: Bennett using deeper rotation than expected

Before the season, Virginia Coach Tony Bennett spoke about his experience coaching teams with short benches and those with deep benches. Bennett said he prefers an eight-man rotation, but that's not always possible. Bennett also has pointed out that Virginia's roster has much parity.

However, Bennett has not yet pared that rotation down -- and don't expect him to begin with the ACC season starting Saturday at North Carolina State.

Even without Jamil Tucker in the rotation or Tristan Spurlock, the Cavaliers continue to use 10 players: Sylven Landesberg, Sammy Zeglinski, Mike Scott, Assane Sene, Will Sherrill, Jeff Jones, Calvin Baker, Mustapha Farrakhan, Jerome Meyinsse and Jontel Evans. Although their minutes fluctuate, each is playing at least 12 minutes per game.

Bennett was recently watching an NBA game when commentator Mark Jackson quoted Pat Riley: "Have a nine-man rotation, play eight and trust five."

"I kind of laughed at that," Bennett said. "I think every coach tries to find a rotation. But every coach realizes, or I do at least, if you have not a lot of separation, you have to try different combinations and go with what works. Some games that might be a tighter rotation. Some games that's not working and you have to expand it a bit. That's where we're at right now. Doesn't mean we'll stay that way."

It's late in the season to alter the rotation, so I think you'll continue seeing Bennett use a deep bench. Sherrill is a player few expected to be part of the group before the season, and perhaps his minutes decrease if other players start to add some of the "little things" that Sherrill does. These include keeping keep possessions alive, setting good screens and grabbing offensive rebounds, although few others have shown a willingness or ability to do these.

Meyinsse's role increased when it appeared the Cavaliers lacked interior depth, and Bennett has found different roles for the Baker/Jones/Farrakhan logjam at in the back court.

"In some ways," Bennett said, "you can't fight it."

By Zach Berman  |  January 8, 2010; 11:14 AM ET
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