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Bennett must weigh present vs. future with lineup decisions

As excited as Virginia fans became when the Cavaliers jumped to a quick start in the ACC season, it never changed the fact that Tony Bennett was not hired to win this season. He was hired to build a program that, as he says, will last.

This is among the reasons why it became so surprising that Tristan Spurlock remained on the bench throughout the season. If he has a future in the program, one would think Bennett and the coaching staff would want to see what the promising freshman forward could do.

Bennett has tilted the other way, playing experienced seniors such as Jerome Meyinsse and Calvin Baker significant minutes. It’s a respectable decision, although it’s one made more for this season than next season.

However, Bennett started sophomore center Assane Sene on Saturday against Clemson. One of the reasons was that Bennett wanted to see what Sene could offer.

Virginia is 5-7 in the ACC. Its only hope at the NCAA tournament at this point appears to be an improbable run to the ACC tournament championship. Given where the current team resides in the standings, it makes sense to wonder whether Bennett will give his younger players more of a chance during these final two weeks to see what they have to offer.

“We’re still trying to win the games,” Bennett said. “You look at that, but we’re searching. Whether it’s year five or year one, we’re searching. We’re taking a look at different things. By no means am I like, ‘Wow, I’m not going to play this guy…', but I’m doing ‘you try, you try’, and that’s where we’re at.”

By Zach Berman  |  February 23, 2010; 10:22 AM ET
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