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Tony Bennett encouraged by Cavaliers' finishing kick

Throughout the course of the season, Virginia Coach Tony Bennett has recited expressions both to his players and to reporters that his father once recited to him when Bennett played for Dick Bennett at Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Tony Bennett used one in Wednesday's 59-47 win over North Carolina State. He was discouraged by the Cavaliers' defensive performance in the first half and wanted the team to respond after the break.

"When you whip a donkey, it kicks. When you kick a thoroughbred, it responds," Bennett said.

Guard Calvin Baker laughed when remembering the expression, although Virginia's players said Bennett's halftime demeanor was no laughing matter. Bennett is ordinarily mild mannered, but guard Sylven Landesberg said he could see the vein bulging in Bennett's neck while riding the team at halftime.

And with the way the Cavaliers played in the second half, they proved something to their coach.

"I'm not saying we're thoroughbreds by any means, but I'm just saying [the players] responded when they were challenged, and that was what we needed," Bennett said. "I told them I was proud of them for that. But just because we did it for a second half doesn't mean it's going to show up automatically. That's something you always have to understand as a defensive team."

By Zach Berman  |  February 5, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
 
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