Tony Bennett discusses seniors
Saturday will be a different type of senior day for Virginia, considering Coach Tony Bennett has spent only one year with the three scholarship seniors. Former football coach Al Groh used to provide an interesting perspective about senior day, explaining how in many cases he's known and followed the players since they were 16 years old and they leave at age 22 or 23, accounting for almost a quarter of the players' lives.
Nonetheless, Virginia's seniors will be honored. And during a year that has not gone the way the seniors hoped, Bennett quickly discussed senior captains Solomon Tat, Calvin Baker and Jerome Meyinsse during a teleconference earlier this week:
On Tat: "Probably has seen the least amount of time, but he's a warrior. He's got the best attitude I've seen, really, seeing his situation, in all my years of coaching. He just is urging the team on, he's all about the right stuff. That's why I named him captain. I'm so glad I've gotten to experience being with a guy like Solo because of his work ethic, but also because of his attitude, and that's going to carry him far beyond [basketball]. Even in the hard times, he's been a voice of encouragement for our players, for our staff, and I respect that greatly."
On Baker: "Calvin's a battler, a competitor. He's kind of had an up-and-down season. I feel bad for him in his senior year to have to deal with the injuries he's had to deal with, the amount of surgeries and things like that. He's been through the wars, he certainly has. Having transferred, he was a walk-on who earned his scholarship the last couple of years.
"He's made some nice plays for us in certain games, and I know how much he desperately wants to play. He probably hasn't gotten as much of that as he's wanted, but that's all part of it. But he's been here a long time, and he's battled-tested, and like I said, he's helped us in some games, no question."
On Meyinsse: "There's a good example of a guy that has just paid his dues, has worked hard, and he's improved. He's a great role model off the court, on the court, great character kid. He's just gotten better and better, and he's become a bit of a presence for us inside. ...I couldn't be happier for Jerome, who, again, represents all the right things."
March 5, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
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