More on Tony Bennett
Monday, March 30 2009 by Tim
Now that I’ve had a moment for the “Who?!?” to subside, here’s a little info on Bennett.
He played at Wisconsin-Green Bay and was named the conference player of the year on two occasions. He also won the Naismith Award his senior year. He was a terrific three-point shooter (he’s young, can he suit up?) and still holds the NCAA record for 3-point percentage. He played in the NBA for the Charlotte Hornets for three years before being sidelined by an injury.
His coaching career started at Wisconsin where his father, Dick Bennett, was head coach (please, no Mike Groh jokes just yet). He stayed on Bo Ryan’s staff after his father’s retirement but then followed his father to Washington State (OK, maybe no you can make Mike Groh jokes). He became the head coach at Washington State in 2006 after his father retired. Again.
In three years as a head coach, Bennett compiled a 68-30 overall record and 32-21 in conference. His first two seasons he won 26 games each, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the Pac-10 respectively and making it to the NCAA 2nd round and Sweet Sixteen respectively. His first two years were the fourth best 2-year start by a head coach in NCAA history. The third year is what really hurt his numbers, as his team finished 16-13 overall with a losing 8-9 record in the Pac-10.
After the 2006-2007 season, Bennett was named national coach of the year by just about every major sporting outlet you can think of.
The turnaround from the ‘05-‘06 season to the ‘06-‘07 season tells me that this guy can do a little coaching. But at the same time, what does the drop off in ‘08-‘09 mean? That he can’t recruit? Well, if we look at recruiting, he was one of the big reasons that Wisconsin was able to bring in several of their best recruits, including an All-American (Alando Tucker), a Big Ten Player of the Year (Devin Harris) and several All-Big Ten Players (Kirk Penney and Brian Butch, for instance). So maybe he can recruit?
So… what do I think about this hire now?
Well, it doesn’t seem like a BAD hire. Let’s start with that. Bennett appears to be a decent coach. Everything I’m hearing is that he’s well-respected in the coaching world. That’s good. He seems to have very good X’s and O’s skills and at least decent recruiting skills. That’s good.
The problem is with the fan base. The fans wanted Al Groh gone. They got Mike Groh gone and an exciting but unproven (in the big leagues) coach as Offensive Coordinator instead. That wasn’t enough. The fans wanted Leitao gone. Now they have another unproven commodity as head coach.
This was simply NOT the splashy, big name that it seemed like the Virginia program was after. I’m dying to hear the reasoning behind this hire, not because I think its a bad hire in general, but because I think it’s a bad hire right now.
Bennett needs to come in here and start by hiring assistant coaches with proven recruiting backgrounds in Virginia and the ACC areas. Think Latrell Scott, but for basketball. Then he needs to keep Spurlock and Evans in the fold.
I’m looking forward to hearing more informed opinions about this hire than my own. Right now TheSabre and CavsCorner are going crazy with people announcing their intentions to withdraw their donations to VAF and cancel season tickets, etc. At some point, that garbage will slow down and we’ll get some real information. In the meantime, I feel sorry for Tony.
What are your thoughts on this hire?