Tony Bennett (basketball)

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Tony Bennett
Bennett copy.jpg
Bennett at the Barclays Center
Sport(s) Basketball
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Virginia
Record 136–64 (.680)
Annual salary $2.1 million[1]
Biographical details
Born (1969-06-01) June 1, 1969 (age 46)
Clintonville, Wisconsin[2]
Alma mater Wisconsin–Green Bay
Playing career
1988–1992 Wisconsin-Green Bay
1992–1995 Charlotte Hornets
1997 Sydney Kings
Position(s) Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1999–2003 Wisconsin (asst.)
2003–2004 Washington State (asst.)
2004–2006 Washington State (assoc.)
2006–2009 Washington State
2009–present Virginia
2013 USA U-19 national team (asst.)
Head coaching record
Overall 205–97 (.679)
Tournaments NCAA: 6–5 (.545)
NIT: 2–2 (.500)
Accomplishments and honors
FIBA Under-19 World Championship (2013)
2 ACC Regular Season Championships (2014, 2015)
ACC Tournament Championship (2014)
2 Academic All-American (1991, 1992)
Men's Basketball Academic All-America Team Member of the Year (1991)
Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (1992)
Naismith College Coach of the Year (2007)
2 Henry Iba Award (2007, 2015)
AP Men's Basketball Coach of the Year (2007) National Coach of the Year (2007)
2 ACC Coach of the Year (2014, 2015)
USBWA District 3 Coach of the Year (2015)

Tied single-season win records at Washington State and Virginia
Only active coach to defeat all five active Hall of Fame coaches
Only non-Tobacco Road coach to win consecutive outright ACC regular season titles.

Only coach in ACC history to win 16 or more conference games in back-to-back seasons.

Anthony Guy "Tony" Bennett (born June 1, 1969) is the head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team since March 31, 2009. He is a two-time winner of the Henry Iba Award for the best men's coach in college basketball, as voted by the United States Basketball Writers Association, and is currently the two-time defending ACC Coach of the Year.

Bennett shares the school records for single-season wins at both Washington State (26, in both 2006–07 and 2007–08) and Virginia (30, in both 2013–14 and 2014–15). In doing so, Bennett's teams tied records that had been in place since 1941 at Washington State and since 1982 at Virginia. Percentage-wise, Bennett is also Virginia's all-time winningest coach in ACC conference play and he holds the same distinction at Washington State from his short stint in the Pac-10. He won six major coaching awards in 2007, breaking the conference record of five set by legend John Wooden at UCLA in 1972.[3] Bennett is the first coach to have defeated all five active Naismith Hall of Fame coaches (Jim Boeheim, Larry Brown, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, and Roy Williams).[4] In March 2015, Bennett became the only coach since the ACC was founded in 1953 to lead a team from outside North Carolina to consecutive outright ACC regular season titles. Including shared titles, he is only the second after Terry Holland, also at Virginia, in 1983.

Bennett played collegiately for the Green Bay Phoenix and professionally for the NBA's Charlotte Hornets. He won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award in 1992 as the nation's top player standing under six feet tall, and was also honored as the national Academic All-American of the Year.[5] Well known in his playing days as a three-point sharpshooter, Bennett ranks #1 all-time in NCAA Division I history for career three-point field goal accuracy, at 49.7%, peaking at 53.3% in 1990-91.[5][6] By the NCAA standard minimum of 200 made and a minimum of 2.0 made per game, Bennett holds the all-time record by nearly three percentage points.[6] He left Green Bay as the Mid-Continent Conference's all-time leader in both points and assists.[5]

The best known member of a talented coaching family tree, he is the son of former Green Bay and Wisconsin Badgers coach Dick Bennett and brother of current Northern Illinois women's basketball head coach Kathi Bennett. The frustrating "pack line" defense that the younger Bennett has perfected at Virginia was first implemented by his father at Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Washington State.[7] In 2015, Bennett became just the third coach in history to lead an ACC team to consecutive 30-win seasons, after Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams.[8]


Playing career[edit]


Bennett's retired #25 hangs in the rafters of the Resch Center, the home court of the Green Bay Phoenix

Bennett, a point guard, played for his father Dick Bennett at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (UWGB) following his high school career at Stevens Point Area Senior High and Preble High School. While there, the Bennetts led the Phoenix to an NCAA Tournament berth and two appearances in the NIT. During his time there, the Phoenix had a record of 87–34 (.719) en route to Bennett being named conference player of the year twice. He won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award given to the nation's most outstanding senior under six feet tall and was named the 1992 GTE Academic All-American of the year. He also started for a bronze-medal winning 1991 Pan-American Games team led by Gene Keady. He finished his collegiate career as the Mid-Continent Conference's all-time leader in points (2,285) and assists (601). He still ranks as the NCAA's all-time leader in 3-point field goal accuracy, at 49.7%.[6]


Bennett went on to be picked 35th overall in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He spent three seasons (19921995) with the Hornets before a foot injury abruptly ended his NBA career. He briefly attempted a comeback and played 10 games for the Sydney Kings in Australia's National Basketball League season in 1997.[9]

Coaching career[edit]

New Zealand and Wisconsin[edit]

He discovered his knack for coaching as a player-coach and Christian missionary in New Zealand.[10] His time there taught him he was able to coach without the anxiety he had seen his father experience coaching back in Wisconsin, and convinced him that he could undertake the stressful life of a coach while maintaining his integrity and peace of mind.[10]

Bennett returned to Wisconsin to join the University of Wisconsin staff under his father. After the elder Bennett retired, Bo Ryan retained Bennett on his staff. Bennett remained with the Badgers until 2003, when his father came out of retirement to coach Washington State.

Washington State[edit]

Bennett coaching Washington State

In 2004, Bennett was designated as his father's successor, being named from an assistant coach to an associate head coach,[11] and he inherited the position of head coach at Washington State University when his father retired after the 2005–06 NCAA season.

His 26 wins in both the 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons each tied the Washington State school record set by the 1940–41 team[12] that lost in the championship game of that year's NCAA tournament.

2006–07: school record 26 wins[edit]

Bennett led the 2006–07 Cougars basketball team to a 26–8 (13–5 Pac-10, second place) record and the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Cougars earned a #3 seed and defeated Oral Roberts in the opening round before falling to Vanderbilt in double overtime in the second round.[13] Bennett tied the WSU school record for wins. The NCAA tournament appearance was the first for the Cougars since 1994.

After the 2006–07 season, Bennett was named the AP college basketball Coach of the Year[14] and the Naismith College Coach of the Year. He also won the Henry Iba Award by vote of the United States Basketball Writers Association, and was named the Coach of the Year.[15]

2007–08: tying the record[edit]

During the 2007–08 season, Bennett finished with a 26–9 record (11–7 in the Pac-10). He also went on to lead the Cougars to the Sweet Sixteen after beating Winthrop in the first round and Notre Dame in the second.[16] After losing to North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen, Bennett's team had tied the school record for wins, with 26, for the second consecutive season.


Bennett was named head coach at Virginia on March 31, 2009.[17] His team began coming together later the same day, as Ritchie McKay, then head coach of the Liberty Flames, stepped down from his position to become Bennett's associate head coach.[18] In 2009–10 the Cavaliers got off to a 5–2 start in Atlantic Coast Conference play, and 14–6 overall, but dropped their next 9 conference games and finished the season 15–16 (5–11 in the ACC).[19] Despite much of his first recruiting class decimated by transfers,[20][21] in 2011–12 Bennett led the Cavaliers to a 22–10 record and Virginia's first NCAA tournament berth in five seasons. They lost in the Round of 64 to Florida.[22] In 2013, Bennett became an assistant on the U-19 Basketball team which won the gold medal at the World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. Virginia center Mike Tobey was a member of this team.[23]

During the rebuilding process, Bennett's teams won more games in every successive season of his five seasons at Virginia. After inheriting a 10–18 squad from his predecessor, Virginia won 15, 16, 22, 23, and 30 games in his first five seasons. They also improved their ACC record in each of these years, earning records of 5–11, 7–9, 9–7, 11–5, and finally an ACC-best 16–2. In 2014, Bennett became the first ACC coach to win 16 conference games in a single season since Mike Krzyzewski at Duke in 1999. In 2015, Bennett became the first coach ever to win 16 conference games in consecutive seasons.

2013–14: ACC Regular Season and Tournament Championship[edit]

In 2013–14, Bennett led the Cavaliers to only their second-ever outright ACC regular season title (fifth overall including shares), clinching it with a statement 75–56 home win against highly touted ACC newcomer #4 Syracuse, a team which had started the season 25–0. Virginia also won its second-ever ACC Tournament title (the first since 1976), defeating second-seeded #7 Duke in the final game, 72–63. The Cavaliers received their third (but first since 1983) #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1995. Bennett was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year,[24] as well as runner-up for AP Coach of the Year.[25]

On June 3, 2014, Bennett signed a new seven-year contract to extend his employment with Virginia through at least 2021. It includes a $1.924 million base salary package, with additional longevity and achievement bonuses.[26] Part of his contract negotiations included long-term contract renewals for his staff.[27]

2014–15: repeat ACC title[edit]

In the 2014–15 season, Virginia was ranked ninth in the country by the Associated Press in the pre-season, and got off to a 19–0 start, reaching as high as #2 nationally for the first time since 1982–83, behind similarly-undefeated Kentucky. The record included road wins at several ranked opponents' home courts, including at Maryland, at VCU, at Notre Dame, and at North Carolina. Much was made in the press that out of the top three teams throughout much of December and January (Kentucky, Virginia, and Duke), the Cavaliers had zero McDonald's All-Americans, whereas the Wildcats and Blue Devils had nine each.[28][29] Other highlights included holding Rutgers, Harvard, and Georgia Tech to under thirty points each, and "doubling up" (scoring twice the points of) both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest; the only other ACC team to accomplish that even once was Duke in 1955.[30] The Harvard game was also notable for Virginia's limiting the Crimson (an NCAA Tournament team) to a single field goal in the first half, tying an NCAA record for the shot clock era.[31]

After being defeated on a late flurry of three-point shots by Duke, the team rebounded with the aforementioned win at North Carolina, followed by a home win over Louisville in a new official rivalry game. That victory over Rick Pitino's Cardinals made Bennett the first to defeat all five Naismith Hall of Fame coaches active at that time.[4] They extended this streak to nine games, leading to their best start in program history, surpassing the 27–1 start of the 1982 Cavaliers. The team would finish 30–4 with a second straight NCAA Tournament loss to the Michigan State Spartans coached by Tom Izzo after star player Justin Anderson's continued struggles since fracturing a finger on his shooting hand against Louisville. After leading the Cavaliers in scoring through Virginia's first 21 games, he would score just 2 against Louisville in that game and in double-digits only once after the injury.[32]

On July 7, 2015, The Roanoke Times reported that on May 1, Bennett had signed a new contract with annual pay of $2.1 million, with a $3 million buyout provision until March 2018.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Bennett is married and has two children, one son and one daughter. Bennett met his wife at a church in North Carolina, while he was playing for the Charlotte Hornets.[33] He is also a Christian, and has spoken about his faith saying, "When you have a relationship with the Lord, there’s a peace and perspective you have. The world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away."[34] Bennett also has cited his faith as impacting his coaching philosophy, in particular his use of his father's "Five Pillars": humility, passion, unity, servanthood, and thankfulness.[33]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Washington State Cougars[35] (Pacific-10 Conference) (2006–2009)
2006–07 Washington State 26–8 13–5 2nd NCAA Second Round
2007–08 Washington State 26–9 11–7 3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2008–09 Washington State 17–16 8–10 7th NIT First Round
Washington State: 69–33 (.676) 32–22 (.593)
Virginia Cavaliers[36] (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2009–present)
2009–10 Virginia 15–16 5–11 T–9th
2010–11 Virginia 16–15 7–9 T–7th
2011–12 Virginia 22–10 9–7 T–4th NCAA Second Round
2012–13 Virginia 23–12 11–7 T–4th NIT Quarterfinals
2013–14 Virginia 30–7 16–2 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2014–15 Virginia 30–4 16–2 1st NCAA Third Round
2015–16 Virginia
Virginia: 136–64 (.680) 64–37 (.634)
Total: 205–97 (.679)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ a b Doughty, Doug (July 7, 2015). "New contract loaded with incentives for UVa basketball coach Tony Bennett to stick around". The Roanoke Times. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Game 14 vs. NC State, Charlottesville, Va. (John Paul Jones Arena)" (PDF). p. 2. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Tony Bennett tabbed for six major coaching honors, accessed February 5, 2015
  4. ^ a b "Postgame Notes - #3 Virginia 52, #9 Louisville 47". 7 February 2015. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c [1], accessed February 5, 2015]
  6. ^ a b c 2013-14 NCAA Men's Basketball Records - Division I, p.2 – Individual Records
  7. ^ [2], accessed February 5, 2015]
  8. ^ Mentioned by Jim Nance during the TruTV broadcast of the Virginia-Belmont Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game
  9. ^ Kings emerge from a pack of jokers -, Retrieved March 26, 2012
  10. ^ a b Coaching was a Path Virginia's Bennett Once Resisted, accessed February 8, 2015
  11. ^ Family Afffair: Bennett to hand job to son - Men's College Basketball - ESPN
  12. ^ Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Washington State Cougars - NCAA Tournament Game - Recap - March 22, 2008 - ESPN
  13. ^ Washington State Cougars Basketball 2006-07 Schedule - Cougars Home and Away - ESPN
  14. ^ Washington State's Bennett second rookie AP Coach of the Year - NCAA Division I Mens Basketball - News, Scores, Stats, Schedule and RPI Rankings
  15. ^ College Basketball - Coach of the Year: Tony Bennett
  16. ^ Washington State Cougars Basketball 2007-08 Schedule - Cougars Home and Away - ESPN
  17. ^ Washington State coach Bennett headed to Virginia - ESPN
  18. ^ McKay's departure stuns LU | The News & Advance
  19. ^ Virginia Cavaliers Schedule - 2009-10, accessed November 10, 2012
  20. ^ Tony Bennett not sweating transfers - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
  21. ^ Virginia Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett says freshman James Johnson will transfer - ESPN
  22. ^ "Florida pulls away in second half to blow past Virginia". March 16, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Tony Bennett". Retrieved February 8, 2015. 
  24. ^ Coleman, Scott (20 March 2014). "Naismith Coach of the Year finalists announced". SB Nation. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  25. ^ Hudtloff, Marty (23 April 2014). "Tony Bennett Runner-Up for AP Coach of the Year Award". WVIR. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Tony Bennett Receives New 7-Year Contract". 3 June 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  27. ^ Goldberg, Rob (3 June 2014). "Tony Bennett Signs 7-Year Contract with Virginia Cavaliers". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  28. ^ Parrish, Gary (December 30, 2014). "Virginia's Bennett has Built a Contender in an Unconventional Way". CBS Sports. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  29. ^ Bozich, Rick (January 27, 2015). "Five Reasons #2 Virginia is not #1 Kentucky". WDRB. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  30. ^ Chase, Chris (March 3, 2015). "Why UVA basketball is so impressive (and NOT boring)". Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  31. ^ Reid, Whitey (22 December 2014). "No. 6 Virginia hammers Harvard in historic fashion". The Daily Progress. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  32. ^ Justin Anderson Stats at ESPN, accessed April 5, 2015
  33. ^ a b Teel, David (March 20, 2015). "Humility, faith at core of Tony Bennett the man and coach". Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Coach's Profile: Tony Bennett". 
  35. ^ "2011-12 Washington State Cougars men's basketball media guide, page 60" (PDF). Washington State Athletics. 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  36. ^ "2012–13 Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball media guide, page 43" (PDF). Virginia Athletics. 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 

External links[edit]