Cavalier Corner

December 2016

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Page 19 of 59

BY ANDREW RAMSPACHER F OLLOWING ONE OF THE MOST deflating losses in Uni- versity of Virginia men's basket- ball history, Tony Bennett was asked what he told his Cavaliers. After all, there's no script for a coach who has to face his team shortly after their Final Four dreams are wiped away like the Wa- hoos' were against Syracuse on March 27, 2016. UVA led the Orange by 15 points with a little more than nine minutes remaining, only to lose by six at the final buzzer. Syra- cuse took the NCAA Midwest Region while Virginia's Final Four drought hit 32 years. Bennett soon entered a somber locker room. "Weeping may endure for the night," he told his players, "but joy comes in the morn- ing." The saying, part of an old church hymn, was a way to lift individual heads on a bunch that won 29 games and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in two decades. UVA didn't accomplish its main goal, but it did enough to look back at the 2015-16 season as a great one. Bennett, too, was keeping the program's window of opportunity open. Soon the "morning" was going to stand for a new season, another chance at triumph on a na- tional stage. The 2016-17 Cavaliers are going to look different than the most recent version. At- lantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon is gone, and so is two- time All-ACC player Anthony Gill. But Vir- ginia was still ranked in the preseason top 10 of both major polls. Why? It's debuting a talented batch of newcomers, including touted Memphis transfer Austin Nichols, and it returns a fourth-year point guard who still hasn't watched tape of what happened in Chicago last March. "It's just fuel, fuel to the fire," UVA fourth-year floor general London Perrantes said. "We were so close to making it to that Final Four, for us to lose it that way was tough for me. It still is. There's nothing we can do about it now other than let it fuel us and let it fuel the season. "I haven't forgotten about it at all. It's still there. It's a fresh wound for me, still." When Perrantes hit his sixth three-pointer against the Orange, Virginia took a 54-39 lead with 9:33 remaining. In the end, UNFINISHED BUSINESS With Last Year's Elite Eight Loss As Fuel, The Reloaded Cavaliers Are Ready For Another Run

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