Losing to BC sucks. Just like losing to South Carolina. These aren’t good teams.
But Tony Bennett’s Virginia basketball program is successful because of the marriage of culture and experience with talent. This year, they have far less talent in key roles AND limited experience AND newcomers who don’t have the culture in their DNA yet. Of course they’re going to struggle! You knew it before the season ever tipped off.
And don’t discount the fact that Virginia is getting everyone’s best shot. Did you see how excited BC was to beat Virginia? Virginia keeps getting called the “defending National Champs,” but they’re not actually defending their title. It’s a whole new team. So they carry that weight, but they don’t have the superstars that made that championship possible.
Finally, Virginia doesn’t have a star. There is no leader, no “give me the ball” scorer. Instead, they have a collection of talented role players with no one to build around. Last year, if things got tight, you could count on Jerome or Hunter or Guy to take the reins. But not this year.
Next year, Virginia loses Mamadi and Braxton, but gains Hauser (RS Senior with a year in the program), Shedrick (RS freshman with a year in the program) to go with Abdur-Rahim, Beekman, and McCorkle.
And this year’s newcomers, like Morsell, Caffaro, Woldetensae, McKoy, and Stattmann, will have another year of experience.
Next year Bennett will have the talent and experience, and all but three of them (Abdur-Rahim, Beekman, and McCorkle) will have had more than a year to steep in the culture.
And this year Virginia only has nine scholarship players available. Next year, it’s twelve. Among those twelve are several players, starting with Hauser, who can be the leader Virginia is missing.
Virginia will roar right back to the top of the ACC next year.
This year? They’re going to win some unexpected games, and lose some. And they’ll be better at the end of the season than they are now. Enjoy the ride!