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Virginia loves Tony Bennett: ‘We want to win it for him’

MINNEAPOLIS -- This year's Virginia Cavaliers entered unchartered territory.

With the exception of Head Coach Tony Bennett and assistant coach Brad Soderberg, noone on this year's team has prepared to play in a Final Four.

"Personally it's very rewarding," UVA Associate Head Coach and former John Marshall standout Jason Williford said. "But we don't want to stop.  We got to more to get."

The Cavaliers are back in the Final Four for the first time since 1984.

A lot has changed since that last appearance.

One is the success Coach Bennett brought to Charlottesville after he arrived 2009.

"We want to win it for him as much as we want to win it for us," UVA guard Kyle Guy said.  "He's been our father figure for three years, four years, five years, however long we've been here.  He's meant so much to this program."

UVA has won four ACC regular season titles since 2014, two conference tournament titles in 2014 and 2018.

The team has made the NCAA Tournament seven straight years, culminating in their first Final Four trip in 35 years.  But what made this team stronger was being the first #1 seed that lost to a #16 seed in UMBC last year.

"That situation made me take a look at a lot of things," Bennett admitted. "There's no way I would have gotten this close to my team in that way. It drew me closer to my family and my faith."

"To Tony's credit, after that painful loss, he reevaluated a lot of things," UVA Assistant Coach Brad Soderberg mentioned. "How we can defend better, how we can score better, how we can recruit better, what are we missing."

Watch UVA play Auburn in the Final Four on CBS 6 Saturday night at 6pm.

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