CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – “Rags to Riches” was the number one song in 1953. It was sung by Grammy Award winning singer Tony Bennett. The University of Virginia men’s basketball head coach Tony Bennett (no relation) was born 16 years later. The title of the song can be used to describe what Coach Bennett has done with the UVA’s men’s basketball program since he was hired in 2009.
Bennett picked up his 200th win as the Cavaliers coach Saturday afternoon in the Wahoos’ 59-58 win over Boston College. UVA (12-and-1) is ranked 9th nationally in the AP Top 25 and started their Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play on a high note with the victory.
The two-time National Coach of the Year is the third-fastest coach in UVA history (284 games) to get to this milestone. Only one game later than Terry Holland (283) for second. Henry Lannigan (259) is the fastest, when he coached from 1905-29.
Under Bennett, the Cavaliers have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons and made their first NCAA Elite Eight appearance since 1995 in 2016. Virginia has won 29 or more games in three of the last four seasons including a school-record tying 30 wins in 2014 and 2015.
Bennett is still fourth in program history for total wins, behind Holland (326), Lannigan (254), and Gus Tebell (241). If Bennett and the Hoos’ keep up the winning pace, he could be expected to move in front of Tebell some time late in the 2018-19 season, and Lannigan in the fall of 2019.
The UVA head coach now has 269 career wins including his three years at Washington State, and is currently sixth among all active ACC coaches. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (1,011), Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (912), North Carolina’s Roy Williams (410), Notre Dame’s Mike Brey (387), and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton (315) are rounding out the top five in the ACC.
By looking at what Bennett has done with this program, Wahoo fans can hope to throw the rags out and be patient for the riches.