When Virginia and Butler meet in Saturday’s second round of the NCAA tournament at 7:10 p.m. in PNC Arena, it will be the first meeting between the two schools in basketball.
But UVa coach Tony Bennett has a vivid memory of playing against Butler in his days at Wisconsin-Green Bay, when he was the point guard for his head coach and father, Dick Bennett.
During Bennett’s senior year at Green Bay in January 1992, the Phoenix had a nonconference game at Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse, the arena that the movie “Hoosiers” made famous.
With the scored tied at 66, Bennett brought the ball down court, eschewed a timeout and launched a 3-pointer from way outside the arc to win the game.
“I think I surprised the guy guarding me,” said Bennett, who still holds the NCAA record for career accuracy at 49.7 percent. “I shot it from 25, 26 feet. I didn’t think he thought I was going to shoot it, and I made it with a couple seconds left. Again, it was exciting. It was our first game on ESPN. I remember looking at my dad and like, ‘You want me to call a timeout?’ He was, ‘Go ahead, son, let it go.’ It was a good memory for sure.
“The shot of my life? I don’t know. I’ve had a few game-winners, but that one probably stands out for sure, in college.”
Old school ties: Butler coach Chris Holtmann counts Dick Bennett among his mentors. Part of it is evidenced in what’s known as the “Butler Way,” a list of guidelines for the program.
“The Butler Way demands commitment, denies selfishness, accepts reality yet seeks improvement every day while putting the team above self,” reads the motto on the team’s website.
Holtmann said the philosophy evolved after then-Butler coach Barry Collier, now the school’s AD, met with Dick Bennett in the late 1990s to exchange ideas. Bennett had established the five biblical pillars of humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness for his own program, and Tony Bennett has adopted them at UVa.
“Barry’s quick to give Dick Bennett a lot of credit for that,” Holtmann said.
“Coach Bennett and the Bennett family, if you’re a coach you have a great respect for the way they do things, their brand and style of play, and their recipe for success. One of my favorite coach’s books of all time, kind of a “Season on the Brink” book, was Dick Bennett’s first couple of years at Wisconsin. … Unfortunately his son’s a pretty daggone good coach, too.”
Brice is nice: At some point in Saturday night’s second-round game between North Carolina and Providence, UNC center Brice Johnson will make a big play – maybe a game-defining play – and roar at the crowd in exultation.
Although he considers himself an old-school coach, UNC’s Roy Williams has learned to live with Johnson’s outbursts.
Williams recalled the advice he gave Jacque Vaughn, who was his point guard at Kansas and an Academic All-American.
“I told him don’t try to show that enthusiasm and make it appear you’re showing up some individual on the other team, because I never wanted it to be that,” Williams said. “And I don’t think Brice has ever done that. Brice is joy. It’s exhilaration. It’s passion.”
He added, “It’s who Brice is. I am old school. … But I live with it. It’s not a bad thing. I don’t think he’s trying to put anybody down. As long as he gets back on defense quickly enough, I don’t have a problem with it.”