March 31, 2014
University of Virginia men's basketball fans crowded into Wild Wing Cafe in Charlottesville Monday night for the final "Coach's Corner" of the season.
The weekly radio program, featuring coach Tony Bennett, is hosted by Dave Koehn and broadcast on the Virginia Sports Network.
This week, senior forward Akil Mitchell joined the duo for the show.
Despite a tough loss against Michigan State last Friday night in the Sweet 16, fans were ready to welcome Bennett and Michell home from New York City.
"I thought it would be a great end to my healing process after the end of the great stretch. I just wanted to see it all come to an end," said fan and UVa alum Chrystal King.
Bennett says UVa has the "best fans, without a doubt," whether the team is playing at JPJ or away.
"You walk out there and you hear the 'Go 'Hoos,' the 'UVA,'" he said. "That's how it is at home, but when you hear it on the road, that's impressive."
Mitchell says he, too, appreciates the continued encouragement.
"To really see them come out and support us after a tough loss, to see them behind us and coming out to things like this, it means a lot for us," said Mitchell.
But fans say they got just as much out of the games this year.
Fan Elizabeth Blake says the team means "everything" to her. She says she's sad to see Mitchell and other star senior, Joe Harris, leave after this season.
"We won't be able to replace them, that's for sure. What Joe Harris means and Akil Mitchell means to this team and this community -- you can't get any better guys than those two," said Blake.
But Mitchell says he's confident the team will see success without them.
"They're going to be good. I think they have a chance to be as good if not better than we were this year. They've got a lot of guys coming back, a lot of potential, [and] a lot of good recruits coming in," he said. "It's been a pleasure the last four years."
Though Mitchell and Harris are now finished with their college sports careers, they hope to continue playing basketball professionally. Both hope the next step is the NBA.