The Virginia men's basketball team is hoping for a fresh start in 2014 after ending 2013 with a blowout loss at Tennessee on Monday. The 35-point loss to the Volunteers was UVa's worst loss in three years. Since then, the 'Hoos have been focusing on their intensity as they get ready to play a Florida State team that boasts size and strength.
"We've tried to be very intense and we've talked about hunger a lot," Bennett says of practices following the loss to Tennessee. "I think sometimes you think it's going to be easy, you mistake yourself. And that's a lesson for everybody and for our young men. It's really tough to be good and competitive. You can't ever take for granted that hunger that you need in practice and then when you step on the floor to compete."
The Cavaliers have a tall task ahead of them in Tallahassee -- literally. The Seminoles play a pair of seven-footers and are one of the tallest teams in the country. With his team preparing to face that much size, Bennett says the 'Hoos will need to be scrappy if they want to open up conference play with a win.
"Any team that's that big, they're so good with their rebounding because of their size and they're so good at deflections and steals. You're going to have to really take care of the basketball, but you're going to have to rebound it, and that's going to take everybody."
UVa has never lost an ACC opener in the Tony Bennett era, but they also haven't won at Florida State since 2001. In their last ten games in Tallahassee, the 'Hoos are 0-10.
"As a player you can't allow yourself to get discouraged, you just keep coming after it. Hopefully we'll have some skin on our knees and some bruises to show for it, because it's going to take that against this team."