WCAV-WVAW-WAHU | Charlottesville, Virginia | Sports

"Hungry" 'Hoos Have High Expectations


Prior to Tony Bennett's arrival at Virginia, the men's basketball program had only reached the 20-win mark twice this century.

But each of Bennett's last three UVa teams have hit 20 wins, with this year's group reaching the plateau with Monday's 61-53 win at John Paul Jones Arena.

"That's a huge milestone for us," UVa's leading scorer, junior guard Malcolm Brogdon, said following Monday's win. "But we've got to keep moving on. We can't be content right now."

"We have to continue to stay level-headed, and just focus on the next game," said sophomore guard Justin Anderson. "Coach used the analogy of putting two feet on each step, and we talked about steps to the end of the season. And I think this team is all-in, and we're sacrificing for one another. And it's beautiful basketball that we're playing."

That approach has served the Cavaliers well this season, especially since entering ACC play in January. UVa is now 11-1 in the conference, and Thursday will mark one month since the team's last loss.

UVa's current eight-game winning streak is the program's longest in ACC play since 1983, and has catapulted the Cavaliers back to national prominence. UVa is ranked No. 17 in this week's Associated Press poll, the program's highest ranking since January of 2012.

And UVa's players say expectations are even higher inside the locker room.

"I think we've been doing a great job of just sticking together. And just playing for each other," said Anderson. "I think we have a chance. We've been talking about it amongst ourselves all season, that we have a chance to be really good. And we're starting to chip into that."

"We feel like we've made a statement this season, for sure, in terms of turning the program around, and being a real contender for, you know, a Final Four appearance or a national championship appearance," said Brogdon. "We know we have a target on our back, and we've got stay humble and hungry and keep playing our ball."

Monday's win against Maryland ended a stretch of four games in eight days for the Cavaliers. They don't play again until Saturday's visit to Clemson -- a place where UVa last won in 2007.

"It just feels like we've just been going nonstop. Four games in eight days," said senior guard Joe Harris. "So it'll be a good break. A much-needed break, where guys can kind of just rest and recuperate."

"And then, we play at Clemson, which is always a tough spot," Harris added. "We've never won there. So it will be a tough test for us."


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