Jones Sees Similarities Between Current Cavs and '95 Team

By: Nate Sulham Email
By: Nate Sulham Email

When Virginia takes the court for its Sweet 16 matchup with Michigan State Friday night at Madison Square Garden, it'll be the first time the 'Hoos have been in the Round of 16 since 1995.

Jeff Jones knows a thing or two about that team -- because he was the head coach.

Jones' Cavaliers were the fourth seed in the Midwest Region and knocked off top seed Kansas, 67-58, in the Sweet 16 in the Jayhawks' own backyard of Kansas City.

Jones, whose son Jeff is a freshman walk-on for the current Cavaliers, sees a resemblance in the new edition of Wahoos to his '95 team.

"Those guys liked one another, they had great chemistry. It was just a good team and a fun team to coach," Jones explained. "What (the current team) has done is they've built the last couple years and they're having an excellent season this year. They have great chemistry. A really, really great group of young men."

Two players from that team -- Jason Williford and Mike Curtis -- are still with the 'Hoos but now in coaching capacities. Williford is an assistant to Tony Bennett and Curtis is the team's Strength and Conditioning coach.

That 1995 team saw its NCAA Tournament run end at the hands of National Runner-up Arkansas in the Midwest Regional Final.

Jones believes the 2014 Cavaliers are also in a similar situation to that '95 team in that both groups played with a chip on their shoulder.

Tony Bennett's team is considered an underdog to Michigan State, with Las Vegas oddsmakers making the Spartans a one-point favorite. Many analysts have also chosen State as their National Champion, including President Barack Obama.

It's a circumstance Jones can relate to.

"Our guys, I think got tired of hearing that we were some kind of underdog. We were a co-champion, there was a 4-way tie for the top spot in the ACC," Jones explained. "That was a confident team. It's not like we felt like we were doing something we shouldn't be doing. We expected to win."

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