ACC basketball Coach of the Year: Tony Bennett, Virginia
When in doubt, give ACC Coach of the Year to Tony Bennett. It’s become an almost punchline at this point because, even if the Virginia head man doesn’t win the award, he’s among the leading candidates to do so. That, of course, is not at all to say that Bennett isn’t deserving of the accolades because he unequivocally is.
Armed with a veteran roster that should also be able to take a step forward — particularly on offense — after suffering some turnover from the title-winning roster, Bennett and the Wahoos are poised to win the ACC basketball crown this season. Even if they don’t, Bennett should still be in consideration for Coach of the Year.
It’s not easy for a program such as Virginia that isn’t recruiting like Duke, North Carolina or other blue-bloods outside of the ACC to maintain any level of dominance. But Bennett has managed that in Charlottesville largely on the strength of his prowess as the coach. He consistently has one of the best defenses in the country and that leads his teams to win a ton of games.
The Cavaliers finished last year at 23-7, which is a fine mark. But they should be even better this year as, again, the offense should be a much more competent unit than it was as they relied on unproven commodities last season. Subsequently, Bennett will get the credit and the hardware for a noted improvement and likely guiding the best team in the conference.