Underrated Coaching Star in College Basketball


Most of us have heard the saying in sports that "Nice Guys Finish Last." The quote is attributed to long-time baseball manager Leo "the Lip" Durocher, the former manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and Chicago Cubs. 

I never liked that saying. I also disagree with it.

I know plenty of "nice guys" who have won championonships.  Tom Landry was a nice guy and he won a couple of Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Dungy is one of my all-time favorite coaches and he won  a Super Bowl in Indianapolis. The same for Chuck Noll who won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

One of the nicest men in baseball, the late Dick Howser, won a World Series in 1985 managing the Kansas City Royals. Charlie Manuel has won a World Series managing the Philadelphia Phillies. Sparky Anderson is a Hall of Fame manager and won three World Series in Cincinnati and Detroit. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi is a great guy. He has already won a World Series managing in New York.  After winning the series, he stopped in the middle of the night on his way home to help a motorist that had broken down in a dangerous location.

There is a college basketball coach who is also a nice guy. In fact, I call him the Tony Dungy of college basketball. He is a nice guy, but that does not mean he is a "soft" coach.  In fact, it is just the opposite. He coaches his teams to play with incredible resolve and an unselfish defensive toughness that you don’t find often today.

His name is Tony Bennett, the head coach at the University of Virginia. He is a former NBA player with the Charlotte Hornets and was a great college player at Wisconsin-Green Bay.  He is the son of former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett.

He did an incredible coaching job at Washington State. The Cougars were a traditional PAC 10 cellar dweller, yet he took them to a couple of NCAA Tournaments and had them in the Top 25.  

At Virginia, he has had to tear down the Cavaliers program and build it back up. He has done so with a quiet grace and humility. But, he has done it. He now has Virginia poised to play in the NCAA Tournament this spring.

Bennett’s team won an emotional game at Virginia Tech on Tuesday night. On Saturday afternoon, they host the talented UNC Tar Heels.

Tony Bennett is a great basketball coach. He is also a good guy. A great guy in fact. He is a man of no ego. He is also a man of strong Christian faith who sees coaching as a ministry and a way to impact lives.

Tony Bennett is a nice guy. With apologies to the late Leo Durocher, he also never seems to finish last. 

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