Dick Bennett talks 'gritty' Cavaliers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Dick Bennett doesn't always watch Virginia basketball games from the stands. But he was a few rows behind the UVA bench on Saturday night as his son's team beat Purdue in overtime to clinch a spot in this year's Final Four.

And Bennett was as stressed out as every other UVA fan watching that game.

"That seed of doubt is always there. Even in their first round game they had to overcome it," the elder Bennett said on the floor of the KFC Yum! Center in the aftermath of Saturday's 80-75 win. "So this was huge."

Saturday was the 10-year anniversary of the day news broke that Tony Bennett was leaving Washington State to take over the UVA program. The Cavaliers made six NCAA Tournament appearances in his first nine UVA seasons, including a run to the Elite Eight in 2016 and the Sweet 16 in 2014, and last year's infamous loss to No. 16 seed UMBC in the opening round.

On Saturday, the Wahoos got a buzzer beater from Mamadi Diakite to force overtime, and had to overcome a historic 42-point performance from Purdue's Carsen Edwards. With the victory, the Cavaliers clinched the third Final Four appearance in program history, and the first since 1984.

The win also meant that when UVA faces Auburn at 6:09 p.m. Saturday in Minneapolis, the Bennetts will join John Thompson and John Thompson III, who both coached at Georgetown, as the second father-son duo to lead teams to the Final Four. Tony was an assistant coach at Wisconsin in 2000, when his father was the head coach and the Badgers reached the Final Four -- and also beat Purdue in the Elite Eight to clinch a spot.

"This team is, they're just gritty. They're gritty. They're not overwhelming; they just hang tough," Dick Bennett said of the Wahoos. "And what more can you ask."



 
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