Two-time National Coach of the Year Tony Bennett enters his seventh year as the men's head basketball coach at the University of Virginia. Bennett came to Charlottesville after spending the previous three seasons as the head coach at Washington State where he was the 2007 National Coach of the Year.
Virginia has amassed a 136-64 (.680) record in six seasons under Bennett's direction. In 2014-15, the Cavaliers continued a two-year run of success that has produced back-to-back outright ACC regular-season titles, the 2014 ACC Tournament title and a No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press poll, marking Virginia's highest ranking since 1982-83. Virginia has tied the school record with 30 wins in each of the last two seasons and the Cavaliers made their first
NCAA Sweet 16 appearance since 1995 in 2013-14.
Bennett has been honored as the ACC Coach of the Year by both the media and his peers in each of the past two seasons as the Cavaliers became the first ACC school to win 16 conference games in consecutive years. In 2014-15, Bennett was honored as the U.S. Basketball Writers Association National Coach of the Year. He was also named USBWA District 3 Coach of the Year for the third time in six seasons in Charlottesville, and the fourth district honor in his nine years as a head coach.
With a career record of 204-96, Bennett became the 15th coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 200 career-win mark in fewer than nine seasons on Feb. 22, 2015 as the Cavaliers downed Florida State, 51-41. He is the only current Division I coach to have defeated all five of the active Hall of Fame coaches (Jim Boeheim, Larry Brown, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino and Roy Williams) during his career.
Virginia has reached the postseason in each of the past four seasons, including back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2014 and 2015. In 2012-13, the Cavaliers advanced to the NIT quarterfinals. In 2011-12, Bennett led Virginia to a 22-10 record and its first NCAA Tournament berth in five seasons. The 2012 USBWA District 3 Coach of the Year, Bennett guided the Cavaliers to their first winning season in the ACC (9-7) since 2006-07 and their most regular-season wins (22) since 1982-83.
Bennett's second Virginia team in 2010-11 compiled a 16-15 record (7-9 in ACC regular-season games). It was UVa's first winning season since 2007-08 as Virginia finished tied for seventh in the ACC regular-season standings after being picked to finish 11th in the preseason by the media. Bennett won his 100th game as a head coach during the 2010-11 season when the Cavaliers defeated Maryland 74-60 in College Park, Md. Bennett's first Virginia team finished the 2009-10 season with an overall record of 15-16, an improvement of five wins over the previous season (10-18 in 2008-09). The 15 wins included three victories over nationally-ranked opponents.
A hallmark of Bennett's teams has been defense, as his squads have ranked in the top five nationally in scoring defense in six of his nine seasons as a head coach. The 2014-15 Cavaliers led the nation by allowing 51.5 points per game, marking the third time a Bennett-coached team led the nation in scoring defense. The Cavaliers also became the first school in 18 years to hold three opponents under 30 points in a game in 2014-15.
Three Virginia players - Mike Scott (Atlanta, 2012), Joe Harris (Cleveland, 2014) and Justin Anderson (Dallas, 2015) - have been selected in the NBA Draft during Bennett's six-year tenure. Anderson became the first Virginia player selected in the first round (21st overall) since Cory Alexander in 1995.
Bennett was introduced as the head coach of the Virginia men's basketball program on April 1, 2009.
In three seasons at Washington State, Bennett led the Cougars to a 69-33 record, including a 32-22 mark in the Pac-10. Washington State's 69 wins over those three seasons are the most over any three-year period in school history. He led the Cougars to the 2007 and 2008 NCAA Tournaments, the only time WSU has made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
In his first season as a head coach in 2006-07, Bennett took a Washington State squad projected to finish last in the Pac-10 prior to the season and led it to 26 wins (26-8 record), matching the school record, and a second-place finish in the conference with a 13-5 mark. That year, the Cougars made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 13 years, defeating Oral Roberts in the first round before suffering a double-overtime loss to Vanderbilt in the second round.
For his work in 2006-07, Bennett became the most decorated Pac-10 coach in a single season. He was named National Coach of the Year by nine organizations, including the Associated Press, The Sporting News and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. In addition, Bennett was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, the United States Basketball Writers Association District 9 Coach of the Year and the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 14 Coach of the Year.
In 2007-08, Bennett's Cougars were ranked in the AP preseason poll (10th) for the first time in school history and were ranked a school-record No. 4 during the season. The Cougars finished with a 26-9 record, once again tying the school record for wins, and had an 11-7 mark in the Pac-10. Washington State advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 for the first time in school history, defeating Winthrop and Notre Dame in the first two rounds of the tournament. The Cougars fell to top-seeded North Carolina in the NCAA regional semifinal in Charlotte, N.C.
In 2008-09, Bennett led the Cougars to their third consecutive postseason appearance. Washington State posted a 17-16 record and participated in the National Invitation Tournament. The Cougars defeated NCAA Tournament teams Arizona, Arizona State (twice), Mississippi State, and UCLA during the season. The road victory at UCLA was just the second for the Cougars at Pauley Pavilion in 53 years.
Bennett's teams have not only been successful on the court, but also in the classroom. Virginia's Jerome Meyinsse received the ACC's Skip Prosser Award in 2010 as the conference's top men's basketball student-athlete, and Meyinsse and Will Sherrill were named to the 2010 ACC All-Academic Men's Basketball Team. Sherrill was named to the ACC All-Academic Basketball Team for the second consecutive year in 2011 and Will Regan was also named to the team. Four Washington State players were named to the 2009 Pac-10 All-Academic First Team, while a school-record five players were honored as Pac-10 All-Academic selections the previous year. The conference's Scholar Athlete of the Year for men's basketball in 2008 and 2009 were members of the Washington State program.
Before taking over as the head coach at Washington State, Bennett was on the staff of his father, Dick, for three seasons in Pullman, the last two as associate head coach. The previous four years Bennett was at Wisconsin, serving on the staffs of his father, Brad Soderberg and current Badger head coach Bo Ryan. While Bennett was at Wisconsin the Badgers participated in the NCAA Tournament all four years, reaching the 2000 Final Four and the Sweet 16 in 2003. Wisconsin also earned a share of the Big Ten title in 2002 and 2003. Bennett was instrumental in the recruitment of Devin Harris, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, to Wisconsin.
Bennett served as an assistant coach for the gold-medal winning USA, which included Virginia's Mike Tobey, at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. In the summer of 2011, Bennett was a court coach for the USA Basketball Men's World University Games National Team training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Bennett played for his father at Green Bay from 1989-92. He graduated from Green Bay in 1992 and finished his career as the Mid-Continent Conference's all-time leader in career points (2,285) and assists (601). His 49.7 career 3-point field goal percentage is still an NCAA record. Bennett helped the Phoenix to an 87-34 record during his collegiate career, including one NCAA Tournament and two NIT appearances. He was twice named MCC Player of the Year, was the 1992 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner (best senior player under six-feet tall) and was the 1992 GTE Academic All-American of the Year. Bennett was the 35th overall selection in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets and played with the team for three seasons.
In August of 2011 Bennett was named one of the Summit League's (formerly the Mid-Continent Conference) Top 30 Distinguished Contributors for the league's first 30 years at the Division I level.
Bennett and his wife, Laurel, have two children - a daughter, Anna, and a son, Eli.