GREENSBORO, N.C. -- I hadn't seen Tony Bennett coach in person for a couple of years, since he had it rolling at Washington State. I forgot how much I like watching him work and his teams play. Bennett is involved without being insane. He's more of a supporter than a screamer. He'll correct, but then he'll let mistakes go and move on to the next possession. Just wait until he's got enough good players in Charlottesville; they'll compete for league titles.
The Cavaliers are competing over their heads today. Lacking leading scorer Sylven Landesberg, suspended for academic reasons for the remainder of the season, they are running poised offense and getting timely shots from several players -- most notably guard Sammy Zeglinski, who came in averaging 8.8 points per game and has 16 at intermission. Wow. Virginia has made 6 of 11 3-point shots.
There are a lot of empty green seats here, but the atmosphere isn't as crypt-like as I've seen at some matinee quarterfinal games in other leagues. ACC fans are more willing to turn out to watch teams they're not affiliated with than a lot of other conferences. Good fans.
That said, there are plenty of word-of-mouth stories about this being a surprisingly soft ticket. When the tourney is in Greensboro, tickets are legendarily hot items -- but the balky economy and miserable status of North Carolina and North Carolina State are being blamed for the downturn in interest this year.
Duke assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski are scouting this one from the baseline, since the Blue Devils will play the winner tomorrow. They don't look overly concerned.