Cougs, Cavs both bummed by Bennett news

TONY BENNETT

BASED ON ANECDOTAL evidence, there's only one group of college basketball fans more bummed out right now than the Cougar faithful. If message board chatter is any indication of the reception Tony Bennett can expect from rank-and-file Virginia Cavaliers fans, then the phrase "Bennett Ball" is going to need some marketing help. Meanwhile, the Cougar Nation mourns.

First, a look at what they're saying in Cavalier country.

The tide of public opinion on HooNation.com – the Virginia version of Cougfan.com – seems less than thrilled with Bennett's hiring. Granted, message boards are less than scientific as polling tools and must be taken with a grain of proverbial salt.

But one criticism of Bennett is that he's not familiar with the south's prep hoops scene and that his methodical brand of ball won't attract the talent needed to keep pace in the high-octane ACC.

Among the posts at HooNation.com this afternoon were these:

"My knee-jerk response is to want to shoot myself. Someone talk me off the ledge."

"Huh? What about Tubby, Capel, or Barnes?"

"… just awful. bring a guy cross country and hope he can land talent on the opposite coast even though he's not a big name. lol...i give up."

"…since this hire came completely out of left field without his name being mentioned really during the search. he better be able to get some decent recruits else he will be dead in the water."

"Can somebody explain this hire over Anthony Grant?"

Meanwhile, on Planet Coug, the reaction among the faithful was mostly one of shock.

"I can't believe it," said one long-time booster who asked not to be identified. "This is a total betrayal to all those young kids on the team … He rides high on his dad's work and now he skips town when the going gets a little more difficult. Where's the character and integrity in that?"

"Tony is going to Virgina? Wow … My first reaction is what a huge loss to the program -- just when things were falling into place for the school and the athletic program," said Guy Williams, a star player at WSU under George Raveling in the early 80s. "My second comment is this: are we ready to dig into the pockets to encourage a proven commodity to come into Pullman and keep the momentum going? "

"Is this an April Fools' joke," said Brandon Scheller, president of the WSU student body.

"I'm just so sad," said Kathy Brindley, a 1979 graduate.

"The Bennett's have done a great deal for our basketball program and we wish Tony all the best. As Cougars we need to keep the momentum moving forward and build a basketball tradition at WSU. We will miss Tony, his father and their wonderful family," said Glenn Osterhout of the King County Cougar Club.

Cougfan.com will be back with more reaction and insight throughout today and the rest of the week.

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