Tony Bennett has proven he can win where it's tough to win. After taking Washington State to No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the NCAA tourney, look at what happened to that program after he left in 2009.
The Cougars have never returned to the NCAA tourney and haven't won more than 13 games in a season in five years.
Even his own father Dick Bennett, who took Wisconsin to the Final Four in 2001, couldn't win more than 13 games in four seasons at Washington State before handing over the reins after losing seven straight to end the 2007-08 season.
Fast forward to Virginia. Before he arrived in 2009 the Cavaliers had made just two NCAA tournaments in the last 16 seasons. After building up the program basically from scratch his first two years, Virginia has won 22 or more games the last six seasons, and won 29 or more games the three years prior to this season.
Like his father's teams, Tony Bennett has been successful because he gets his teams to guard better than just about any other program. After losing ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon and other key players from last year's team, Virginia had another good season, thanks in large part to the No. 2 rated defense in the country.
The popular argument against Bennett is his teams don't score enough on offense. Much of that is due to good defense. And as you can see his offensive efficiency ratings haven't been that bad throughout his career.
|2006-07||68||16||2nd in t/o%||26-8|
|2007-08||20||10||10th in t/o%||26-9|
|2008-09||132||11||2nd in def OR||17-16|
|2009-10||93||74||19th in t/o%||15-16|
|2010-11||152||75||19th in 3FG%||16-15|
|2011-12||134||5||5th in def OR||22-10|
|2012-13||83||24||17th in 3FG%||23-12|
|2013-14||27||4||5th in def OR||30-7|
|2014-15||22||2||5th in def OR||30-4|
|2015-16||8||7||10th in 3FG%||29-8|
|2016-17||51||2||18th in t/o%||23-11|
Besides great defensive efficiency, Bennett's teams often were top 10-20 in turnover rate and in giving up the fewest offensive boards to opponents.
His offensive tempo is often near the bottom of Division I but at Indiana it's likely that Bennett could recruit a bit more talented player and in turn have his teams get good shots earlier in the offense, creating more possessions and higher scoring games.
Bennett also employs his version of the motion offense that Indiana fans watched for the 29 years of the Bob Knight era that brought three national titles.
Here's a look at Bennett's coaching record:
|Year||School||W/L||W/L %||Conf||W/L %||Postseason|
|2006-07||Wash St||26-8||.765||13-5||.722||NCAA R32|
|2007-08||Wash St||26-9||.743||11-7||.611||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2008-09||Wash St||17-16||.515||8-10||.444||NIT R32|
|2012-13||Virginia||23-12||.657||11-7||.611||NIT Elite 8|
|2013-14||Virginia||30-7||.811||16-2||.889||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2015-16||Virginia||29-8||.784||13-5||.722||NCAA Elite 8|
After playing for his father at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Bennett played in the NBA for three seasons for the Charlotte Hornets and then played pro ball in Australia before coming back to Wisconsin. There in Madison he worked for his father and then under Bo Ryan before joining his father's staff at Washington State.
Bennett is a two-time winner of the prestigious Henry Iba Award for the nation's top coach.
Bennett's sister Kathi was the Indiana women's basketball coach before stepping down after five seasons in March of 2005. She had a 72-74 record in her five seasons in Bloomington. The circumstances surrounding that may have played a part in his lack of interest in the Indiana job in 2006 but is not expected to impact his interest this time around. That was over 12 years ago and there's been a nearly full turnover of administration.
Why he might not come
By all accounts Bennett is happy at Virginia and has turned down several opportunities to take higher paying opportunities. It's a gorgeous campus and the job doesn't come with the same pressure that he would have at Indiana. He's in one of the most prestigious leagues in the country and doing well. He's making nearly $2.5 million per season. and Indiana would have to address his $3 million buyout.
Why he may come
Bennett's Virginia teams have been very good but he's had trouble getting over the hump and into the Final Four. Can he recruit well enough to ever that make that happen? Big question.
Indiana may be able to afford to pay him as much as $2 million more annually than he is making now. And the Indiana opportunity might the most elite job he will ever be offered.
It's likely that Bennett is one of the first two or three coaches that Indiana pursues. Especially now that his season is over and he can be spoken to before some of the other candidates. We'll estimate the odds in the 25-40 percent range that he's willing to jump and if he is, expect Indiana to get out the checkbook.