It was a good year for the Tony Bennett coaching tree, including former UVa assistant Ritchie McKay, who guided Liberty to a 30-4 record and the Atlantic Sun regular-season and tournament championships.
McKay, had spent two seasons at Liberty when he joined Bennett’s first staff at UVa in 2009 as associate head coach. After seven seasons in Charlottesville, McKay returned to Liberty for the 2016-17 season.
Taking his position as associate head coach was Ron Sanchez, who spent 12 seasons as a Bennett aide, including stints at Washington State and UVa.
Sanchez subsequently took over a Charlotte team that was 6-23 in 2017-18 and has gone 8-21 and 16-13, including a signature 67-65 win over ACC opponent Wake Forest in November.
Five of Charlotte’s losses came by six points or fewer, two of them in overtime. His staff includes former UVa and Liberty staffer Vic Sfera, as well as associate director of basketball operations Katharine Palmer, previously the UVa office manager.
n Following the departure of James Madison coach Louis Rowe, it’s no surprise that current Virginia associate head coach Jason Williford has been mentioned as a possible Dukes target. Williford, a former UVa player, has been on the Cavaliers’ staff for each of Bennett’s 12 seasons.
n The Tony Bennett coaching tree is actually the Bennett family coaching tree, including his father, Dick, and his sister, Kathi, at Indiana. Current UVa assistant Brad Soderberg worked under Dick Bennett at Wisconsin and later was the head coach at Saint Louis.
ACCsports.com and other publications have been pitching names for possible successors to Wake Forest men’s basketball coach Danny Manning if the Deacons were to make a move after a 13-18 season and a three-way tie with North Carolina and Pittsburgh for last in the ACC at 6-14.
It was the fifth losing season in six years for the Deacons, who were 19-14 and received an NCAA bid in 2016-17 but subsequently have gone 11-20, 11-20 and 13-18.
Former Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan head coach John Beilein has been mentioned as a possibility for Wake after his resignation as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. There has also been talk about Penn State’s Pat Chambers as a possibility after a Big 10 stint that includes two seasons of at least 20 wins in the past three years.
n The new men’s basketball coach at UNC Wilmington, Takayo Siddle, returns to the Seahawks program, after three seasons as an assistant at N.C. State. The head coach there, Kevin Keatts was hired by the Wolfpack after a successful stint at Wilmington. Siddle played for Keatts at Hargrave Military Academy.
The current Wolfpack staff also includes former Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson, who was one of Keatts’ college teammates at Ferrum.
UVa star coming to Roanoke
Record-setting Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins will be in Roanoke on Sunday for an appearance at the Hollins location of Sports Haven.
Sports Haven ownership has taken extra caution in order to meet safety measures outlined by the state in its dealing with the coronavirus. Efforts will be made to limit groups in the parking lot or store to 10 or fewer at one time.
Participants who have purchased selfies may kneel or stand beside Perkins, who will be seated behind the signature table. Social distancing is required.
For more information, contact store manager Shane Parks at 798-4649. Perkins’ arrival is slated for 2 p.m. and the store will be open till 5.