CHARLOTTSVILLE, Va. — Here at the University of Virginia, long tenured academics refer to the third U.S. President as Mr. Jefferson. Life on campus — referred to as "the grounds" — is rooted in the school's historic founder.
Men's basketball coach Tony Bennett, meanwhile, relies on a different raconteur.
"Simplicity with execution," he said Tuesday, nestled comfortably in the spacious digs of his John Paul Jones Arena office.
Bennett's philosophies are more Vince Lombardi than Thomas Jefferson.
It shows on the court. The Wisconsin native and son of legendary coach Dick Bennett brought a slow-it-down, grind-it-out style to the Cavaliers.
It's not pretty, but winning doesn't need to be.
Tony Bennett and Virginia have several similarities with coach Cuonzo Martin and the Tennessee Vols (4-2), who come to John Paul Jones Arena Wednesday (TV: 7 p.m., ESPN3.com) for an out-of-conference tilt.
"How we value possessions is in line with what Cuonzo does," Bennett said. "There are similarities and subtle differences. We understand it's going to be physical. There will be spurts and some opportunities to get out in transition, but you're going to have to lace 'em up pretty tight to play in this one."
Sitting at 6-2, the Cavs have won five straight games, including an impressive win at Wisconsin, after dropping two early games against George Mason and Delaware. Holes in the point guard position had Virginia, "scrambling to find an identity," through the early goings, according to Bennett.
His words parallel Martin's of late. Tennessee's identity currently resides on the bench in the form of injured senior forward Jeronne Maymon.
Finding a winning formula is what early-season games like this are all about.
"When you're trying to find success, these games are just a deposit for that success," Bennett said. "It's, 'OK, this is how we have to do it.' That's important."
Bennett calls his style "cold water in the face." The Cavs rank fourth nationally allowing just 52.9 points per game. They have held opponents under 50 points three times this season and 21 times in Bennett's four-year tenure.
Virginia is 20-1 in those games.
Those are cringe-worthy stats for a Tennessee team coming off an ugly, 37-36 loss to Georgetown.
In that affair, Georgetown coach John Thompson III tossed out his typical 2-3 zone defense and held the Vols to 15 made field goals. Bennett resolutely plays containment man-to-man defense with some zone philosophies.
Even so, he can't ignore what the game film tells him: Tennessee struggles against the zone.
Asked Tuesday if he intends to shift his defense to fit UT's shortcomings, Bennett laughed and countered, "I don't want to give all my secrets away. You've got to be true to who you are."
Martin and Bennett aren't strangers. They coached alongside each other as assistants to Purdue head coach Matt Painter at tryouts for the 2011 Pan American Games.
Stretching history back further, Tony Bennett remembers cheering against Martin back in March of 1995. Martin toed the free-throw line with 35.2 seconds remaining in a first-round NCAA tournament game. His Purdue team trailed 48-47. Dick Bennett, Tony's dad, was on the sideline as the head coach of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Martin made both free throws.
Purdue won 49-48.
It was Dick Bennett's last game at Green Bay. He left that offseason to coach the Wisconsin Badgers. Tony Bennett, who watched the game from afar as a member of the Charlotte Hornets, remembers the game vividly.
"It was a tough, low-scoring game," he said.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn