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Jan. 20, 2010
10:28 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The spring semester started Wednesday at UVa, but you wouldn’t have found any men’s basketball players in class that morning.

They weren’t out of town, and they weren’t sleeping in. Their coach, Tony Bennett, decided before the semester to alter the Wahoos’ practice schedule.

They’ll practice from 9 to about 11 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, except on game days, for the rest of the regular season. The rest of the week, the ‘Hoos will practice in the afternoon as usual.

“We’ll evaluate it and see how it goes,” Bennett said after a spirited practice Wednesday morning.

“It’s not like it’s [former Temple coach] John Chaney, practicing at 5 or 6 a.m. We’re at the point where our practices are intense and around an hour-and-a-half, where we get in and we get out. And then the kids, they’re up, and it gets them ready for classes.”

Senior center Jerome Meyinsse has no issues with the new practice schedule.

“I’ve been here for four years,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of 6 a.m. [workouts], things like that.

“We used to have breakfast [as a team] every day. This is just like days that we have to get breakfast. No problem for me.”

The Wahoos have no more Monday games. They play four more times on Wednesdays: Feb. 3 (N.C. State), Feb. 10 (at Maryland), Feb. 17 (Florida State) and March 3 (at Boston College). For the N.C. State and FSU games, the morning practices will be walk-throughs.

“So it’s really not that many times,” Bennett said. “It’s not a big deal.”

On Mondays and Wednesdays, the players have afternoon classes.

When practice ended Monday, the players gathered around Bennett, who reminded them of their academic responsibilities.

“Have a good first day,” he said. “Let’s get off on the right foot.”

Virginia (3-0, 12-4), which leads the ACC, plays Saturday at Wake Forest (3-2, 13-4). The Demon Deacons whipped North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Wednesday night.

“We’re going on the road to play a heck of a team, so it’s how we prepare and how focused we are in practice,” Bennett said. “Today they were intense and focused, and that was good.”

Jeff White

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