By Jeff White
CHARLOTTESVILLE — About an hour before tipoff Saturday at John Paul Jones Arena, UVa distributed a news release in which Tony Bennett announced that all-ACC candidate Sylven Landesberg had been suspended for the rest of the season.
The reason: Landesberg’s failure to live up to his academic obligations.
After the game — a 74-68 loss to 22nd-ranked Maryland in the regular-season finale — Bennett was asked about Landesberg’s suspension.
“That was a hard decision. We know the value he has to our team,” Bennett said. “He’s a good kid, and it was a difficult decision, but as the statement says, there are some expectations and some standards that have to be adhered to … Like I said, it was not easy to do, considering the circumstances, but there are, again, some expectations, and there are consequences to those.
“There’s a big picture. We’re really trying to establish this program with the right kind of things, for the present, for the future, and really trying to build it … When you come to a school like the University of Virginia, there’s some opportunities and expectations that, when they’re not met, action’s taken. And we want our program, the young men, to understand that when we say things, we mean them.
“Again, I care for him. Hard decision, and we’ll see what happens from it.”
The decision to suspend Landesberg was Bennett’s, the Cavaliers’ first-year coach said. In December, senior forward Jamil Tucker was dismissed from the team for academic reasons.
Landesberg, a 6-6 sophomore from Queens, N.Y., leads UVa in scoring, assists and minutes played. He’s second in rebounding. As a freshman, Landesberg was ACC rookie of the year.
“He messed up, but we’re still family, and we just gotta reach out to him,” UVa guard Sammy Zeglinski said. “He’s going through some tough times right now, so we want to be there for him.”
Asked if he expected Landesberg back on the team next season, Zeglinski said, “I’m not going to comment on that. I have no idea. I’m just going to be there for him as a teammate and a friend.”
The rest of the team learned before its shootaround Saturday morning that Landesberg had been suspended.
“Coach Bennett expects us to put as much effort into academics as we do into basketball,” junior forward Will Sherrill said after the game.
Sherrill said he hadn’t talked to Landesberg since the suspension was announced but planned to do so.
“I really hope he will come back,” said Sherrill, who’s also from New York City. “He’s a great teammate and a great friend. I love the guy like a brother.”