Days after Virginia had captured the program’s fifth NCAA title on Memorial Day weekend, coach Dom Starsia gathered the players together and attempted to brace them for the impending talk – and accompanying pressure – of the Cavaliers being the favorite to repeat as national champions.
“I told the kids to smile about this for a little bit,” Starsia recalled. “We’re proud that we won. We’re always ranked pretty highly to begin with. So it is what it is. We’re not shirking away from the responsibility of the accountability of it all. But at the same time, it’s hard. It’s hard to win it twice in a row. It would happen a lot more often if it wasn’t hard.”
Only five different schools have succeeded at securing back-to-back crowns, and Syracuse was the most recent program to do so, winning in 2008 and 2009.
Virginia has never accomplished that feat, but with four championships since 1999, the team certainly has a foundation to build on.
“We’re not running away from it,” Starsia said. “There are lots of other guys in my profession who would like to have the problem we’re having. So we’ll seize this opportunity. I’ve got a good bunch of guys. We’ll see if we can make it happen. We’ll do everything we can to try to make it happen. But at the same time, I’ve tried to impress on my players that it’s not going to be an easy task. We’ll get everybody’s best shot, but we’re proud to be a program that has those kinds of issues.”