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Ohio player named after Bennett family; Bobcats coach tasted victory over Wahoos in ‘94

By Jerry Ratcliffe


(© nobeastsofierce –

There are few connections between Virginia’s basketball program and first-round opponent Ohio University. The most unique of those is 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas.

Vander Plas is named for the Bennett family, Virginia coach Tony Bennett and Tony’s dad, Dick. Vander Plas’ father Dean, played with Tony Bennett in college at Wisconsin-Green Bay. Their coach was Dick Bennett.

Dean Vander Plas had such affection for the Bennetts that he named his son, Ben, in their honor. Dean has been a Virginia fan for quite some time because of his friendship with the Bennett family and was even rooting for the Cavaliers from the stands in Minneapolis for UVA’s national championship in 2019.

While that is fine with Ohio University head coach Jeff Boals, there was a slight adjustment to Ben Vander Plas’ name in practice this week.

“We told him this week that his name is no longer Bennett,” Boals laughed. “I told him this week he’s going to be called ‘Maximus.’”

Boals made the remarks during an appearance on the “Jerry Ratcliffe Show” podcast, which can be found on this site.

Boals couldn’t resist the temptation to mention at the end of the podcast if we (Chris Graham and yours truly, hosts of the show) remembered the 1994 preseason NIT game between Ohio and Virginia. I not only remembered, but covered that game at University Hall, 94-83 Ohio win over the 14th-ranked Cavaliers.

“Harold Deane, Junior Burrough and Cory Alexander, that team was loaded,” said Boals, who was a member of that Ohio U. team.

Boals said that when he thinks of Virginia, that his his “memory” of the Cavaliers. He’ll get a new memory on Saturday night.

The Bennetts just hope its not a repeat of the 1994 one.


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