47 Seconds and a Lifelong Memory: Chase Coleman Relishes Senior Day Moment

March 8, 2023 By Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu

Seated 12 chairs down the bench from coach Tony Bennett’s post along the University of Virginia men’s basketball sideline at John Paul Jones Arena, Chase Coleman first heard the chant from the student section behind him.

“We want Chase! We want Chase! We want Chase!”

Demand for an in-game appearance from the Cavaliers’ rarely used fourth-year guard on Senior Day soon reached a fever pitch among the 14,000 orange- and blue-clad spectators – and Coleman was getting pressure to check in on his own.

“Kadin (Shedrick) kind of joked for me to get up and go in,” Coleman said of his teammate. “I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m doing that. I don’t have the guts to do that.’”

Finally, with 47 seconds remaining in the game and the Wahoos up 16 points on the University of Louisville in Saturday’s home finale, Coleman’s patience was rewarded.

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Chase Coleman dribbling the ball during a game against Louisville
Coleman turns to the bench, seeking a play-call from Tony Bennett. The UVA coach instead simply waved, freeing Coleman to take a shot. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

The crowd roared approval as Bennett motioned Coleman to replace Kihei Clark. Coleman popped off his warm-up shirt, tucked in his No. 12 jersey and prepared himself for a memory he’ll savor for the rest of his life.

Understand that the season is not over for Coleman or UVA. The Cavaliers on Thursday will begin postseason play with a quarterfinal game in the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. The 13th-ranked Wahoos have plenty left to accomplish, but few moments will match the unabashed joy they experienced last weekend when Coleman took the court.

Once Coleman gained possession of the ball, he looked to the bench to see what play Bennett wanted to run. Except all the winningest coach in UVA men’s basketball history did was wave his hand.

Coleman, who entered with just 20 career points over 119 games in a Virginia uniform, had the green light.

“You don’t get many opportunities from a man like Coach Bennett where he says, ‘Go do your thing.’” Coleman said.

After Coleman buries his 3-pointer, everyone at JPJ – most especially his teammates –erupt in excitement. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

Coleman’s thing was a step-back 3-pointer. He launched the ball two feet behind the arc and just over the fingertips of the Louisville defender. The ball grazed the back of the rim and dropped straight through to put the finishing touches on a 75-60 Wahoo win that clinched the program its share of a sixth ACC regular season title in 10 years.

“It felt good from the moment I took my feet to gather myself,” Coleman said of his shot with 30 seconds remaining. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is going in.’”

JPJ, naturally, whipped into a frenzy that carried on through a post-game net-cutting ceremony.

“I was excited to go out that way,” said fellow senior Francisco Caffaro. “Chase was able to go in a couple times this year and he got a couple shots up and he couldn’t make any of them.

“So being in the last minute of this game, in his last game at JPJ, for him to hit that shot in the last minute, it was great. We were so happy for him.”

Despite having scholarship offers elsewhere, Coleman, an all-conference player at Maury High School in Norfolk, chose to walk on at UVA in 2019. The youth and social innovation major aspires for a career in coaching and felt four years of learning under Bennett and his staff would best prepare him for the future.

It’s a been an ideal partnership, Bennett said.

“I always say that you have to make sure young people know how much you want them to be a part of your program,” Bennett said Tuesday. “But when it’s reciprocal and when they say, ‘You know what, I want to be a part of this because I believe in what you’re doing and I want to be there,’ it usually goes well. And that’s been the case with Chase.”

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Coleman, Bennett said, is going to make a “tremendous coach” that the UVA staff would welcome next season should Coleman, who’s expected to graduate in May, not use his pandemic-aided bonus year of playing eligibility.

In other words, Saturday might not have been the last time Coleman is seen at JPJ.

But if it was, boy, did he make it count.

Coleman stayed up until 2 a.m., Sunday, replying to dozens of congratulatory messages, including those from former UVA teammates – and current NBA players – Sam Hauser and Trey Murphy.

It was a 47-second appearance that will last a lifetime.

“A surreal feeling,” Coleman said. “It’s something I can tell my kids about, or my nieces and nephews, and tell them I was part of something special here in Charlottesville.

“If I could do it over again, I would. Wouldn’t change a bit.”

Media Contact

Andrew Ramspacher

University News Associate University Communications