First words from coach after winning NCAA championship: ‘I’m humbled, Lord’
When the buzzer went off Monday night and the University of Virginia claimed its first national championship, head coach Tony Bennett said he lowered his head and prayed. “Thank you. I’m humbled, Lord.”
Last year UVA became the first No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history to lose to a 16-seed, breaking brackets all across the nation. Nevertheless, this year was altogether different. The Cavaliers went from bracket breakers to champions in the ultimate turnaround with an 85-77 overtime win over Texas Tech. As a result, Bennett gave thanks to God and urged his team to stay humble, Fox Sports reported.
“I think there was a bigger plan going on here,” Bennett said in a post-game press conference. “I wasn’t needed but I was used in it, and I hope that it’s a message for some people that there can be hope and joy in resiliency, and I’m thankful for what happened.”
In the locker room, Bennett told his team “promise me you’ll remain humble, don’t let this change you.”
As the confetti was coming down late Monday night, Bennett told CBS he has a poster of Rocky in his office because he just wanted a chance at a title fight one day.
“I told them, I just want a chance at a title fight one day.” ✊
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 9, 2019
“This is a great story,” Bennett said, adding that he played the song “Hills and Valleys” by Christian artist Tauren Wells.
“It just means that you’re never alone in the hills or the valleys,” Bennett said. “And we faced those from last year to this year. But the credit goes to these young men, and I can’t wait to celebrate with my wife and my kids and my parents. And I do want to thank the Lord and my Savior.”
After getting bounced in the first round last year, Bennett kept perspective. He quoted Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” One year later, he got to share that joy with his team.
He prays individually for each player and runs the basketball program on the five pillars, something he got from his dad, Dick Bennett, a retired college basketball coach, based on humility, passion, unity, servanthood, and thankfulness.
“It’s my hope that they’ll be able to find the truth in their lives that has really transformed my life,” Bennett told the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “But I realize they’re all on a journey, and I certainly try to be respectful of that.”