Upon winning the NCAA championship on monday night, coach Tony Bennett of the University of Virginia Cavaliers knew just who to thank. His first words after taking the title were “Thank you. I’m humbled, Lord,” Fox News reported.
Indeed, the title win almost seems miraculous. This championship game is the first the University of Virginia has ever won.
“I think there was a bigger plan going on here,” Bennett added after the game. “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.”
Coach Bennett also had a warning for his players: “Promise me you’ll remain humble, don’t let this change you.”
Bennett told CBS that he keeps a poster of film hero Rocky on his wall because it reminded him how much he wanted a change at the title.
“I told them, I just want a chance at a title fight one day.” ✊
Hear from Tony Bennett after his @UVAMensHoops squad win the #NationalChampionship! #GoHoos pic.twitter.com/ebjjLuedie
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 9, 2019
Bennett says that religion is an important part of his life and that he prays individually for each player. He also runs his basketball program on the five pillars, something he picked up from his father. The program is based on principles of 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 said in 2014. “But I realize they’re all on a journey, and I certainly try to be respectful of that.”
Bennett made that comment after winning the ACC Tournament in 2014, the first time UVA won the title since 1976. Since then, in 2017 Bennett surpassed 250 career wins, he won another ACC Tournament in 2018, led the Cavaliers to the Elite Eight in 2016 and 2019. And now the Cavaliers have taken the school’s first NCAA championship ever.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.