Virginia head coach Tony Bennett celebrates after cutting down the net following the championship game against Texas Tech in the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. Virginia won 85-77 in overtime. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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, but this year, the Cavaliers went from "worst to first" with the ultimate turnaround with an 85-77 overtime win over Texas Tech, and Bennett gave thanks to God and urged his team to stay humble.
"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."
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett celebrates with fans after the championship game against Texas Tech in the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. Virginia won 85-77 in overtime. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
In the locker room, Bennett told his team "promise me you'll remain humble, don't let this change you."
And as the confetti was coming down, Bennett told CBS he has a poster of Rocky in his office because he just wanted a chance at a title fight one day.
"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 last year's loss, Bennett quoted Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." On Monday night, one year later, he got to share that joy with his team.
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, right, celebrates with his team after the championship game against Texas Tech in the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. Virginia won 85-77 in overtime.(AP Photo/Matt York)
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.”