Virginia coach Tony Bennett spoke on the "hills and valleys" of the last year that led to the Cavaliers' first national championship in program history Monday night in Minneapolis, where they took down Texas Tech 85–77 in an overtime thriller one year after their historic first-round loss to UMBC.
"I don't know if all these guys will remember this, but when they come in my office I got a poster of Rocky on the steps, and I told them, I just want a chance at a title fight one day," Bennett said after the win. "That's all we want. These guys came to fight in this title and now we're the champs. I'm so thankful because this is a great story."
The veteran Virginia coach added that he reminded his team today before the game about what they've faced in the last year.
"I played a song for them today called 'Hills and Valleys' by Tauren Wells and it just means that you're never alone in the hills and the valleys and we faced those this year. The credit goes to these young men and I can't wait to celebrate with my wife and my kids and my parents. I do want to thank the Lord and my savior."
When asked about overcoming last year's loss and turning what Bennett called a "painful gift," into a championship, Bennett gave the credit to his players.
"We have a saying about the most faithful wins and these guys stayed so faithful," Bennett said. "Obviously we had some amazing plays. This is about the young men, they made the plays, they did the stuff. Coaches get too much credit when it goes well and they get too much blame when it goes bad. These young men deserve this championship. I'm so happy. Go 'Hoos!"
Bennett finished his championship speech by trying to finesse a round of golf at Augusta with his father and former coach, Dick Bennett.
“My dad said if I ever make it to the Final Four, he’d come and play Augusta with me. So maybe you can get us on that course, alright?" Bennett asked CBS's Jim Nantz.
Nantz responded: “I’ll work on that one.”