Virginia’s run to the college basketball national championship is the stuff of Hollywood. In fact, it’s so over-the-top cheesy — going from the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed to national champions in the course of a year — that it would be the type of movie you avoid when it’s out in the theaters, then your mom buys it for you for Christmas and you don’t have the heart to tell her you’ll never watch it.
But it wasn’t the work of fiction, it really happened.
We wrote previously about Bennett’s response to the historic UMBC loss of 2018, which was perfect.
“I always challenge our guys, what’s your secret of contentment? What’s your secret of contentment? There’s going to be times, it talks about you’re going to be well fed and living in plenty, and there’s going to be times when you’re going to be starving and living in want,” Bennett said. “What’s your secret of handling that? That I know, without a doubt, those of us who have parents or kids, that love you give them unconditionally or if your faith is there, that has to buoy you, and that has to be your center, and you dwell on what is good because there is a bigger picture in all of this, and I believe I understand that. So going through those refining moments, they’re tough, but you look back at them, and in a way, they’re sometimes painful gifts that draw you near to what truly matters. I think that’s the best way I could respond to that.”
Bennett said he drew on his Christian faith to get him through that loss, and ahead of Monday night’s title game, another ACC head coach and devout Christian reached out to him with on-brand advice:
Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett said he received a text before the national championship game from a rival schools football coach. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney’s text simply said:
“Let the light that shines in you be brighter than the light that shines on you.”
— casey cariker (@ccariker) April 9, 2019
This is perfect Dabo. The light of the world is conditional — Virginia could easily have lost to Texas Tech, or Auburn, or Purdue, all games Virginia trailed inside the final 12 seconds but won anyway. But the light Bennett shows — his faith, the love of his family — is unconditional, to borrow a phrase from Bennett himself.