NCAA Tournament 2019 Championship: Virginia completes the trip from last year's ugly start to win her first title



MINNEAPOLIS – Only college basketball could give us something like a storybook: too rich for movies; too perfect for documentaries, like Virginia, who won the NCAA 2019 championship.

Monday night at the U.S. Bank, UVA coach Tony Bennett dropped his head in victory, the weight of his own desires and dreams finally evaporated around him, when the game clock expired and these Virginia Cavaliers completed the largest trade arc in the History of the history of the university.

The overtime win by 85-77 against Texas Tech and their No. 1 defense came in a national title game, no doubt epic and historic, of 2019. The first Virginia championship in the history of the entire school the circle, whose curvature began on March 16, 2018, when the UVA general number 1 lost 20 points to number 16 of the UMBC and became the most infamous loser in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

Now that the historic loss is nothing more than a prologue to the epic victory that Bennett and his Cavs got over the Red Raiders.

The scenes about the stadium were indelible. Kyle Guy jumped through the air, with a stupid smile and all, and De & # 39; Andre Hunter threw the ball apparently halfway towards the ceiling when the clock marked the zeros. Bennett was embraced by his badistant, Jason Williford, as all UVA players and coaches met on the court, except one.

Ty Jerome smiled as he jumped on the team bench to get to his family first. They, and hundreds of others in the Virginia fan section, were soaked in tears. Falling confetti, streams of gold and silver covering Virginia in victory. The Bennett family, seven rows back in the fan section, embraced and practically fell in their seats. This was the catharsis.

It also felt inevitable. Bennett has the first national title of his career. For a long time he has been considered an elite coach. Now there is no doubt about it.

"All the time I thought we were going to win," said Laurel Bennett, Tony's wife. "The storybook felt too much not to happen, I'm not saying I was not nervous, I just thought it was going to happen … There was a fire in his belly, he said:" I want to win. " a national championship more than ever & # 39; ".

The dichotomy of 2018 vs. 2019 is amazing and appropriate (the University of Virginia was founded in 1819). The images of the UMBC victory will live forever as part of the power and daze factor of March, as well as the pain of Virginia. Now this. A baptism by championship.

A gentle, grateful, cheerful Dick Bennett soaked at the scene on the court afterwards.

"The words are not very precise when your emotions exceed them," he said, and then added that "the emotion is worth it for the anguish, believe me."

Virginia responding to the loss to UMBC by winning 35 of her 38 games this season was masterful. The Cavaliers needed lucky breaks, of course, but they deserved it and they deserved it.

"The team received these death threats," said Laurel Bennett in 2018. "They took a police escort back to the hotel, entered through a side door, a policeman went up with each of the boys to their rooms. ridiculous and that made him feel a lot worse for them, I think. "

Exacerbated things. In the days and weeks that followed, Tony and Laurel decided for their family and this program that the loss would be the beginning of something positive. I had no matter what I brought next season, on March 16, 2018 I would not define Virginia basketball.

In light of this victory, however, he has. It is the last example of reappearing after being shot down. This story has no parallel in the history of American sports.

"We had a lot of conversations and they were all good," said Laurel Bennett. "They were difficult and he was upset, but it was a perspective, what really mattered, what it meant to lose, what we would learn from that, we are already thinking about how we are going to talk about this forever, how we are going to deal with that" . that with the team. He had that interview about the man in the arena, and I think people were more impressed by that response to a loss than it has ever been or ever is that it says about a victory. "

And of course it had to be like that. After the magical flight against Purdue in the Elite Eight; The pbad from Kihei Clark to Mamadi Diakite is the decision of the tournament. After the freaky escape from Auburn in the Final Four; The lack of Kyle Guy was a cosmic kiss, once again, in favor of the UVA.

And on the final night of the season, one more opponent to knock down. It would be dramatic. For the third consecutive game of tournaments, Virginia was delayed until the second half. The triple of De & # 39; Andre Hunter from the corner gave way to overtime, becoming the first title game to go to OT since 2008.

"My (Apple) Watch told me to breathe," said Kathi Bennett, Tony's sister.

Hunter, Guy (the most outstanding player in the Final Four) and Jerome also played together on Monday as they had throughout the season, combining 67 of the team's 85 points. Virginia, dominant as he was for most of this 2018-19 season, never made it easy in the postseason. Even the first-round game of 2019 against Gardner-Webb was full of horror flashbacks, UVA losing two digits in that game before winning again.

But Hunter's hand game, his triple to tie him near the end of regulation, is one of the best shots in the history of the school, and the decision of the UVA to stabilize in the extra period was the correct ending.

How incredible is it that the first title game in the history of the university's history in which both teams scored at least 10 3-point shots came from two epic defenders? This was the end that this NCAA Tournament deserved.

The wahos twice threw 10 points of advantage. That only extends the anxiety. Texas Tech had it, until it did not. Like Oregon, Purdue and Auburn.

The best team and the best university basketball program won the national title. That does not happen every year. This 2019 is the end of a story, but it could easily be the fruitful start of another.

The obvious thread from 2018 to 2019 makes this a unique history of American sports success. But this is also a material validation of Virginia's position in college basketball. Bennett has led Virginia to 178 wins over the past six seasons, that is, 30 wins per year. It is as good as almost any program in sports.

Maybe this ends up as the only title that Bennett wins. But with the narrative that "Virginia style can not win in the tournament" erupted in elimination forever, you can not say you'd be surprised if the Cavaliers were in the Final Four again in 2020 or several times in the next few years.

The Wahoos have qualified as one of the six best KenPom teams in five of the past six seasons. They were great before winning a national title. They are legendary now. And it's probably going to be more dangerous in the future. Winning a championship will only strengthen this program, Bennett and will increase its ceiling.

It is an incredible story that became credible due to Bennett's unique disposition. This is the best team, the best story and it became one of the best finals we've seen in the history of the university's history.


Source link