In an unbelievable ending that began a year ago with one of the worst losses ever in the NCAA tournament, the University of Virginia Cavaliers pulled off an incredible titanic win in Minneapolis, MN, on Monday, April 8, 2019, to take their place in school history as the first team ever to come back home with the Championship trophy.
The last time UVA was in the NCAA tournament was back in 1984 – 35 years ago. With former Cavalier stars Ralph Sampson (who guided UVA to its first Final Four in 1981 and was there to watch his nephew, Braxton Key in action) and Jimmy Miller (from the 1984 team) in the stands, along with students, diehard fans and, of course, the UVA Marching Band looking on, the Cavaliers once again locked down their defense and hit crucial three-pointers.
This included the one from De’Andre Hunter to tie it up at the end of regular play on Monday night with 12 seconds left on the clock. Overtime saw the Cavaliers rely on their free throw skills to put them ahead once and for all.
Coach Tony Bennett, who is in his 10th year here at UVA, was interviewed recently and said that the loss last year was one the team would never forget, but they vowed to move past it. “Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s moving forward in the face of fear,” he said in a recent interview.
We all saw that courage in action last night from our balcony vantage point at the historic Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall. Fans also piled into the John Paul Jones – aka JPJ – Stadium at the University and at bars and restaurants from the Corner to all points around town.
At the final buzzer the crowds spilled out into the streets in a happy mess of disbelief and awe, with some still clutching their hearts from yet another “Cardiac Cavs” performance. This time it was a decisive win – 85-77 – rather than a nail biter of a point difference.
In a social media post, Coach Bennett said the following, “I think when this happens and you see runs like this, it does captivate a university, a town, a community because it’s part of a story bigger than yourself, and that’s, I think, a beautiful thing, and I think it’s powerful, and it helps heal some wounds if there have been hard things.
“So if sports can bring joy to a community, then that’s using it in the right way,” said Coach Bennett.
For a moment, Charlottesville was in the national spotlight for a fantastic reason and we all felt the joy and were happy we had experienced it together – what a night to remember!!!!