The Virginia Cavaliers began the regular season unheralded and unranked. They ended it as the No. 1 team in the country and a favorite going into this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament — with many giving credit to their faith-fueled coach.
Tony Bennett has been around basketball for much of his life, due in part to his father and retired coach Dick Bennett.
But a love of basketball is not all the elder Bennett passed down. Tony Bennett watched his father develop a way to coach basketball that honored Christ. And he has built the Virginia program around the biblical principles of “humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness” — what he calls the “Five Pillars.”
Those principles have brought Bennett success on and off the court and lead him to pray for his players.
“It’s my hope that they’ll be able to find the truth in their lives that has transformed my life,” he told Decision magazine. “But I realize they’re all on a journey, and I certainly try to be respectful of that.”
Bennett has coached players who share his faith and appreciate the connection and encouragement they can gain from that.
Developing that sense of unity — one of his five pillars — is one of the most enjoyable aspects of coaching a basketball team for Bennett.
“What they believe, their faith, or where they’re from — they’re really trying to mold everything into a strong unit and wanting to come together for a common goal,” Bennett told The Daily Progress.
He has garnered the respect of his team, but also from opposing coaches. Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski said Bennett is a role model for players.
“He leads his own life in a way that’s easy to follow,” Krzyzewski told Decision magazine. “He practices what he teaches. When a teacher does that, the students usually do it a lot better.”
Bennett’s humility in the midst of his achievements stands out to Krzyzewski.
“He doesn’t think of himself as better than anybody,” the Duke coach said. “I really like that humility [from] a very successful person, when they show [it] and it’s genuine.”
Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press