Virginia: How To Turn Your Worst Loss Into Your Best Win

UVA Kyle Guy
Cavaliers junior Kyle Guy who was named most outstanding player and had 24 points said, “this is how this it was supposed to end.”

Coach Tony Bennet drew inspiration from the Contemporary Christian song “Hills and Valleys” as he described how his University of Virginia team bounced back from one of the most humbling losses in sports history.

They said it would never happen, but one year ago, the Virginia Cavaliers were the first No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history to lose to a No. 16 seed. Ouch — that one really hurt. I remember that loss like it was yesterday.

But now, The University of Virginia Cavliers are champions of the college basketbal world for the first time in men’s program history. In his post-game comments, the Virginia head coach recounted how he drew inspiration from the movie Rocky and used the film as a source of motivation for his players. As well as crediting Rocky, Bennett also mentioned a song by Tauren Wells. The song called “Hills and Valleys” contains these heartwarming, spirit lifting words:

I’ve walked among the shadows

You wiped my tears away

And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak

And I’ve seen the brighter days

And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place

And I have held the blessings

God, you give and take away

No matter what I have, Your grace is enough

No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love

On the mountains, I will bow my life

To the one who set me there

In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there

When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own

When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!

You’re God of the hills and valleys!

Hills and Valleys!

Here’s what Coach Bennet had to say after the big overtime win:

“I played a song for them today called ‘Hills and Valleys’ by Tauren Wells,” Bennett shared after the game. “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.” https://kfan.iheart.com/featured/mansour-s-musings/content/2019-04-09-this-is-the-song-that-helped-push-tony-bennett-virginia-to-a-championship/

Beyond just the sting of last year’s opening-round loss to the UMBC Retrievers, Bennett has faced numerous questions about whether his defense-first approach was holding back the Cavaliers in the tournament. Despite enjoying a lot of success in the regular season, Virginia had just one Elite Eight appearance in Bennett’s first nine seasons.

Charles Barkley aptly pointed out that Virginia’s best player, De’Aandre Hunter, who went to MY High School, Friends’ Central in Philly, DNP – did not play in last year’s painful loss to UMBC. Hmmmm.

And so this title is an emphatic statement as to Bennett’s tactical acumen. And with only one senior (Jack Salt) on the roster, Virginia might be right back in the Final Four in 2020.

Virginia defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders 85-77 in Monday’s 2019 NCAA men’s basketball national championship game.

With 12.9 seconds left in regulation, De’Andre Hunter hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 68 and send it to overtime. Hunter stepped up big again in overtime, connecting from long range to put Virginia ahead 75-73 with 2:10 remaining.

Since I’ve lived in Virginia most of my life, I’m so happy for UVA and for Coach Bennet and for the players that endured last year’s cross of a loss which was for them a Calvary.

Theologically speaking, it just proves all over again that a cross always paves the way to a crown. Virginia’s win proves all over again that we oftentimes must endure the lowest of lows before God raises us up to rejoice in the victory that is ours. And it is our destiny that we win.

Don’t Throw In The Towel

Rocky poster 6

The Eagles lost to the Redskins today, 23-20. And it was pitiful and pathetic and painful to watch (didn’t I tell you not to watch?) Anyway . . . Since I’m from Philly, I’m reaching and looking and straining to find some semblance of hope. And Rocky is the best I can come up with.

In the film that bears his name, Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect. The character, the actor and the film were long shots to be respectable and all three could have thrown in the towel. But the film won 3 Academy Awards in 1976, including Best Picture, and is an enduring emblem of courage, confidence and spiritual conviction. And I need all three right now after watching my Eagles blow a winnable game in a woeful way.

So don’t throw in the towel. Even though the coaching is callous and the kicking is cockeyed and the “O” Line is dreary and the outlook is bleary, I’m not going to throw in the towel. I’m not. I want to, but I won’t. I care to, but I can’t. Because no able bodied, bona fide, born again believer will ever throw in the towel.

This phrase comes from boxing. When a boxer is too beat up to continue, his coach throws a towel into the ring to signal that the fight is over. But even though we are beat up and beat down and beat all around, we never give up. Just like Winston Churchill said.

And the Apostle Paul gave us this encouragement:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, KJV

Rocky Inspirational Poster

So, my Eagles fans, don’t throw in the towel. At least not yet.

http://www.artistdirect.com/video/never-give-up/39789

Sing Your Fight Song

  Rocky-with-kids

Fight songs.  They inspire, motivate, and drive.  I believe they are called “fight songs” because our teams are in a fight for victory. A fight is a clash and a contest, a battle and a brawl to determine supremacy.  The weekly competitions on the gridiron, however, are no match for the epic, eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell, good and evil, right and wrong. So, if we sing fight songs for the earthly competitions between flesh and blood, why not join in the eternal chorus for the ultimate prize? 

Fight songs. We don’t call the songs, hymns and spiritual songs we sing in church “fight songs”, but they are fight songs nonetheless. We are singing and cheering for our “team.”  Our team is “Team Jesus:” Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We worship the creator and the redeemer. We praise the Alpha and the Omega.  We cheer on the King of Kings and Lords because the victory has already been won, and the outcome has never been in doubt.

Heaven and earth sing fight songs.  Continue reading