“For this team to come back one year later and be here,” he said. “It’s the best story in college basketball history.” Noting he wore the same pair of tennis shoes to each game, he promised to bring them back next year.
“I’ll wear them next year, so we can do it twice.”
Dave Koehn, the play-by-play announcer for Cavalier radio broadcasts, interviewed several players, each one drawing a huge roar from the crowd as they stood up. Each one of them talked about how much they relied on each other – on their teammates and their coaches – to get to this moment.
“I’ve met my best friends for life at this school,” said team captain Jack Salt, who graduates in May. “The bond I have with these guys is something I will carry with me long after basketball.”
Asked how he wanted his year and time at UVA to be remembered, third-year guard Ty Jerome said simply, “I hope people think of me as a good teammate, a good person off the court, and a national champion.”
The players also showed off some hidden talents. Forward Mamadi Diakite, who speaks five languages fluently, taught the crowd what “national champion” sounds like in Malinke, one of several national languages in his home country of Guinea.