U-Va. basketball failed and found redemption. Its story inspired the Stanley Cup champs.

“We used a little bit inspiration from the Virginia basketball workforce, and that hat’s been with us the entire time,” Cooper stated between puffs of his victory cigar. “While you see anyone else do it, you assert, ‘Why no longer us?’ Principally we went from the outhouse to the penthouse. That’s what came about.”

In March 2018, Virginia suffered some of the fantastic upsets in school basketball historical past, turning into the primary No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed (Maryland Baltimore County) within the NCAA males’s match.

Rapid ahead to April 2019, two weeks after the Cavaliers and Trainer Tony Bennett finished their redemption tale through beating Texas Tech to win the nationwide name. The Lightning, which gained the Presidents’ Trophy and tied the NHL document for wins in a standard season with 62, have been swept within the first spherical through the Columbus Blue Jackets. It wasn’t somewhat a No. 1 seed shedding to a No. 16 seed, nevertheless it was once nonetheless a crushing defeat for a workforce that anticipated to win the Stanley Cup after advancing to the Jap Convention finals the 12 months sooner than.

“I received the hat proper when we misplaced [to Columbus],” Cooper informed ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt whilst dressed in his Virginia cap throughout an interview on “SportsCenter.” “I don’t know Virginia, I don’t know Tony Bennett, however they’ve been one thing to hold hope in this entire time. It was once a message that this hat’s been with me the entire time. It’s humorous, as a result of [Lightning forward] Nikita Kucherov simply stated to me, ‘Coop, the place’s that hat?’ He doesn’t know school basketball from the rest. I stated: ‘I’ve were given that hat right here. I’ve had it with me always.’ You wish to have one thing to carry directly to. It was once a in reality tricky time for us ultimate 12 months, and prefer I stated, they did it; why can’t we? And we did it.”

Bennett controlled to show Virginia’s ancient loss to the Retrievers right into a supply of motivation throughout the 2018-19 season, which ended with the Cavaliers slicing down the nets in Minneapolis. Alongside the way in which, he once in a while referenced a quote he learn that proved prophetic: “Should you discover ways to use adversity proper, it could possibly take you to a spot you couldn’t have long gone some other method.” The Lightning, led through Cooper, did the similar. Tampa Bay owned ultimate 12 months’s embarrassment, discovered from it and in the end were given to the place it sought after to move.

“We regarded on the Virginia males’s basketball workforce and what came about to them,” Tampa Bay defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk told NBC after Monday’s win, “and used that as a supply of inspiration.”


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