Not as widely recognized was the amazing leadership Coach Wright and senior co-captain Daniel Ochefu provided by being humble and assertive together at half time of the game.
A late spurt propelled North Carolina to a 39–34 lead half time lead. When Coach Wright arrived at the locker room to give his half time talk, he was greeted by an assertive Daniel Ochefu. In his book Attitude, Coach Wright described what happened:
"As I approached the assistant coaches on this night, I was startled at the sight of our senior captain, Daniel Ochefu, breaking away from the rest of the team to approach me. I could tell he had something on his mind. He looked at me directly, and with intensity in his eyes said: "Coach, I got this." With twenty minutes left to play in his four-year career, Daniel was pleading with me to let him address his teammates—without the coaches present—before I did. This was not a routine request."
Coach Wright had the humility to agree to Daniel's request. Daniel entered the locker room. The door closed behind him. He galvanized the team with some very direct communication finishing up on a positive note: "We aren't going down this way. We've come this far. Let's finish this playing together, our way!" He had been assertive.
Villanova played better but North Carolina rallied and tied the game with 4.7 seconds left. As Villanova came back on the court for the final play there was a delay. Coach Wright describes what followed:
"Arch noticed there was still moisture on the floor, and he asked the official to have a ball boy mop it up. Daniel was standing nearby as the young man began mopping. When he finished, Daniel asked to borrow the mop. For the next twenty seconds, the 6'11" Ochefu mopped the floor; painstakingly making sure every drop of sweat was dried. There was a good reason he wanted that area dry: It was exactly where he planned to set a screen to spring Arch loose from his defender."
The assertive Daniel also had the humility to perform thorough janitorial work in front of 74,340 anxious spectators. Daniel set the screen, Arch got free and passed, Kris made the shot and Villanova won the Championship.
Great leaders are humble enough to listen and assertive enough to act. Great people are humble enough to appreciate their blessings and assertive enough to help others less fortunate.