Kaitlin Santanna

Hoops Mania is always a sensory overload of sounds and sights. There is a lot to take in, and many things are often missed or are just so terrific that they need to be relived. Here is a collection of memorable sights and sounds from last Friday’s Hoops Mania celebration.

The Sounds

The Goosebumps

The start of each new season is something special. There is always a defining moment that brings a fan out of the doldrums of the offseason to the anticipation of the new year. This Hoops Mania, this moment was created by the fans.

The first goosebump-worthy moment came four minutes after the doors opened and students rushed into the Pavilion for the first time this season. As the band burst out in the fight song, the Pavilion was immediately reenergized and ready for an exciting season of basketball.

Despite the fact that the student section was broken into three parts and put at the top echelons of the Pavilion, the voices of the students were as unified and thunderous as ever. The unison “Let’s Go ‘Nova” chants rang out at the most perfect moments, such as when the lights went down after the men’s basketball team’s memorable entrance.

Mixed in with the traditional cheers, the entrance of Sean Ford, the assistant executive director for the 2008 Olympic men’s basketball team, brought a memorable and boisterous “U-S-A” chant from the rafters.

The Insider’s View

Coach Jay Wright’s commentary during the Blue and White game was one of the most interesting and the most informative portion of the evening. Not only was it entertaining to hear Wright utter gems such as, “Look at Fishey. Look how cute he is,” while Corey Fisher was on the line, but he provided an insider’s look at the team that the fans rarely get the opportunity to hear.

The Overlooked

With all the hoopla surrounding the men’s team’s entrance, one sound bite from Hoops Mania went unnoticed by many fans: Antonio Peña’s entrance song. As he came out from behind the black curtain on stage, a song sounding very similar to Lil’ Wayne and Jay-Z’s “Mr. Carter” played. A more perceptive ear noticed, however, that “Peña” was substituted for “Carter.” The homemade rap was hilarious and brilliant.

The Sights

The SuperNovas

While the white stretch limo and red carpet entrance for the men’s team was not that creative (see Hoops Mania 2005), the “Superstar” routine was priceless. Reynolds was the perfect choice to walk through the “paparazzi” first; his demeanor and style of play is perfectly personified by the dazzle of the red carpet. The clothing choices for the players were a direct reflection of the player’s personalities and introduced them to the Villanova faithful before they even touched a basketball.

An excellent complement to the celebrity scene was the flashing of real cameras from the student sections. Although the dance team provided the players with a dramatized paparazzi setup, the actual flashing of cameras from all around the Pavilion was a reminder of the excitement and awe that these players bring to Villanova’s campus everyday.

The Largest Dance Party

of the Year

Hoops Mania always brings with it great, energizing music to get the Pavilion juiced for a night of cheering and welcoming home the basketball teams. When you put popular dance music and thousands of college students in one setting, it can only mean one thing – a dance party. Small groups of people dancing were first sighted at 6:52 and ran through the basketball’s choreographed number to MIA’s “Paper Planes.” Whether the boogeying occurred on a private scale between a student and a security guard (who, surprisingly enough, obliged the student) or Anderson’s entertaining walk down the second red carpet, the energy could definitely be felt throughout the Pavilion.

The Unusual

In a basketball dunk contest, what better judge could there be than the infamous Cathy Freeman from Dining Services? Not only was it great that this local celebrity was put on the panel of judges, but the huge ovation that she received rivaled that of the players. With the judges cheating off each other in scoring the dunks, the contest was entertaining, and no one – players or trainers – was injured.

The Hopeful

Taylor King was memorable and dynamic throughout Hoops Mania, both on the court and cheering from the sidelines. His enthusiasm in cheering on his teammates for something as trivial as a dunk contest is enough to make fans giddy for his debut on the court himself. His charisma was certainly felt during the Blue and White game, even causing Wright to comment, “Taylor is not shy, and we love that.” King’s presence and skill could only be topped if he were actually eligible to play this season. Waiting is the hardest part, but King certainly appears worth sticking around for.