Mike Nardi Interview

Tim Richer

What is your most memorable moment from your playing career?

It would have to be the Kansas game [in 2005] during my sophomore year at the Wachovia Center. They were the No. 2 team in the country, and we just took it to them. The game put us on the map and showed fans we could play with anyone in the country.

Your 3-point shot against UConn at the Wachovia Center last year was a huge part of a double-digit rally for Villanova; where does that game and moment rank for you?

Looking back at it, it’s up there. For me, that was one of the biggest of my career. It was toward the end of the game and gave us the lead at that moment. It was definitely one of my favorites.

Outside of basketball, what do you enjoy most about attending Villanova University?

I think it is the campus life. It is very close-knit here; everyone knows everybody else. I also like the fashion; everybody likes to dress up and be hip with the high-profile styles. I like to be into that.

How do you measure up with everyone here?

I’m definitely up there.

Are there any other basketball players, past or present, that you model your game after?

I would say [retired pro] Steve Kerr and [current players] Steve Nash and Steve Blake. I really think that I’m similar to Blake, although I feel that I shoot it better than he does. In terms of ability, I feel we’re in the same boat.

What was the main determinant in your decision to come to Villanova out of high school?

Definitely the coaching staff … [current Rutgers Head Coach] Fred Hill, who has left us. [He and I] were really tight. I went to camps with him, watched him speak and established a good relationship. Also, [former player] Marcus Austin was already here from my high school and had nothing but good things to say. Villanova is definitely close to home, which is good for my family. They’ve come to every game I’ve ever played in, so it was special for them to see me come here.

What are the biggest changes you’ve made as a player during your progression from freshman year to senior year?

I think definitely overcoming little obstacles, like injuries. Early on in my career I was kind of worried about playing injured. When I wasn’t 100 percent I didn’t want to be out there, because I wanted to be playing at 100 percent. I learned that at this level there’s always going to be nicks that you can’t worry about. It’s about being a man.

All season you have been praised for being a great leader of this team, especially for a young team, and the development of Scottie Reynolds. When did you become comfortable with this role and stepping up?

It all started last year. Me, Randy [Foye] and Al [Ray] were really the older guys with that team. Even though we had seniors, I was one of the guys that played a lot. I was always vocal. This year, me, Will [Sheridan] and Curtis [Sumpter] got together and told ourselves that it was going to be our team. We had to drill the younger guys as much as possible.

With the way your season ended and the timing of the ankle injury, do you have any regrets about the way it ended or how much you contributed?

Personally, it was on a down note. I couldn’t do anything about the ankle because it came at a bad time. I think that if not for the injury, we would’ve done a lot better than we did. Not being selfish, but I felt like at the time I was playing very well, and we had great chemistry going. If I were healthy, we could’ve done more damage, but we still did a great job of keeping it together and just playing without me.

What’s your outlook for next year’s Wildcats?

I definitely think they’re in good hands. Dante Cunningham has learned a lot, not just about playing but about becoming a leader. Same with Shane Clark. The guys coming in are talented. They need to keep the attitude that, no matter what, they are going to play hard and play with an attitude. I really think they’ll be fine; they might have some troubles early on, but I think they’ll get it together.

When you leave, what will you miss most about Villanova?

Definitely playing at the Pavilion. It is definitely the best gym I have ever played in. I love it here, having a homecourt advantage like this and having my family here. I will also miss my roommates: Will, Curtis and Ross [Condon]. I am going to miss those guys a lot. I’ll miss just the campus because it is very friendly here. Everyone knows each other. You walk around and everyone says “hi.” It is a friendly atmosphere, and I have great relationships.

Which member of the basketball program had the most impact on you during your time here?

I would say Coach Wright. We have been through a lot together – good and bad. He helped me develop into a man, into a person. Also, [Assistant Coach] Pat Chambers. When he joined the staff, it really helped me because he’s just a positive guy. Whenever Coach Wright was on me, Chambers picked me up. Whenever he saw me down, he just picked me up. He was there for me all the time.

What impact can you say that your graduating class had on returning Villanova to national prominence?

We played a large part in it. The class before us with Randy, Al, Curtis, Baker [Dunleavy], Marcus, Chris [Charles], Jay [Fraser], and our class, [we] brought the tradition back. It was a tribute to our fans for sticking with us; we really appreciate them. We left with a legacy that whatever happened, we were going to get it done. Whoever you put us with, whatever players, we’ll find a way to get it done.

What are your immediate plans for the future?

I am currently trying to get an Italian citizenship. I will definitely try to work out for some NBA teams, and I will see how that goes. So, [I’m working on] either playing here in the NBA or playing overseas maybe in Italy or Spain.

When does the process begin for working out for teams in the United States?

The Portsmouth NBA camp is going on right now; I didn’t make that. I am going to work out for teams individually, maybe go for some summer leagues, and we’ll go from there.

How do you get recruited to play for teams overseas?

Representatives for those teams come to NBA summer leagues. I have people that are interested in me already just from seeing me play at Villanova and watching my games. Also, it depends on my agent [undecided], who it is, and how well they are connected. There is a camp at the end of June or July where they invite guys to play and get looked at.

How will you prepare and train for the camps?

I will definitely go back to New Jersey and work out with my high school coach Kevin Boyle. Then whatever agent I go with, maybe I will work out in New York or L.A. Also, I’ll be back at ‘Nova playing with these guys, trying to get some runs in.

What do you think you can bring to the next team that you decide to play with?

I just think my passion for the game is an asset. I love playing and competing. I am the type of guy that’ll never give up, no matter how much we’re down. I’m willing to give to the team and do whatever is best. I’m a guy that knows the game, plays with his head and can do some things with the ball.

What have you learned from your former Villanova teammates about playing basketball in the professional ranks?

I hear that it is fun, the money is great and they are having a great time. They do miss the relationships with teammates and having the road trips. The main thing I hear is finding the right spot for you, not going somewhere just for the money.

What career interests outside of basketball might you want to pursue after your playing days are over?

I could see myself getting into coaching, maybe working on Wall Street or getting into broadcasting. I’m not really sure if I want to get back into basketball afterward because I’ve invested so much of my time there. I’ll keep busy.