MBB SPECIAL: The sights and sounds of the latest Holy War

Kyle Scudilla

The Villanova-St. Joseph’s game was the hottest ticket on campus, and since only so many seats were available, here’s the rundown of the arena experience that night, as seen from the press seats:

1st HALF

20:00: The first shots fired in the “The Holy War” are chants of “safety school” by ‘Nova Nation, an undetermined St. Joe’s chant and a “we can’t hear you” reply. By the way, they’re really pushing the “6-foot” distinction for a couple of these St. Joe’s players. If my doctor were a basketball coach, I feel like I would have been measured at 6-foot-4 in the sixth grade.

19:40 – Sheridan gets the scoring started with his patented baseline J.

19:02 – Here’s to hoping that the Villanova student section is inspired by Penn’s student section, which chanted “‘Nova Rejects” when the Hawks visited the Palestra earlier in the season.

18:32 – The fans make enough noise and a backcourt violation is finally called on St. Joe’s after a big delay. Don’t you love when that happens?

17:15 – Good to see the St. Joe’s fans got the seats right where the shadow casts in the north-side stands. Battling the enemy is all about having a plan.

15:59 – Even the fan participants are rounding into midseason form. The half-court shots are getting much closer than some of the absolute bricks we’ve seen earlier in the season.

14:56 – As tempted as I am to drop a Rex Grossman reference after watching St. Joe’s throw a couple of intercepted passes, I’m not going to do that. Though they are reminding me a lot of Eli Manning right now. Sorry, Giants fans.

14:03 – A “St. Joe’s sucks” chant comes from the home crowd after a Hawks time out stops the game at 11-4, Villanova. Having only hit one shot all game, St. Joe’s student section doesn’t have much of a cross-examination prepared for ‘Nova Nation’s “testimony.”

13:30 – Pat Calathes, feeling an 8-inch height advantage over Nardi isn’t enough, dishes on the fast break. Just as some say youth is wasted on the young, once again, height is wasted on the tall …

13:15 – We have an early Bilal sighting, and he scores on cue.

11:33 – Another delayed call on a travel, thanks to the fans expressing some umbrage at a zebra’s original non-call.

9:55 – Credit Ahmad Nivins with an assist for Villanova, as he tipped a Dante Cunningham dunk into the hoop.

8:02 – I don’t know how much I’d pay to see the Hawk trip and face plant at right at half court right now, but it’s probably an amount that’s higher than my current bank balance. Speaking of which, when will St. Joe’s find something better than a shredded Oriental rug and a pair of Nikes for its Hawk to wear?

7:31 – Kingpin from Marvel Comics fame is at the Pavilion, showing off his recent South Beach diet stint. Oh, wait, that’s just Phil Martelli.

6:57 – Sumpter and the Wildcats are making it look really easy to get to the hoop right now. I’ll bet St. Joe’s fans wished high school was this simple.

5:46 – Calathes gets the Rob Kurz treatment with a rousing “doofus” chant in his direction.

5:10 – You would swear St. Joe’s was shooting free throws on carnival rim right now. Ironically, the Hawk waves his arms in the shape of a big zero.

3:31 – The Wildcat looks like he had his, um, “legs” shrunk in the washing machine this week.

2:24 – I can’t see what Calathes’ tattoo says. Wait a second … yep, it says “BSB 4eva.” Come on, ‘Nova Nation, don’t be so hard on the guy.

0:03 – A last minute alley-oop spares St. Joseph’s the embarrassment of not cracking 20 in the first half.

0:01 – The Hawk is cheating! He had his left arm on one of the St. Joe’s players in the huddle. Now the only thing it had going for it in the world of mascots is done. The Hawk may not be dead, but it looks like he’s getting there, suffering from a terrible case of arthritis along the way.

2nd HALF

20:00 – If anyone told me the score would be 29-20 at the half, well, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. It’s another battle of attrition in the latest installment of “The Holy War.”

17:24 – Sumpter catches the over-the-shoulder TD from Nardi and nails the two-point conversion.

16:45 – Curtis came very close to “posterizing” the entire Hawks’ defense.

16:18 – Respect goes out to Shane and Reggie diving to the floor. They’re two Philly guys who know what this game is all about.

15:46 – Bilal is really giving the ‘Cats a nice spark off the bench. Fans have to like the depth this team is finding down the stretch.

12:50 – Amazing sequence right there, as Bilal makes an impossible save and Shane Clark punctuates it with a big slam.

12:49 – Some historical perspective is given to the “St. Joe’s sucks” chant, as the Chili’s trivia question lets the whole building know that the Wildcats have beaten the Hawks 40 times in 63 games. Meanwhile, two St. Joe’s fans standing near the ‘Nova student section are getting booed almost as loudly as Ashlee Simpson did at the Orange Bowl a couple of years ago.

11:55 – The dance team comes out to Nelly’s “Heart of a Champion,” which samples the NBA on NBC’s old theme, by far the greatest TV sports theme song of all time.

11:11 – Scottie just ruined D.J. Rivera’s day, turning his attempt at the highlight reel into a date with some wooden floor boards.

10:00 – 29 points. 30 minutes. Paying homage to Dennis Miller, I’d have to say the St. Joe’s offense has been quieter tonight than a shy librarian with laryngitis, babe.

8:51 – An old classic makes its return to the Pavilion, as St. Joseph’s Head Coach Uncle Fester gets hit with a “Sit down, shut up” chant.

8:03 – St. Joe’s frontline gets front row seats to the “Bump and Nards” show, as Sheridan throws down a two-handed slamma-jamma off the feed from Nardi.

7:45 – The Wildcats’ defensive ability to quickly double and rotate to create trap situations in the corners and along the sidelines is invoking some pretty good memories from last year.

7:36 – The mop kid could have totally taken the Hawk out right there. Head in the game, son, you’ve got to be in it to win it. And yes, here is the anticipated “‘Nova Rejects” chant. I knew they had creativity beyond “Let’s go ‘Nova in them.”

6:46 ­- Ironically, the “‘Nova Rejects” chant is followed up with Sumpter and Shane Clark blocking three shots in the span of a minute.

4:55 ­- With ‘Nova up by double-digits and the Hawks not scoring, it’s getting so out of hand, the St. Joe’s fans may actually head to the exits before some of Villanova’s season-ticket holders.

3:51 – Shane Clark hits Villanova’s second 3-pointer of the evening, over 30 minutes after the first one. Despite shooting 1-for-20 (5 percent) at one point from 3-point range, Villanova still has a comfortable lead.

3:37 – Our season-ticket holders let us down again … leaving with over three-and-a-half minutes remaining. Time to warm up the Benz, I guess …

3:19 – Rivera hip-checks a grade schooler seated court side, but the youngster shakes it off with no sweat.

2:22 – “The Hawk is dead” fills the Pavilion air. St. Joe’s counters with the usual “The Hawk will never die.” I think we can all agree that if the vital status of your mascot has been in question for decades, it’s about time to put it to rest.

2:05 – Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye. That guy made a killing off that song by ensuring that there were just three-and-a-half words in the chorus.

1:40 -“We want Ross” coming from the crowd now. C’mon, Jay, give the people what they want.

55 seconds – Salt in the Hawk’s wounds, as Nardi hits a three and Rivera air-balls one.

42 seconds – Sinead O’Connor calls another time out for St. Joe’s, delaying the inevitable, much to the chagrin of the fans. Meanwhile, Ross, the people’s champion, enters the game, matching up with 5-foot-11 Pete Kathopoulis.

14.8 seconds – Less than 15 seconds remain until St. Joe’s gets held under 40.

0:00 – 39 points ends up being the lowest St. Joseph’s point-total in a Big Five game since 1939, when Villanova held them to eight points. While the defense tonight wasn’t that dominant, I think they can be graded on a curve, given the invention of that whole shot clock thing.

Staff reporter Carolyn Brown also contributed to this article.