‘Cats need ‘Miracle’ next year

Philip Consuegra

This past Spring Break, I didn’t go to Cancun, sunny Florida, or the Bahamas. I went home to be with my parents and friends in Atlanta. It was good to be home for a number of reasons, but what I think I’ll remember most was my final day there. After watching the Villanova men’s basketball team blow a halftime lead and turn the ball over 15 times en route to a 14-15 finish the regular season, I saw a movie with my mother and father that would change my entire outlook on sports.

The movie of which I speak stars Kurt Russell in the story of one of the greatest sports moments of all time. The movie “Miracle” is, no doubt, a movie that all sports fans should see, young and old.

Americans all over the nation should watch the movie and be proud of what 20 teenagers (college students who were our age at the time) did for our country’s spirit. Those who lived through that period and those who wished they did will appreciate the message that “Miracle” possesses.

The movie – and the time – was about much more than one or two hockey games. It was about the growth of a team not of All-Stars, but of players who played together impeccably. It wasn’t about money, fame, or prestige. It was about love, a love for a sport and the people who enjoy playing it. In my humble yet vocal opinion, every athlete, coach, athletic director and fan should see this movie, especially one group in particular.

All season long, the ‘Nova men were inconsistent. They came off amazing games only to flounder the next. They averaged 17 turnovers per game for the season, took poor shots and lost 15 games, two of them against lowly West Virginia and Miami. A disappointing season will be capped off by a probable NIT snub, and the basketball gods wouldn’t have it any other way.

After a season which started out so promising, a year which was heralded the year where the team would finally break the four-year streak of dance-less basketball, I have only this to offer Jay Wright and the men’s basketball team: see “Miracle.” See the message it sends to you. Watch it as a team. Let it sink in.

What is the message, you ask? Well, there are two main answers to that question. One message is teamwork.

Working together, finding opportunities and openings instead of trying to create one themselves. Taking shots and being creative when the time is right, not when they’re trailing by three or four. Understanding that although they may not be the best team, they were willing to become the most prepared.

The second message, which may be the largest for this Villanova team, is discipline. Watch and see how Herb Brooks drove his boys. Watch how he punished miscues or selfishness. Watch how he acted when someone did something dumb. Watch how he gained respect through discipline, and look at the outcome. Not only did the team get the message, but it beat the greatest team to ever play the game of hockey on the way to Olympic Gold.

Another aspect of the movie that I chuckled at is an excuse that we are all too familiar with here at ‘Nova: youth. Both Brooks and Wright have used the same excuse multiple times: “We’re young, we’re improving.” The only differences are that Wright has said it for a longer period of time and that he has said the last part among regression, not progression.

After seven months together, Team USA, a team with little talent, was able to come together and give pride to their country and its people.

After a year and half together, the Wildcats haven’t gone anywhere. In fact, they’ve taken a step back. I don’t know about the rest of’Nova Nation, but taking steps backward is just not going to cut it on this campus. We go to watch wins and get tournament berths.

So let’s talk about growth and improvement. Let’s see where we were last year, and where we are this year. Well, last year the ‘Cats went on a 12-game win streak, upset UConn and barely lost to Pittsburgh with the very same players we had this year. We beat Providence once and then lost a heartbreaker to the Friars and made other teams in the Big East, like Rutgers, look childish. All of this ended with a berth in the NIT, which was acceptable, knowing that half of our team were freshmen.

But this year, none of the above happened. We lost to UConn in a heartbreaker, we blew a halftime lead to Pittsburgh with our entire roster, were embarrassed by Providence on our “home” floor by 26 points, and lost to Rutgers in the Pavilion. To top it all off, this year’s senior class is only the second to never see an NCAA Tournament. That is one sad thought.

What was supposed to be a season of progress and taking one more step forward has become a season of excuses and miscues. The team that was supposed to break the four-year curse of the Big Dance is once again watching March Madness from their comfortable sofas and beds.

Next season, I hope the Basketball Club has a new theme on the back of its t-shirt. It should say, “No Excuses.” Why? Because there are no more injuries. There are no more suspensions and there is no more youth. Juniors are not young. Juniors who have played for two seasons aren’t young and inexperienced. There is nothing to blame next season on, and there are very few things to blame for this one.

All I know is that this year’s juniors don’t want to be – and better not be, for the program’s sake – the third class in school history never to see a tournament.