Understanding Villanova’s Anti-Arcidiacono Sentiment

Sofia Krzewicki, Staff Writer

It is no secret that Villanova University’s men’s basketball team has been off to a shaky start this season. With the loss of familiar favorites like Colin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and beloved coach Jay Wright, who led the team to the Final Four in 2022, the team is in a transitional period. 

The frustration with the men’s basketball team’s performance is felt all over campus. Students have taken their qualms to social media platforms such as Instagram and YikYak, an anonymous social media app popular among college students. Yet much of the frustration is frequently aimed at Chris Arcidiacono, senior guard and younger brother of Ryan Arcidiacono, former Villanova men’s basketball player and current guard on the New York Knicks. 

From shouts of disapproval at home games to snarky remarks on YikYak to circulating jokes about him being “Nova’s ‘nepotism baby,’” Arcidiacono is branded as one of the problems with Villanova men’s basketball and one of the reasons for the series of devastating losses early in the season.

Some students believe that he is only receiving playing time for his famous last name and think other members on the team should receive more time on the court. 

“If Chris Arch starts today, I’m going to storm the court,” one YikYak user wrote.

Indeed, what began as occasional, legitimate criticism has turned into a trend of wrongful scapegoating. Arcidiacono is not celebrated for the hard work and dedication that he brings to the court. Instead, he is ridiculed for it. 

Arcidiacono is a key player on the men’s basketball team. Like all Villanova sports, men’s basketball embodies the values of its campus: community and cooperation. Arcidiacono is a team player and Villanova’s men’s basketball team has always been about team players. 

“When people see a player not scoring, they say, ‘He sucks!’” one first-year commented, touching on the anti-Arcidiacono sentiment on campus. “[Our] frustration is aimed at the wrong people.”

As a point guard, Arcidiacono is supposed to be facilitating the ball and getting assists, not turning the ball over to the other team. And he does that, averaging the fewest turnovers of all the players in the starting lineup. In theory, every player in basketball should actively look for a chance to shoot, but Arcidiacono steps out of the spotlight and works behind the scenes to set up scoring opportunities for others, like Eric Dixon or Caleb Daniels. 

On Dec. 7 2022, when Villanova played UPenn at the Finneran Pavilion, one of “The Nation” student crowd facilitators spread the word about not yelling “boo” when Arcidiacono’s name was called during the line-up before the start of the game. There has been an increase in cheers for specific players instead of cheers for the team as a unit, when in reality, a group of individuals work together to facilitate a play, score a point and win the game. 

When a student jokingly protested, the crowd facilitator added, “If he wears our jersey, we cheer for him.”

That is the spirit of Villanova University and certainly that of the men’s basketball team. It is something that we should begin to embrace again, because that spirit of community and collaboration will drive us forward and toward victory.