Hewitt: Despite Brutality of March, Remember the Human


Graydon Paul/Villanovan Photography

The Wildcats 2022-23 season is one to remember.

Owen Hewitt, Co-Sports Editor

GREENVILLE, S.C. — It appeared as though the 2022-23 Wildcats were going to make history again.   

From down 21 with 9:19 to go in the third to up one with 5:31 to go in the fourth, the ‘Cats went on an extended 27-5 run to claim a lead in a game that felt mostly done at the half. It wouldn’t quite turn out for the ‘Cats. Miami went on a 6-0 run to close things out.  

The ‘Canes keep dancing, and the ‘Cats go home.

That’s the whiplash nature of the NCAA tournament. The bracket is a ruthless and cold-hearted machine that spits out 67 teams whose seasons were great but were ultimately cut short. 

“The end, it’s so quick,” head coach Denise Dillon said. “I think that’s just the feeling we all have right now.” 

On the evening of Sunday, April 2nd, the champions will take their place dead center on a big piece of posterboard somewhere in the underbelly of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, and the 2022-23 season will come to a close. The sun will rise on April 3rd with one team ­– and only one team – crowned as champions.  

Sixty seven teams remain as ink on paper, and one team becomes engraved in gold, forever claiming a spot in history.  

It’s easy and tempting to simplify sports. It’s convenient to just look at the final score. After all, all we really need to know is who won and who scored how many points, right?  

Not really. We’d be doing ourselves a disservice to forget about the other 67 teams and the stories that they hold. Not to mention 

the disservice we’d be doing the athletes who commit so much to playing the game that they love. 

Sitting in Villanova’s post-game press conference after the loss, it was impossible not to recognize the humans behind the stat lines.  

Fifth year forward Maddy Siegrist, junior guard Bella Runyan and Dillon were all choked up at moments after the loss. But the emotion didn’t come out when they were asked about the game plan or the crazy almost-comeback. The tears flowed when they were asked about their experiences playing and coaching alongside each other. 

“Anyone that knows her knows that she’s just an amazing person,” Runyan said about Siegrist. “She comes from an amazing family. She puts all of us first as friends. She doesn’t just see us as teammates. She puts us first as best friends. I’m just so honored I’ve been able to play on the same team as her, learn from her. Sometimes I forget that one of my friends is an All-American.” 

The focus at the press conference was on Siegrist – and rightfully so. She’s a budding superstar whose legacy at Villanova will extend long past her four years on the court.  

“I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to have played here,” Siegrist said after the loss. ”So many good people, and it’s really about the people. Take the basketball part out of it, like the memories and the people are something that I’m going to cherish forever.” 

Siegrist pointed to what made this iteration of Villanova’s team really special. Sure, the team was special on the court (a 30-win season is certainly impressive), but it became obvious when talking to the women that they valued each other as far more than teammates. 

“This team, any opportunity I get to talk about them I’ll take because they’re so special,” Dillon said. “They’re extremely special.” 

In the wake of the loss, the team will have to confront how it moves forward. It’ll be without Siegrist, the nation’s leading scorer. This obviously draws some basketball-related concern, but Dillon would be the first person to tell you that the impact that Siegrist had on the team goes far beyond basketball. 

“The numbers are going to be there forever, which is so special,” Dillon said. “I’ll tell you, when you leave your mark on people as Maddy did, there’s nothing greater. It’s a question you can ask all student-athletes, I think you ask yourself as a coach, just as a person in general: How do you want to be remembered? When her teammates are going to say, ‘She’s a great friend, she was a lot of fun.’ That’s better. They’re going to always start with that, and then they’re going to be like, ‘Yeah, you know what, she was a really good basketball player.’” 

There’s a temptation we have as humans to try and prolong something we deem to be special for as long as we can. It’s a natural grasp for power over a world that moves along at its own pace, with little to no regard for how anyone feels about anything. If we can manage to let go of this instinct, we are able to recognize how truly special something is. Because intrinsic is what allows us to recognize something as truly remarkable is the recognition that whatever it is we are identifying will end.  

We all knew that the 2022-23 Villanova basketball season was going to end eventually. Even if it had ended on that April 2nd date, we knew that there would come a time when this team would become the past. 

The loss to Miami will fade in time. What this team has done, on the court and off, will not. The ‘22-’23 ‘Cats will have influence on the program for years to come.