Student Managers: Backbone of the Basketball Team



Cassie McHugh Co-Editor-in-Chief

Brunson. Bridges. Paschall. Divincenzo. Pinone.

Wait, what?

You might not recognize Steve Pinone’s name compared to those of Villanova’s star players, but make no mistake, he played a key role in helping the team up onto that Championship podium. 

Pinone is one of a group of student managers for the men’s basketball team, a role that often goes uncelebrated, but is an essential component of the program’s success.

Many of the managers’ day-to-day responsibilities are unglamorous. They handle the teams’ laundry and equipment, assist with preparation for practices, and help to run special events like Hoops Mania and the team’s end-of-year banquet. Still, the behind the scenes efforts and hard work pay off.

“The most rewarding part of the job is being a part of the journey of a season,” Pinone said. “I’ve always said basketball is a great metaphor for life. Over the course of the season there are high points, low points and a lot in between. People don’t realize just how hard it is to accomplish what this program has in recent years and so for me, when I see our guys celebrating and cutting down the nets, knowing all the time and effort they put into getting to that point is just incredibly rewarding.”

For Pinone, his dedication to the program runs deep. Both his father and uncle played on the team, and his father has continued to work in various roles within the program.

“I grew up with a great love for this university and the basketball program,” he said. “I also recognize just how special the program is to many in our community and having a small role in something like that just really resonated with me.”

The managers work closely with the coaching and operations staffs, including head coach Jay Wright. Pinone says interacting with the acclaimed coach is every bit as influential as you would expect.

“Coach Wright is just one of those people who you know is going to have a major impact on your life long after you leave the university,” Pinone said. “He’s the type of person that is able to see what your highest potential and demand it from you.”

Wright’s commitment to a humble and hungry attitude is a guiding force for the players and staff alike, even in the bright spotlight of March Madness.

“Our players and coaches just look at each round in the tournament as nothing more than our next game and prepare as they have all year with the goal of playing 40 minutes of Villanova basketball,” Pinone said. “For our staff of managers, we try to keep that same mentality. We are there to do our job, handle our responsibilities and support our players and staff as if it was any other game.”

That’s not to say the team’s successes go uncelebrated.

“There isn’t a day I walk into that facility where I don’t appreciate just how special the run the program is currently on has been,” Pinone said. “I can honestly say it’s all attributable to a combination of talented players who have both the hunger to win and the humility to buy into a system of basketball concepts and principles that allows them to do so.”

On Monday night, Pinone was courtside as the clock expired and Villanova became National Champions for the second time in three seasons. The experience isn’t one he’ll soon forget.

“I think for all of us at Villanova right now, ten, twenty years from now, people will say to us, ‘Wow, you were a student during the greatest run of a college basketball team in NCAA history,’” Pinone said. “It’s an amazing blessing.”