Mania Madness



Larry Flynn

Kate Reiss/The Villanovan

It was “lit,” as the college kids say today.Rings, banners, a mediocre rapper who used to be cool five years ago — it was the perfect recipe for a fun-filled night at Hoops Mania 2K16. 

Diamonds are forever 

‘Cats put on that brand-new bling, that can only mean one thing. The rings distributed to the nine returning players and legendary coach Rollie Massimino signaled the official recognition the Wildcats had waited seven months to receive. 

The ring is giant, bigger than you’d imagine (and then multiply that by three). As the players received their rings, they smiled at the new jewelry in wonder. 

It’s strange, isn’t it, that the rings are so flashy? Shouldn’t the Wildcats’ no-flair style of basketball be rewarded with a pat on the back and an “attitude point” or two? Shouldn’t the rings be matte instead of glossy? 

Nope. This was the night to celebrate. This was the time to go all out and say, screw it, we’re the bleeping champs. Give us the biggest ring you’ve got. 

When fabric is more than just fabric 

Three is a significant number for Villanova. After all, it was a three-point shot which gave the ‘Cats a three-point victory. 

Likewise, ‘Nova unveiled three banners Friday night: Big East Regular Season Champs (booooring), a new 1985 National Championship banner (kinda neat), and the 2016 National Championship banner (thunderous roar of applause). 

Who ever knew that banners could mean so much? It’s a piece of cloth, for cryin’ out loud, and yet thousands of Villanova fans got goosebumps remembering what it symbolized. It symbolized the greatest moment in NCAA Tournament history. It symbolized 14 brothers, bound together by their sweat and high-fives. It symbolized “attitude.” 

Maybe, just maybe, I felt my eyes tear up a little bit. And if yours did too, that’s okay. 

Rollie Massimino is every Villanova girl’s favorite 

I did not know this. If you rank the crowd’s reaction to each Villanova personality’s introduction it goes in this order: Arcidiacono, Wright, Massimino… then title hero Kris Jenkins and preseason Big East Player of the Year Josh Hart. 

Seriously, the most touching moment of the evening came in the only moment when Wright began to tear up. He shared the story of when Massimino gave him a 1985 championship ring and now Wright was able to return the favor and give “Daddy Mass” a ring. He always does the Wright thing. 

Look what The Chef cooked up 

The best moment of the night—bar none: Daniel Ochefu wasn’t able to attend Hoops Mania since he is busy playing for the Washington Wizards (congrats, Big Guy), but he was able to make a pre-recorded video appearance where he thanked everyone for coming out to celebrate the title. 

Then, he introduced Ryan Arcidiacono and emulated the thousands of girls in the stands who were, you guessed it, screaming at the most handsome guy (I’m told) of the National Champions. Classic D.O. We miss you. 

Bigger than hoops 

Arcidiacono and Ochefu passed the torch to a thoughtful triad of seniors. Led by Reynolds, Jenkins and Hart, the Wildcats passed along a message of unity and quoted civil rights activists in the name of social justice. 

“Our lives matter,” said Reynolds. “We are one country under God. We are one Villanova community.” 

People choose to use their celebrity status in different ways. Some choose foolishness over meaningfulness. Not the ‘Cats. This group of young men used their platform as celebrities on campus to share a message about their beliefs. 

What I liked most about the social justice message? It was thoughtful. It was carefully planned by taking the time to both film video and research famous quotes on social justice. They didn’t have to do this. They wanted to do this. And they put in the effort and energy into a subject they care about. Bravo, Darryl and Co., Bravo. 

Dylan Painter dancing 

Mikal Bridges is the best dancer on the team, let’s be real. Big Smoove is kinda, well, smoove. Painter . . . 

Don’t take it personally, freshman. It’s just some freshmen media hazing. We’ll check back in on your dance moves when you’re a senior averaging a double-double and blocking two shots a game. 

Quick basketball takes 

Let’s talk about Donte DiVincenzo. He looked like one of the best players on the court in the mini-scrimmage. Yes, he hit two threes including the game winner. But he looked comfortable. He played like he thought he was the best player on the court. That’s what a redshirt year can do to kids —confidence. Let’s hope the same happens for Omari Spellman. 

Eric Paschall is a beast. Sure, he missed all the dunks that mattered in the dunk-contest, but that dunk he threw down effortlessly after the buzzer sounded was NUTS. Hop on the bandwagon before it’s all sold out. 

Wiz Khalifa… yawn 

Okay, let me put on my columnist hat. It’s absurd that the National Champions get a washed up rapper whose primary message in his lyrics is (his words, not mine), “go smoke some weed.” I was sitting a few feet from Omari Spellman. He was scrolling through Twitter while Wiz was performing . . . 

Chance the Rapper would’ve brought the house down. His optimism is infectious in lines like “How great is our God,” “Think about it, I woke up this morning,” and “I don’t believe in kings, believe in the kingdom.” It would’ve been a perfect celebratory send-off for the student body and a team trying to repeat. A whole lot better than, “Go smoke some weed.” 

Speaking of repeating… 

Let’s do it again.