Larry Flynn

On a basketball court, 4.7 seconds is longer than it sounds. It’s enough to take the ball from coast-to-coast and get a good look at the rim.

But a basketball play is usually a basketball play – nothing more, nothing less. Yet, somehow, the final 4.7 seconds of Villanova’s 77-74 win over North Carolina perfectly embodied four of the most notable personalities on the 2016 National Champion Wildcats. 

The play before Kris Jenkins’ shot, we all know what happened. Marcus Paige’s ridiculous double-pump three-point attempt tied the game at 74. Jay Wright called time-out. 

What most fans may not have seen, however, was the pool of sweat that Daniel Ochefu left behind as he dove to steal the ball away from Paige. 

As both teams returned to the court, a young ball-boy wrestled with the wet spot on the floor. Ochefu, noticing the kid’s struggle, took the mop from the boy and began to clean up his own mess. 

“I knew the little kid was having a hard time,” Ochefu said. “I’m the one that dove, so I left a big wet spot on the floor. So I made sure the floor was dry. Thank God we didn’t slip.”

For Ochefu, the gentle giant, this act of kindness was the perfect final gesture before he stepped on the court for the final 4.7 seconds of his career. 

For Ochefu, the blue-collar workhorse who developed his talented post repertoire from scratch, mopping the floor made too much sense. 

The senior captain would later set a pick. But not without doing the dirty work, and doing it with a smile, first. 

Only two players would touch the ball in the final 4.7 seconds of regulation Monday night. The first to handle the ball inbounds was Ryan Arcidiacono. 

Six dribbles. A crossover. An assist.

It takes trust for any player, let alone a late-game specialist like Arcidiacono, to pass the ball to a teammate when a game is on the line. But it wasn’t so hard for the other senior captain, who prioritizes winning above all else. 

“Every kid dreams about that shot,” Arcidiacono said. “I wanted that shot, but I had confidence in my teammates.”

As a child, Arcidiacono dreamed he’d nail a buzzer-beater to win the National Championship, but he had to sacrifice this individual aspiration in order to fulfill his life-long dream of winning a National Championship.

His confidence in his teammate paid off. And his teammates and coach took notice.

“For a senior to get the ball and make the right play and not try to shoot the ball in double coverage shows a lot about him and what he’s about and how he’s all about winning,” Jenkins said. 

Even Arcidiacono’s fellow team captain expected and wanted the team’s most clutch performer to take the shot. 

“I remember in the huddle, Coach was talking, and he looked at me and we knew what the play was,” Ochefu said. “I looked to [Arcidiacono] and I just mouthed, ‘shoot it.’ [Arcidiacono], after the game came up to me and was like, ‘I had faith in my teammates.’ The rest is history.”

“[Arcidiacono] knows the play is to put people in positions where the man with the ball knows exactly where everybody’s going to be, and then you trust,” Wright said. “You have to have a guy that you trust to make the right decision, not be selfish, want to be the star himself. And that’s Ryan.”

For Arcidiacono, who put winning above personal accolated for 144 games, deferring to a teammate was the perfect end to a selfless career.

Arcidiacono has confidence in others. Kris Jenkins has confidence in himself.

The man on the receiving end of Arcidiacono’s pass has big-game swagger unlike any other college basketball player. He buried a shot from the logo against Miami in the Sweet Sixteen. He attempted 6.5 three-pointers per game. 

In other words, all you need to know about Jenkins is that he emulates Kobe Bryant. Jenkins, a new-born legend, and Bryant, an age-old relic, both have a killer instinct. A boldness that only the most clutch shooters of all-time possess. 

In other words, shoot ‘em up, sleep in the streets.

“I think every shot is going in,” Jenkins said. “This was no different.”

Jenkins’ shot was in perfect rhythm, which only adds to a shooters confidence. Left foot first, right foot slightly in front of the left – it’s the perfect base to levitate and, hopefully, tickle the twine.

“Every time I one-two step, you know it’s going up,” Jenkins said. “So that one was going up.”

Jenkins’ matter-of-fact attitude matched the swagger “Big Smoove” has carried on his shoulders all season long. As Arcidiacono dribbled the ball past half-court, all he could hear was Jenkins trailing the play, barking, “Arch! Arch! Arch!”

For Jenkins, who has the highest confidence in Villanova history, it was clear to Coach Wright that there was only one player who could take, and make, the final shot.

There is only one man in the world who has more confidence in Jenkins than Jenkins himself, and that’s Jay Wright.

The mastermind behind the whole operation, a day removed from being named Naismith Coach of the Year, has a knack for orchestrating miracle last-second opportunities for his team. The final play Monday night was no different – he gave the ball to his most confident ball-handler, used the shooting of Josh Hart and Phil Booth as decoys, and let Jenkins inbound the ball in order to use his momentum to shoot a three-pointer in-rhythm. 

Wright watched the play unfold. And he liked what he saw. It was obvious. With a blank stare, Wright paced up and down the court, saying, “bang,” right as the ball left Jenkins’ hands. When Jenkins made the shot, Wright remained perfectly poised. It was as if he knew, the minute Jenkins inbounded the basketball 94 feet away, that he was going to be the coach of the National Champions.

“I was really just in coaching mode,” Wright explains. 

No matter what “mode” he was in, Wright’s stoic reaction could mean only one thing – confidence. 

For Wright, who had put hours into grooming his team for this very moment, he had to react the way he did. He trusted his players to execute a play they had practiced hundreds of times in practice.

For the kind Ochefu, for the selfless Arcidiacono, for the confident Jenkins, and for the trusting Wright, the final 4.7 seconds of the National Championship game symbolized each individual’s strengths and the collective attitude of Villanova basketball.