Augustinian Athletics: Villanova’s Up-and-Down Season

Kevin Cloetingh

Every Villanova fan remembers the 2009 season when the Wildcats went to the Final Four with exciting players like Scottie Reynolds, Dante Cunningham, and Corey Fisher. The 2009 team was consistently ranked among the nation’s top teams, and could consistently compete with those elite teams. That seems like an eternity ago for many ‘Nova fans who were forced to weather the painfully bad 2011-2012 season in which the Cats went 13-19 and finished with an embarrassing 5-13 Big East conference record.

At the beginning of this year’s season, many experts were predicting another poor season for Villanova. With the loss of last season’s star Maalik Wayns, who seemed to keep the Wildcats afloat, many ‘Nova fans couldn’t help but agree with this popular prediction. The season started slow with the Wildcats dropping three straight to Columbia, LaSalle, and Alabama after an encouraging win against Purdue. Then Villanova began picking up steam, winning 8 of their next 9 games, including a win against rival St. Joe’s.

After dropping their next three games against Big East foes, Villanova got ready to play two top five ranked teams in Louisville and Syracuse. Against all  odds, ‘Nova won both games with clutch play by freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, sophomore Darrun Hilliard, and junior James Bell. Arcidiacono led Villanova with 15 points in the thrilling victory over Louisville. Against Syracuse, Hilliard dropped 25 points in addition to 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Arcidiacono hit a clutch three with 2.2 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime and a pair of threes in OT by Bell sent the Cats home with a victory over the Orange.

However, just as ‘Nova fans began to regain confidence, the Wildcats dropped two straight games against Notre Dame and Providence before easily defeating DePaul and USF. On February 12, the Wildcats dropped another Big East conference game to Cincinnati, but rebounded with three big wins against UConn, Rutgers, and Marquette. After two consecutive loses to Seton Hall and Pittsburgh, the tournament dreams of this young team fall on the outcomes of the last regular season game against rival Georgetown and subsequent Big East tournament games. Regardless of how the remainder of the season plays out, the future seems bright for this young team.