Category: Villanova (page 1 of 14)

Crying Piccolo Girl Describes Her Week

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Crying Piccolo Girl spoke with about her ridiculous week– from a senior bio piccolo player to a guest on Jimmy Fallon. Her phone died briefly after she was on TV, and once she got connected again, her first thought was to turn to Twitter:

My first reaction was “How did this happen?” but not in a good way. I didn’t really know how to handle it. I knew I had to go into Twitter to formulate some feeling about it. The first thing I saw was all the notifications. I figured the best thing to tweet was my Villanova Wildcats tweet.

But right after I did that I got a Twitter troll. I thought “Oh no, it’s this kind of thing. I’m going to get harassed about it.” And then I started to get worried. But I also got notes of encouragement saying everything would be okay.

Who did you meet behind the scenes of Fallon, and who was your favorite?

Well, I met Jimmy Fallon, all of The Roots, Bubba Watson; all were fantastic. Bubba Watson is so down to Earth, just so nice. He actually asked to take the picture with me! All of The Roots were so welcoming. I was so appreciative of them sitting back and working in this new thing into what they do- they have their own set up, but they were willing to fit me in. A piccolo doesn’t fit with their instrumentation at all, and they learned the fight song and rehearsed it. They were all so kind. Questlove gave me a pair of custom drum sticks. Jimmy Fallon is just as friendly on camera as off camera. He made me feel so comfortable!

Worth is for the Bubba pic alone. A couple other things: 1) Love the instant reaction to check Twitter. 2) One troll?! That’s it? Gotta say– I didn’t think you had it in you, America. Piccolo girl got off lucky. I can’t eat my lunch without getting trolled.

Read the full interview here. Good stuff. Good vibes today here on CB. Good vibes.


Piccolo Girl Was on Jimmy Fallon Playing Her Piccolo with The Roots Last Night

And somehow, my spirit fingers are happy again.

Is it weird that I got a little choked up watching Piccolo Girl play the Villanova fight song with The Roots? I mean, that’s totally what they were going for, right? Like the band on the Titanic– we may have lost this one, but the music never stops. For the blue and white we will fight. The heart willllll go oooooooooon. Don’t let go, Piccolo Girl. Don’t let go. \\//

Side note: Celine Dion looooove how Piccolo Girl was totally unfazed by everything – Fallon, The Roots, Angelo – until Taylor Swift tickets came into play, then she lost her shit. Can’t blame her. That tour’s going sizzle. That tour NEEDS PICCOLO GIRL.

Side note 2: Look at the grace with which Piccolo Girl handles things on Twitter:

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H/T to Grzy


This Is Why Villanova Keeps Getting Upset


So Villanova, a now perennial top 10 team, hasn’t made the second weekend of the tournament since before the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee for the first time. What’s the problem?

I love Jay Wright and the style his teams play– it’s been wildly successful, it’s always entertaining, and it’s led to a 141-61 record since making the Final Four. And yet, no Sweet 16 appearances since. The issue, I think, is the same thing that typically makes Nova so damn good: their freewheeling style of play.

Jay’s teams run a motion offense, which relies more on spacing, talent, guidelines, and, well, motion than it does set plays. Instead of a scripted series of passes and cuts, the motion offense it designed to give players – particularly guards – options to shoot, pass or drive at virtually any moment. Big men and swing players set screens while guards scatter around the perimeter looking to shooting or drive. This is the reason Jay’s teams are always guard-heavy and why the four-guard offense worked so well in 2005-2006– their stellar guards were given the freedom to create.

But that sort of thing is also very predictable and one-dimensional and susceptible to turning sour against athletic teams that clog the lane, if the threes aren’t falling. It’s why Villanova looked awful against Florida in the 2005 [UPDATE: 2006] Elite Eight. It’s why they’ve shot under their season average from three in each of their tournament losses since 2010. It’s why they keep getting upset in March.

This isn’t just as simple as living and dying by the three. Though always below their average, Villanova hovered around 33% on three-pointers in their recent tournament losses. Not great, but often not catastrophic (except for against North Carolina in 2013– 19%). Their shooting woes are typically compounded by the absence of any reliable scoring alternative, even just to break a prolonged drought.

While the Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Kyle Lowry and Mike Nardi team got so much attention in 2005-2006, the little secret among Nova folks is that the 2004-2005 and 2008-2009 teams were better constructed, more balanced, and the more legitimate title contenders.

The 2004-2005 team may very well have not needed a bullshit traveling call in the Sweet 16 to go the other way, as a foul on North Carolina, had Curtis Sumpter not torn his ACL in the second round. He was their best player and added a dimension of NBA-caliber size and athleticism that Jay’s teams often lack. At the time, Villanova was flying under the radar and yet had more talent than the team that earned a one seed a year later.

In 2008-2009, Villanova relied as much on big-ish swingmen Dante Cunningham, Dwayne Anderson and Shane Clark as they did on guards Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and the underachieving Corey Stokes. They crushed UCLA and Duke in the tournament with ferocious defense and a well-balanced attack (and beat Pitt on Reynolds’ run into your hearts). Down the stretch it was the play of Cunningham and Anderson (specifically Cunningham’s proficiency to hit jumpers from the top of the key), and great team defense, not the guard-centric offense, that carried Villanova.

The things everyone talks about when it comes to Villanova – four guards, Scottie Reynolds, goofy-looking white point men – are not necessarily what’s helped to produce Jay’s best teams on the Main Line.

For much of the last two seasons Villanova’s motion offense has operated flawlessly. The team was incredibly deep with a glut of outstanding ballhandlers and better than usual big men. They looked more like the 2009 team than the 2006 team, and that was a good thing. Their passing was crisp, virtually everyone could shoot, and the big men were more than adequate against the B-level competition in this thing vaguely resembling the Big East.* And make no mistake, Villanova was a Final Four caliber team this season. But the prospect of having an off-shooting night against a big, athletic team was always what could derail them. And it’s what happened against NC State.

*That’s not a shot at the conference. This is the best possible Big East that can exist today, but schools like Xavier, Butler and Creighton don’t draw the NBA-level talent as Syracuse and UCONN.

The constant motion and ball movement that looked so effortless all season disappeared on Saturday. It was replaced with standing around, forced shots, and guards dribbling the ball down to a deflated piece of rubber. It reminded me of a particularly ugly loss to St. Joe’s at the Palestra a few years ago during which Scottie Reynolds stood near half court and waved his arms frantically for everyone to get out of his way. Nothing was going right that night and the offense had stalled. Villanova got crushed. To me, that game is the canonical example of what can go wrong with the motion offense when it loses its motion. Things never got that bad against NC State – far from it – but many of the same symptoms were present: Arcidiacono dribbling in circles, everyone jacking up contested threes, big men not quite good enough to finish consistently, lots of standing around. This is what happens when you don’t have set plays to turn to. The motion offense is great when it’s working, but when it’s not, all the practice in the world can’t prepare players for the frustration that comes from an off-shooting night and three huge defenders clogging the lane. Villanova’s lack of a go-to play anywhere near the paint to calm a panicky offense is what, again, doomed them.

The jackass Georgetown grad from the Washington Post was right when he warned against teams in the NCAA Tournament that rely on threes. But again, with Villanova, shooting problems are often compounded by the lack of an adequate post game. Teams will always regress to the mean, so it’s difficult to sustain a tournament run on shooting alone. I have no problem with teams whose strength is the three ball, but the best ones often have complementary facets to their offense, a multi-pronged attack to balance off-shooting nights. You need reliable big men, or, perhaps more specifically, since JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ocehfu were at times dominant this season: balance. Whereas most top seeds require an outlier to lose, Villanova, even as a one seed, seemingly requires a series of outliers just to play to the level of their seed.** They simply don’t have an alternative to driving or jacking up threes, and it’s no surprise that the one year they did – 2009 – they made the Final Four.

**Defined as getting the game where you’re no longer the favorite. Villanova hasn’t even come close to doing this in three appearances as a one or two seed since 2010.

I truly think this may have been Jay’s best team ever, and I honestly believe they were deep and well-rounded enough to make the Sweet 16 with ease. Still, knowing nothing about NC State, I feared playing an inconsistent ACC team, talented enough to earn an at-large bid, this early in the tournament. Think I’m lying? Here are my text exchanges with my friend Matt, also a Nova grad, who appeared on our podcast with Jay Wright last year. From last Sunday night: Continue reading




That about sums it up.

H/T reader Tim


Here Is Your Winning Bracket

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Shut it down. It’s over. You can play Draft Kings or heed the advice or Godfather Locks… or, you can just go off my perfect bracket (or Jim’s less perfect one). The choice is yours.




President Obama Has Villanova in the National Championship

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“Ranked high. Hasn’t gotten as much attention, doesn’t get as much air time. But this I think may be Nova’s year to get to the Finals.” Totally agree, Mr. President.

I’m just disappointed he didn’t make a quip about Jay’s fantastic suits.



Obama bracket and video here.


The NCAA is Partnering with Snapchat…

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… to snap you a picture of Bill Raftery’s onions.

No but for realstons, the Final Four is coming to Snapchat as part of the app’s “Our Story” feature, which aggregates snaps from specific events for public consumption. From The Verge:

Snapchat will monetize the NCAA stories by selling brand sponsorships for each of them. Revenues will reportedly be divided between Snapchat, the sports leagues, and broadcasters showing the games on TV. If all goes to plan, the new addition to Our Story will launch with the Final Four, but future NCAA sporting events will also be featured. Snapchat debuted the Our Story feature last year after trial runs at an EDM music festival and the World Cup. In the latter instance, the company lacked any rights deals for covering the World Cup, but apparently the unsanctioned approach isn’t one Snapchat wants to take any longer. In January, Snapchat unveiled Discover, another new feature that showcases content from news and entertainment partners like CNN, Comedy Central, and ESPN.

Our Story is actually pretty awesome– I first noticed it as part of some PGA event earlier this winter (can’t remember which), when Snapchat curated a bunch of videos of the crowd’s reaction to a hole-in-one. It was oddly captivating. I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to have around for the crazy reactions of, say, Roy Halladay’s Postseason no-hitter.

Expect to see more of this kind of thing. Snapchat is ambitious about being more than the greatest invention ever for horny college kids. They’ve partnered with major outlets and networks like ESPN, CNN and Food as part of their Discover section, which gets crazy advertising rates (upwards of $150 CPM), and now they’re striking deals with sports leagues (yes, the NCAA). Love this idea. It’s only a matter of time before it comes to the NFL and MLB. Speaking of, we need to up our Snapchat and Meerkat games around here. Follow on Snapchat– crossingbroad. Can’t wait to snap my celebration photos from Indy!


Villanova Plays at 6:50 on Thursday


Reportedly on TBS. Here’s the full list of tip times.

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