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Homecoming Wrap-up

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Homecoming weekend is a big one for two sports at Villanova, football in the middle of its season, and basketball is just kicking off the 2011-12 campaign. It is an opportunity for Villanova alums to get together, remember the old times, and check out some of the athletes who will be representing the school in the coming year.

Sadly, the weekend's excitement was marred on Saturday night by the death of 2010 Alumna Lauryn Ossola, who was struck by a car while crossing Lancaster Avenue near Erin Pub. Please keep Lauryn and her family in your prayers.

As usual, the weekend opened at Villanova with Hoops Mania, Villanova's version of Midnight Madness, but a week later and a few hours earlier. Here is what we saw:

  • The event opened with a promotional video for Villanova football, showing highlights and encouraging fans to come out to the last three home games.
  • The football players were then brought out onto the court to a pretty big round of applause (but clearly not as much as Jay Wright or his team got), and they thanked the assembled students and alums for their support and asked them to come out to the game on Saturday.
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  • After the football team left the court, DJ 007 introduced a Villanova Basketball alumnus: Will Sheridan, who performed a song from his new LP:
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  • Next up were introductions for the women's basketball team. They got all of the same pomp and circumstance you expect the Men's team to get. That's either UConn's influence on the Big East or Title IX in action, but the crowd ate it up. Two of the women did the John Wall dance as they walked out though – bad form.
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  • Then, out marched a group of ROTC cadets in uniform, lining up on the court.
  • The cadets were followed by another group of seeming cadets, in the same uniforms, but wearing sneakers — it was the basketball team. They lined up with the ROTC kids and the crowd chanted "USA! USA!" The ROTC kids and basketball players then proceeded to face the crowd and salute.
  • Jay Wright made his entrance, also in uniform, got his team lined up and then ran them through some quick drills like he was a drill sergeant.
  • The dance team then took the court, also wearing camoflage, and performed a number with the basketball team that centered on the "shuffle" dance made famous by LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."
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  • Jay Wright then introduced the former Wildcats who were in attendance, that included coaches Doug West and Baker Dunleavy, NBA players Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Malik Allen, and Dante Cunningham, guys like Allen Ray and, of course, Will Sheridan.
  • Afterward, the official Men's Basketball introductions were made and the scrimmage began. They men played hard and really went at it in the short-time game. Dominic Cheek did not play (he is nursing a minor hamstring pull), which meant more action for walk-ons Dallas Ouano and Nick McMahon. Ouano was wearing a knee brace, but didn't seem to be much affected by his recent surgery.
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  • At half-time of the scrimmage, Jay Wright ran an official three-point shooting competition. There were teams consisting of a football player, a women's basketball player and a men's basketball player. Joe Price and Earnest Pettway were two of the football players featured, and were two of the top targets on Saturday afternoon. Ash Yacoubou's team ultimately won the competition over Ty Johnson's team.

  • The scrimmage resumed afterward and it was more of the same tough play as Villanova's team battled each other.
  • After the scrimmage it was time for the slam dunk contest. The guest judges were the alumni from the 2005-06 team that really started Jay Wright's streak of NCAA appearances at Villanova: Kyle Lowry, Allan Ray, Randy Foye and Dante Cunningham. The participants were Mo Sutton, James Bell, Markus Kennedy and Mouph Yarou.
  • Sutton went first and got some healthy scores from the judges. Nobody else actually completed a dunk, however, essentially handing Sutton the win.
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  • After the Dunk Contest, it was time for the "surprise" musical guest, but it wasn't much of a surprise if you followed VUhoops and myself on Twitter — Villanova was able to get superstar, Drake, to perform at Hoops Mania. Drake hammed it up for the crowd who seemed to absolutely love his appearance. Students streamed out onto the court to get a closer view and some basketball players and alums were spotted in the middle of that crowd too. Drake played all of his big hits and then promised to come back to Nova and do a proper concert. (h/t Fact on Villanova Sports for the video).

Drake put on Kyle Lowry's jersey and a Villanova snapback cap

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  • Prospects in attendance at Hoops Mania reportedly included: Daniel Ochefu (F/C - 2012, committed), Ryan Arcidiacono (PG - 2012, committed), Aaron Harrison (SG - 2013), Andrew Harrison (PG - 2013), Alerik Freeman (G - 2013), Tyler Roberson (SF - 2013), Ja'Quan Newton (PG - 2014), Shep Garner (G - 2014), Jahyde Gardiner (F - 2014), Conrad Chambers (PG - 2014) and Jahlil Wallace (G - 2014).
Jay Wright came on-stage at the end of the concert to close out the event. He thanked everyone from coming and then demanded, "Get to the football game tomorrow!" It was very interesting to see football be so present at the basketball kick-off event, but after Jay Wright's comments in New York at basketball media day, it was not much of a surprise. Jay Wright has been the football program's biggest supporter over the last few years.
On Saturday, the main event began.
  • At 10:30am the basketball team took the court again for another quick scrimmage that was open to the public. Maalik Wayns' "Blue" team took the victory. Dom Cheek did not play again.
  • After the scrimmage, the basketball team joined alumni, students and families on Sheehan beach for the homecoming festival, where beer, food and games were plentiful. There was a great crowd and some basketball alums were spotted as well, including Randy Foye, who was really taking in the whole experience of what was his first homecoming weekend as an alumnus and a fan.
  • At 3:30pm, the festival was shutting down, and the football game was getting ready to kick off. You can read our coverage from yesterday here. Sadly, the 'Cats continued to struggle with turnovers handing the game over to the visitors relatively early.
  • Later that evening, alums took to the Main Line. Many of whom went down to the classic college haunt, Brownies 23 East to see Will Sheridan perform one more time. Sheridan performed songs off of his new LP, and closed with the crowd-pleaser and YouTube sensation: Welcome to the Jungle.

Will Sheridan at Brownies

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Update (10:54am): Villanova has confirmed that Dominic Cheek was held out of the weekend scrimmages with a hamstring pull. It was not a major injury, but the coaches and training staff were being cautious about the situation. The team is taking today off, but Cheek is expected to return to practice tomorrow.