An Open Letter to Ryan Arcidiacono

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor's Note: Nice work. Frontpaged.)

Dear Ryan,

I can't believe it has come to this. We have seen you in a Villanova uniform for the last time. As it did for many of us when we attended this incredible university, the time has flown by.

I thought it would be unique for you to hear what your four years have meant to this program from the view of a fan. I know you've heard all the statistics, so I won't take your time by repeating them again. Also, forgive me if it seems I am going in every which direction here.

You see, what we will remember most of your time isn't seeing the winningest class in the history of Villanova basketball, nor the consecutive Big East regular season titles, nor the two Big East tournament final games, nor the four appearances in the NCAA tournament, or even the creative pronunciations or spellings of your last name by the press and other outsiders. No, what we will remember is you helping to bring us back full circle to days we never thought we would see again, culminating with our second national championship. You and your teammates, in a sense, brought back the magic that was 1985.

I don't think I need to remind you of what awaited you at Villanova when you arrived on campus in 2012. The fans were wondering if the magic that had propelled this program to the Elite Eight in 2006 and Final Four in 2009 had run its course. There were some fans who doubted we could ever fully turn the ship around.

We knew you and Daniel were coming into the program and we knew of the talent you would bring. I admit, however, I personally wondered if the struggles that were the 2011-12 season would cause both of you to seek greener pastures. Indeed, it was recently noted you had been looking at Florida. I remember someone on this very site scolding me for doubting your commitment to us, saying you bled Villanova blue and would never back out. I can say now that he was right, and I was so wrong to have ever doubted you.

That first season, we did not know what to expect. You were a freshman, just removed from major back surgery that we did not know if it would affect your ability to replicate all we had seen on tape. Your taking a charge against JVP in your first practice threw that concern out the window. The start of the season was bumpy (i.e. the loss to Columbia you always mention) but your composure and basketball IQ seemed to communicate to the fans that everything would be all right. That same composure led Jay, who usually seemed to defer to seniority, to name you captain in the middle of your freshman year.

I did not attend many games that season, fearing I would be watching major losses to the likes of Louisville and Syracuse. That was a decision I regretted. I remember watching in awe as our team dismantled a Louisville team that would win the national championship that year. I did attend the Syracuse game later that week. What I saw then was a theme repeated throughout your career: you placed yourself in the right place at the right time when the game was on the line. I can still picture the crowds when that three point shot went in near the end of regulation. I knew then that everything with this program I had grown to love would be all right again.

That kind of timely shot would be repeated again and again (Kansas in Atlantis, Butler, Providence) in more situations than I can name or remember. I even coined a somewhat cheesy hashtag that I used whenever you made one: #archbomb.

You tried to do it all - to carry this team on your back out of the depths of uncertainty - your freshman year. Although it wasn't always smooth, it was what this team (and this fanbase) needed at the time. What you provided in your subsequent years was an embodiment of what makes this program so special. You bought into Villanova basketball with all your being, and pushed your teammates to do the same.

While "attitude" has been a part of Jay's program, you made it a cornerstone of your time here. It is all over the Davis Center, all over Twitter, and even on the backs of the jerseys. You did not just talk the talk though when it came to attitude; you lived it day in and day out. Because of this, the concept of "attitude" has permeated this program and will linger long after you graduate, as each class of seniors passes it down to the next.

Your unceasing effort, hustle, and grit provided a spark and served an example to your teammates. No matter what the danger, you were not afraid to take a charge or to pursue a loose ball, even if it meant diving into (or leaping over) the scorer's table in danger of injury, to the delight of fans. There might have always been a few cringes somewhere in the audience, but you always just dusted yourself off and went on to the next play as if nothing had happened.

Despite some disappointments along the way, you never let them define you or change your approach. You were able to tune out distractions and continue both playing and perfecting Villanova basketball to the last game of your career. It was evident with your meeting with your fellow seniors and Jay into the early hours of the morning after the loss to NC State last year and your vow to take responsibility for keeping everyone focused defensively next season.

That final game was an example of the type of unselfish player and person you are. You had the ball in your hands, in the title game, with only seconds to go and the game tied. You had the capability to make a game winning shot - you had done it before. We know how the rest goes - you put aside personal glory and passed the ball to Kris. Those 4.7 seconds will be ones Nova Nation never forgets. Your tweet at the end was also memorable, as if you had fulfilled an unspoken promise to the fans and as if you knew what would happen all along.

You were not done yet, despite that tweet. You and Daniel provided an encore that brought tears to many of our eyes by making the day of a young boy recently diagnosed with cancer (as well as his alumni parents). If not for someone recording it and posting it online, we would never have known. In fact, you noted you did not want the publicity - it was just the right thing to do. It definitely reinforces you as the type of person every guy would want as his best friend, every parent would want their daughter to date, and every alum would want to buy a beer (if only it were permitted by the NCAA).

I know what we will miss most is the pride you had for your teammates, this program, and its fans. This appreciation was amplified with Jay describing how much respect you had for the uniform (and what it represented). I was a bit teary eyed (not afraid to admit it) when I knew you are taking it off for the last time but was happy you got to do it in the best way possible. Like Jay, I was also a bit emotional when I saw the photo of you and Daniel kissing the V at halfcourt after your last on-campus practice. You made Jay's job easier by embodying his philosophy and being effectively an on-court coach. You also brought us, the fans, confidence every time you had the ball in your hands. We had your back, and you had ours.

Thank you again for this memorable four-year run. The ending could have not been more movie-like. Come on, beating the number 1 team of the tournament on your birthday? Crushing the team that had beaten you soundly only months before? Winning the championship game on a buzzer beater shot? I hope Hollywood was watching the tournament - if not, we have a script for the next sports movie.

You brought pride back to a program's fans, whose pride had been bruised the prior couple of years, embraced Nova Nation, and blazed a new path of success for this program. Being a major factor in the recruitment of Jalen Brunson and taking him under your wing (as early as his official recruiting visit) will be part of your great legacy. I know you will humbly defer to your teammates (and it is true this would not have been possible without a team effort), but a 117-27 record over 4 years is nothing short of amazing, and you have a lot to do with it.

I know if I were an NBA owner or executive, I would do everything in my power to draft you because of your work ethic, basketball IQ, and great guard play. I hope someone who is one agrees with me. If not, I know you've played in Italy several summers, and that is not a bad place to spend some years professionally. Hey, you'll give me someone to visit on my next trip over there.

I know you have heard the title of "coach's son" too many times, but let me make a prediction. I predict our paths will cross again on the Main Line, and not just for the day (hopefully soon) that your jersey joins the all-time Villanova greats in the rafters of our arena. I am willing to bet anything that we will see you again roaming the Pavilion, this time on the bench as part of the coaching staff. You are a perfect fit for Jay and Villanova. Besides, if you truly do bleed Villanova blue (like I do), you won't be able to venture far - all roads lead back to Villanova.

I want to leave you with a quote, and I think it is appropriate for this juncture in your life and in this program. It is from Dr. Seuss, whose childhood lessons still reverberate after all these years:

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

I know you were doing a lot more smiling than crying, but I'm sure the finality hit at some point. I also know Nova Nation will be smiling for a long time after these four years and how they ended.

Forever grateful on behalf of Nova Nation,

Nick, Class of 2007

P.S. Are you sure we can't get you back for one more year? Villanova does have some great graduate programs.

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