The Villanova Wildcats have officially ushered in the new 2017-18 season with their annual Hoops Mania celebration.
As the normal venue for the event, the Pavilion, is under renovation, it was held inside next door in Villanova Stadium, with all students being able to attend. Thousands of students braved the somewhat unseasonable cold, with attendees packed onto the turf for the traditional event. After the introductions of the women’s and men’s basketball teams to a raucously cheering crowd, they did their usual dance routines with the Villanova Dance Team.
The stars of the show were delightfully awkward sophomore big man Dylan Painter, who snapped as if his life most certainly did not depend on it, junior swingman Mikal Bridges, who danced with an unbridled enthusiasm and borderline unnatural flexibility, and redshirt junior guard Phil Booth, who channeled his inner Bell Biv DeVoe in lip-syncing the ‘90s R&B hit “Poison”.
The team showed an obvious chemistry with one another, with star point guard Jalen Brunson in particular making sure everybody on both teams was involved as possible in the festivities. After Brunson and Booth unveiled the Big East regular season and conference tournament banners, accomplishments from last season’s campaign, everyone was ready for the mystery performer to come on stage.
Unfortunately, that “everyone” did not include the mystery performer, so the teams had to stall for about an hour, which was mainly done via more and more dancing and music by DJ “I LOVE MY JOB” 007, who did an admirable job of keeping the attention of the students, mainly by exclaiming just how much he loves his job (Spoiler Alert: He loves his job. Like, a lot).
Finally, after a long wait, head coach Jay Wright introduced the mystery performer, who was rapper French Montana, accompanied by one of his fellow Coke Boys. French, despite literally intermittently drinking a cup of lean on stage, did a fine job in his performance, which utilized cannons of fog to go along with the bass for most of his songs.
Montana led off with his verse from the A$AP Ferg single “Work (Remix)”. In retrospect, leading off a verse by proclaiming that you are in fact, not Kanye West isn’t the most ear-catching statement, but the crowd was energized by him, and the football field proved to have a great concert atmosphere in comparison to the Pavilion of years past.
While Hoops Mania celebrations of the past gave fans a small glimpse of basketball action with a blue-white scrimmage, three-point competition, and dunk contest, this year’s set up in Villanova Stadium couldn’t really accommodate that, so fans will have to wait just over a month to get their basketball appetite satisfied.
The Wildcats tip-off their season on November 10th against the Columbia Lions in the Wells Fargo Center, their temporary home during the renovation of the Pavilion.