VUHoops is kicking off its ramp-up to Villanova Basketball’s 100th Season with Ten Top 10 lists. We’ll cover everything you love about Villanova basketball from 1920 to 2020. Be sure to check out all ten of our lists, and check back over the coming weeks as we begin the celebration of 100 years of Villanova Basketball!
One could argue that the biggest aspect of Villanova Basketball is, well, the basketball. But that’s not all that makes up the experience of attending a Villanova Basketball game. In fact, there’s a lot that happens off the court that makes going to a Nova basketball game so memorable for fans young and old. Today, we’re counting down the Top 10 off-court “things” that makes going to a Villanova basketball so great.
Whoosh Go! - Whenever Villanova attempts a free throw, the crowd has there hands in the air trying to will the ball in. And after every make, the hands go down, the crowd shouts “Whoosh, Go!” and throws a fist pump to the basketball gods for good measure.
The Band - HEEEEEEEEEEEEEY, Hey Baby! (OOH, AAH) I wanna knooow (oh-oh-oooooooh-oh-oh) if you’ll be my girl!?!?
Cheerleaders / Dance Team - Never get enough credit for being some of the best athletes on the court, and that includes the basketball players.
Trying to get on the Jumbo Tron - What makes us lose our minds and do all kinds of crazy dances for no reason? The Bongo-Cam, that’s what.
10) The Kris Jenkins “Shot Spot” at The Finn
For those of you who don’t know, one of the coolest parts of the new Finneran Pavillion is that the court of the 2016 NCAA Final Four has been incorporated into the lower lobby section of the stadium. That includes a bar with the floor of the arc and exact spot from which Kris Jenkins hit the biggest shot in college basketball history.
So why isn’t this iconic spot higher on the list? Because as of last season this entire area is only accessible to those who have non-student tickets in the lower-bowl. I get the experience that Villanova wants to create for fans that pay big money for those season tickets, but this is something every Nova fan should be able to check out and enjoy.
9) Crab Fries at Wells Fargo Center
Often imitated, but never duplicated, Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab Fries are a must for any game at the Wells Fargo Center.
No in game snack has ever matched its combination of delicious taste and assured mess. If the old bay based seasoning doesn’t get all over your fingers and clothes, the melted cheese dip attached in a catapult-esque launching device is equally as dangerous. But it’s all worth it for a taste that’s now ingrained in every Wells Fargo memory I have.
8) Will D. Cat
Villanova’s mascot is probably the most recognizable member of the Villanova Basketball outside of Jay Wright and the players. And on top of that, he’s by far the most engaging with the fan base.
Whether it’s doing flips with the cheerleaders, dancing on the sidelines, or firing t-shirts into the stands, Will D. Cat knows how to get the Villanova fans going. He even spices up his outfit from time to time with a Santa hat or a Jay Wright inspired suit. Gotta love everyone’s favorite mascot.
7) Championship Banners
It doesn’t matter if you’re in South Philly or on the Main Line, you can find proof of Nova’s National Championships. Villanova is one of only eight universities in the country that has three Championship Banners hanging in the rafters.
In fact, there are a TON of banners hanging in the Finn these days after an unprecedented run of success by Villanova in recent years. They’ve dominated the Big 5, the Big East, and added two National Championships in the past four seasons. And now the spoils of those victories are on full display in impressive fashion.
6) The Student Section
Signs, giant Jay Wright heads, costumes, body paint, and chants. Add that to their new spots surrounding the court at The Finn, and Villanova’s student section is always one of the most entertaining aspects of any Nova game.
The student section gets the rest of the Nova fan base energized on game day, even going as far as to chant “on your feat” to the rest of the fans. But even when they’re not raising the energy level of the arena, the students are always entertaining. Whether it’s the clever signs, silly costumes, entertaining chants, or just playing the “Where’s Waldo” type game of who had one refreshment too many before tip-off. Here’s to you student section, as Matthew McConaughey would say, “We keep getting older but you stay the same age.” All Wright, All Wright, All Wright.
5) Roll-out Signs and Streamers at Big 5 Games
This is one of the off-court traditions that have somewhat faded through the years, but still brings back some of my fondest memories from Nova games. The Big 5 is still something special in Philadelphia, but there’s no denying it’s lost a little sizzle since its heyday. Throwing streamers out after the first basket still happens from time to time, usually at least once every year or so. It’s usually followed by a vacated free throw since it’s actually a technical foul against the home team, but it’s still really cool to watch when it happens. They even broke it out in honor of Coach Massimino when Northwood came to the Main Line.
Of course another tradition whose time has passed is the roll-out banners that used to be a staple at Big 5 games. While they may have crossed the line a few times, leading to their decline, they were often clever and amusing jabs at the opposing schools that would get rolled out at the top of the student section and passed down to the front row before being taken down. These traditions may be all but gone now, but for many fans they’ll always be fondly remembered as a big part of any Villanova Basketball game experience.
4) Players Entering through the Student Section
For everything new and improved that comes with the new Finneran Pavilion, the biggest loss has been one of the greatest traditions Villanova ever had. When the old student section made up the entire Southern bleachers, the Wildcat players would start every game by coming down through the students.
This was something unique to Villanova, and made the student section feel even more connected with the team. These guys were coming out of the student population to represent them on the court, a sentiment that was embodied in the entrance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that the new student sections are now entirely in the lower bowl. But that doesn’t keep me from missing one of my favorite traditions.
3) Tailgating at Wells Fargo Center
There’s nothing like getting bundled up against the bitter Philadelphia winter, throwing some beer and BBQ in the car, and heading to the Wells Fargo Center parking lot for a good ol’ fashioned Villanova tailgate party.
Things may warm up a bit by March, but the late December matchup with Kansas or mid-January game with UConn should be bitterly cold for fans to stand outside a few hours before the game. But that will not stop busloads of students, alumni, and fans from filling the parking lot with tents, tables, and all the tailgating accoutrements that REALLY get you ready for a game.
2) Post Game “V for Villanova”
While half of this tradition technically happens on the court, I’m still going to count it in our countdown. At the end of every Villanova game (unless they’re celebrating a National Championship), Jay Wright and the players will stand in front of the student section, raise their hands in a V, and sing the fight song along with the fan base.
Jay Wright takes great pride in tradition, and this is my absolute favorite for the Wildcats. It’s a recognition of the fans, it’s yet another connection to the University, and win or lose it embodies Wright’s primary mantra of “ATTITUDE”.
1) The Villanova Dancing Guy
The Man, The Myth, The Legend.
John Ermilio, better known as the “Dancing Guy”, is a Villanova Legacy and member of the Class of ‘67. He’s become known for his signature black cap and usually dons a Villanova t-shirt to games. But what he’s become most known for is just cutting loose whenever there’s a chance to rile up the crowd at a Villanova game. He’s easily the most recognizable fan, and someone that everyone looks for whenever a dance cam comes on the jumbo-tron. In his own words, his motivation is to get the rest of the alumni up out of their seats, and loves the recognition and thanks he gets from students and fans alike. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Villanova Basketball John, and keep bringing your lucky hat to games!