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2018-19 Season Kicks Off With Hoops Mania

The unofficial start to the season in the new look home for the Wildcats!

Students got the first look at the new and improved Finneran Pavilion at the annual Hoops Mania season kick-off. The $65 million renovation to the iconic on-campus home to Villanova Basketball took over a year to be completed but was finished on time and on budget, according to Mark Jackson. The improvements include a brand new mezzanine entrance that features an interactive Villanova Hall of Fame, trophy case, the center piece from the 2016 Championship court in Houston, and new and improved seats all around the arena. Students lined up outside the new McMahon Way and rushed into the stadium to see their new home court.

The stadium features new state-of-the-art audio visual technologies with a brand new lighting and sound system that extends throughout the mezzanine and into the court area. This was on full effect during the introduction when the lights dimmed and the court turned into a 3-D graphic projection hyping up both the men’s and the women’s teams. Jay Wright can bounding onto the court, hyping up the packed house and welcomed them to their new home for the upcoming season. Coach Wright harped on the importance of being back on campus and having the students close to the stadium, but thanked everyone for traveling for the games last year. “We loved seeing the students in the parking lot outside Wells Fargo when our bus pulled in studying the scouting report or whatever you guys were doing,” he laughed.

The women’s team was introduced and brought onto the court, led by seniors Adrianna Hahn and Jannah Tucker. The team had some fun with their introductions, highlighted by sophomore Brianna Herlihy bringing out a ukulele and running around with that. The team made it into the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual champions Notre Dame last season.

Throughout the festivities the four ‘Nova draftees (DiVincenzo, Spellman, Brunson, and Bridges) had videos highlighting their Villanova career and their new NBA team. All four wished they could have been there but wished the best for the new stadium and the new team. Some notable basketball alumni were introduced including Darryl Reynolds, Matt Kennedy, R.C. Massimino, and Kevin Rafferty. Some ‘85 players pulled the bar (looked more like a dynamite lever actually) to reveal the 1985 Championship banner, and the same was done for the ‘16 banner. Denny Grace, Matt Kennedy, and Tom Leibig brought out the 2016 and 2018 national championship trophies and unveiled the 2018 National Championship banner.

The men’s team was announced, first with the new freshmen (and graduate-transfer Joe Cremo) introduced to their new home court. Coach Wright, Father Peter, and Mark Jackson presented the 2018 championship team players with their championship rings as they were introduced. Wright spoke again about their excitement to get the new season started.

“This event is meant to put a close to the 17-18 season and get fired up for the 18-19 season,” Wright said with a fist-bump.

The traditional basketball team-dance team collaborate effort was up next, and I’m not really sure what else to say about that other than it featured Dylan Painter in a cowboy hat and a guitar, Saddiq Bey getting pretty emotional with his lip-synching, and Phil Booth sporting a French Prince of Bel Air outfit.

Finally it was time for basketball, with the dunk contest and three-point contest. Eric Paschall edged out Collin Gillespie with a perfect score for the crown after the two went into a playoff. The three-point contest featured a couple men’s players and a couple women’s players with the students from the newly formed ‘Nova Nation’ fan group.

The blue and white scrimmage had the traditional stoppage as the crowd launched streamers onto the court after the first basket of the game - an alley-oop to Paschall.

In all this was a great introduction to the new season. The players were loving every minute of it and the students got to experience the sleek new Finneran Pavilion for the first time. The audio/visual technologies were impressive, the seat upgrades looked great, and it will no doubt be an incredible experience for the first game of the season.

Check out pictures from the night below: