Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there! I hope you all have an enjoyable and relaxing day.
I’m bringing back one of the weekly traditions and series, and that is the “Week in Review!” Even though we are in the middle of summer break, there was actually a good amount of buzz in the world of Villanova Athletics this past week.
Nicastro Steps Down:
After 15 years of being the Athletic Director for Villanova University, Vince Nicastro is stepping down from his post. In an announcement by President Fr. Peter Donohue, Nicastro will be resigning from the position but he is not severing his ties with the university. Nicastro will have a new role within Villanova. He will be taking his talents to the law school, where he has accepted his new position as Associate Director of the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law. However, he will fulfill his duties as Athletic Director until his successor has been chosen. In the mean time, the university has put together a committee to begin their search and selection process for a new Director of Athletics.
During Nicastro’s tenure, he has been a witness and a part of three National Championships – two for women’s cross country (2009, 2010) and one for football (2009). All varsity teams on campus have combined for 30 conference titles, The men’s basketball team, the apple of Nova Nation’s eye, went to ten NCAA Tournaments. They’ve gone to four Sweet Sixteens, two Elite Eights, and one Final Four.
However, it wasn’t perfect. The failure to elevate Villanova Football from FCS to FBS play left some to think about what could have been – for the team and for the school as a whole. The missed opportunity wasn’t the end all, be all. As one door closed, the other opened for Villanova Athletics. Nicastro played a pivotal role in the new Big East, creating a new big opportunity for Villanova and a number of other schools. Also, there were the openings of Davis Center in 2007 and the new soccer complex in 2014. Perhaps you can argue that his greatest accomplishment was stressing the value of education and the true preservation of the title “student-athlete.” This year, Villanova was one of only 19 schools nationwide to have at least 12 teams recognized for their academic success.
Overall, Nicastro has had a positive impact on Villanova Athletics, who knows what the future will bring.
Battle of the V’s:
By the time the official men’s basketball schedule is released later this year, you might not be able to call it “soft.” Villanova has received criticism at times for not having a strong schedule. Big Five play takes up four slots off the bat, and you do need a few cupcakes to warm up and experiment. This time around, the Wildcats will be looking to control their sweet tooth by feasting on better opposition. Jay Wright and his staff have taken another step to come up with a tougher out-of-conference schedule. The defending Big East champions have scheduled a home-and-home series against the defending ACC regular season champions, the Virginia Cavaliers.
The Wildcats and the Cavaliers have met six times, with Villanova holding a 4-2 edge. Both teams last met in 2004, where the Wildcats won 73-63 at home. Villanova will head down to the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville on December 19th for the first meeting of the series. Virginia will then head over to the Wells Fargo Center in the following season.
This game is exactly what Villanova needs, especially against a top tier ACC team. It will be good for the team and for the fans as well. Not sure how this will affect the rumors of a Villanova-Duke meeting of if those rumors are empty-handed, but this is great. If Villanova schedules a meeting with both teams, that would be phenomenal. If we are going to be ranked highly, we have to act like it by playing and beating the best.
Article: Villanova, Virginia to Play Home and Home Series
Making Their Mark:
Newcomers Eric Paschall and Jalen Brunson have taken excellent strides this offseason. Their first steps as Wildcats couldn’t have gone any better – playing basketball at a national level. Paschall and Brunson represented Villanova as they received the opportunity to be a part of training camp for the Team USA U-19 Squad at Colorado Springs. The duo was a part of 24 invitees who went through a week of training and tryouts that began on June 13th. Paschall received the shorter end of the stick, getting cut at the end of the tryout period. However, he doesn’t seem too worried or beaten up over up. It appears to be a source of motivation to better himself.
As for Brunson, he was impressive in his own right. The incoming freshman point guard secured one of the 12 spots on the roster. Brunson and the U19 team will head over to Greece to play in the World Championships from June 27th to July 5th.
Zac Kerxton, a wide receiver from Haymarket, Virginia, chose to play for the Wildcats over a number of other schools. He visited the school on June 11th, where he received a scholarship offer. Kerxton had an excellent junior season, where he finished with 60 receptions for 1,431 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was the only junior to receive 6A All-State Team honors. Kerxton chose Villanova over Elon, Cornell, Fairmont State, Towson, and James Madison. He brings speed and agility to the Wildcats’ wide receiver corps. Defenses often struggle with keeping up with the speedster, who also participates in spring track when he’s not playing football. Kerxton is the second player to give a verbal commitment to Villanova, after Jeff Wiley announced his intent to play for the Wildcats earlier this month.
Article: WR Zac Kerxton Commits to Villanova
Across the Pond:
The success of women’s rowing this year warranted a spot at the prestigious Henley Women’s Regatta this weekend. The Henley Women’s Regatta is an annual competition that began in 1988, it is held each year at Thames, England. It was the sixth time that Villanova went across the pond over the last 22 years and the first time they have returned since 2010. The Wildcats were one of nine teams across the world competing in the Senior Eights category. Their quest for the GP Jefferies Memorial Trophy fell short, as they were knocked out of the tournament, losing to Oxford Brookes University (Oxford, England) in the quarterfinals. Despite the loss, it was still a great experience for the women’s rowing team and an accomplishment in itself to compete in the Henley Women’s Regatta.
First of More to Come:
This past week, The Bench Mob saw its first few articles from a couple of its new writers. Jack McCarthy and Rachel Bleier made their writing debuts for the website. They made the first of many more articles to come. The website will also be introducing a number of new writers later in the summer and at the beginning of the fall semester. Rachel and Jack were the first to step up during their summer breaks and I am excited to see more from them as we move ahead.