Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.
-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8th, 1941
December 7th, 1941 is indeed a date which will live in infamy forever. The attacks of that day may have been witnessed by a distant generation now, but we as Americans have a duty to never forget the events of that day in Pearl Harbor.
To honor United States service members, both past and present, a couple of basketball games were played yesterday at Pearl Harbor. Besides those who traveled with each team to Hawaii on the planes, only active duty sailors and Navy veterans, including all the living survivors of the Pearl Harbor attacks, were allowed inside the tiny Bloch Arena to watch the game. At each break in the game, Bloch Arena and Fox Sports 1 gave a nice tribute to those veterans in attendance.
Except this was more than just any basketball game on so many levels. On one hand it was in commemoration for those who lived and those who perished defending our country. It was also a showdown of top ten teams at a time in the season when the true contenders separate from the pretenders.
#9 Villanova came into this game against #7 Oklahoma on a 19-game regular season winning streak, and all seven this year were not close contests. Yet the Wildcats never gave themselves a chance in this game.
It was ugly from the start. The Sooners began the game making each of their first six shots—all of which were 3-pointers. After extending their lead, Villanova took advantage of six minutes of no Oklahoma points to tie the game up at 26. The Sooners would not relinquish their lead so easily though, quickly building a six point lead into halftime.
It was at this time that Jay Wright should have changed the gameplan. Whether the long flight, the unfamiliar arena, or staunch Sooner defense was to blame, one fact was clear: Villanova was not making shots from behind the arc. Unfortunately, the second half exasperated the Main Liners’ problems. There were opportunities to come back. Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono each logged over thirty minutes of this game, yet combined for 9-31 shooting. With Daniel Ochefu and Kris Jenkins playing poorly as well, Coach Wright should have just yanked every starter off the court like his former mentor Rollie Massimino did in 1985. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges were two bright spots in an otherwise dark night, yet neither saw much action on the court.
Oklahoma may have been an athletic team, but Villanova was able to drive to the basket very well. When they weren’t throwing bricks like lazy stonemasons from behind the arc, Hart and Brunson were delivering guaranteed points every time they made a move towards the paint. The three point shooting was what killed the ‘Cats though. They finished the night 4 for 32. That’s 12.5%. Oklahoma, on the other hand, hit 14 threes on 54% shooting. Perhaps the most amazing takeaway from these numbers is that Villanova only lost by 23.
If we have learned anything as Nova Nationers, we know that when Villanova loses in the regular season, it loses big. Of the six losses Villanova has endured the past three seasons, five of those came at an average margin of 22 points (the sixth was an overtime loss). As with last night, the narrative to these losses is consistent: Villanova starts slow, turns to increased shots from behind the arc, shoots abysmally, continues to attempt 3s, and lets the opponent cruise to a no-contest win behind hot shooting.
Villanova faces two more nationally ranked teams this month in Virginia and Xavier. If this team is to prove its worth, it must stick to avoiding slow starts and relying on the 3s less. These are easy fixes, but necessary if Villanova hopes to beat any decent squad.
Last night may have been an embarrassment, but if Jay’s team can use this game as a model of what to avoid in the future, there may be hope yet. There will be haters (let’s all avoid ESPN for a while), but in the end Villanova will be laughing because this team still has all the talent and potential for a deep tournament run.
In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt exactly 74 years ago today, “We will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.”