Hoops Mania comes with the thrill, the plays, the dunks, the suspense, the hype, the singer, the intros and the speeches. The excitement of a new basketball season is here, and expectations for a national championship are sky high.
The energy surrounding the event was infectious since Hoops Mania had not been held for more than two years. Villanova is the epitome of a basketball school, so the students clamor at every opportunity to celebrate the winning basketball teams and provide an energy for them to play harder and better. I forgot how loud the student body can be when we all yell as one.
The best part of Hoops Mania is seeing the fun side of the players. We don’t usually get to see NBA- players choreographing routines with the dance team and competing against the women’s team in a three-round dance off. Students love to see this fun and relatable side of their favorite players.
One critique I have of Hoops Mania was that Offset’s performance was a little on the short side. Guesses of the mystery preformer’s identity circulated campus and through YikYak in the days leading up, and the anticipation was palpable. The Finn roared with excitement when Offset took the stage, and while he gave us a taste of his best music, the performance abruptly ended after only a few songs. Honestly, he really didn’t sing either and didn’t engage with the crowd as much as he should have. Swae Lee in 2019 had a much longer performance and engaged thoroughly with the crowd. He was among the students and even shot baskets during his performance.
The women’s basketball intros were funny, well put together and creative, and students were excited to see what the next intro would bring. The men’s intros were also filled with excitement as the names were called, but their walk outs were muted and dull.
The energy when unveiling of the Big East championship banners was special because the entirety of the student body felt the weight of that accomplishment. We have it so good here with the success of our basketball program and the quality teams we put forth annually.
I am still trying to figure out how Justin Moore and Maddy Siegrist were on the same team for the three-point contest. Of course they would win, considering Siegrist hit 11 threes in a minute, trying to break the world record of 13 threes in a minute and with Moore having solid perimeter shooting as well. The Nation shooters impressed me, as most of them hit one or two threes with a mixture of men and women competing.
The scrimmage was dominated by the blue team led by Collin Gillespie, which they won, 16-8. Brandon Slater kept his bragging rights of Villanova’s best dunker by winning the Hoops Mania dunk contest with a slam dunk that featured him jumping over another person. Slater had a powerful jam against Baylor in the Sweet 16 matchup that promoted many highlight rolls.
If I were to grade Hoops Mania 2021, I would give it an A. The energy in the Finneran Pavilion during Hoops Mania was electric. It felt like a party two years in the making to celebrate the championship caliber program that is Villanova basketball as well as the anticipation of the student body.