One of the most intriguing storylines surrounding Villanova Athletics and mainly the men’s and women’s basketball teams going into the 2018-19 season was the opening of the newly renovated Finneran Pavilion. With a full season under its belt, the Pavilion is aesthetically pleasing, of course. There’s just one problem: the student section has no energy.
The narrative surrounding the Pavilion this year was that Villanova wanted to make it the toughest place to play in college basketball. Based on record and atmosphere, the Pavilion is far from achieving the goals the school wanted to reach. The cream of the crop of college basketball rarely lose at home, but ‘Nova dropped two of their first three games in the Pavilion. For the 10 minutes of pre-game hype, the student section in the Pavilion will be rocking. If the opposing team starts winning, good luck to the ‘Cats with getting help from the Nova Nation.
Take the Michigan game, for example, which Villanova lost 73-46. This game had all the hype in the world since it was a national championship game rematch. The students were going crazy as the starting lineups were announced and through the initial jumpball. By the time the first media timeout came along, Michigan had a 10-2 lead. Even though the deficit was only eight, the crowd went dead silent for the next 36 minutes of gametime, which continuing to the blowout. I even heard some people say, “I am never coming to another game ever again.”
Why do students feel so entitled to wins from the basketball team? Just because ‘Nova steamrolled its way to a national title last year does not translate to automatically beating every team you play the following year, especially after losing the four best players from the championship squad to the NBA. Players feed off of energy from their crowd, and if the students want to project negative energy towards the game, the result you get is going to be similar to Michigan.
Sure, it is possible to put blame on the seating arrangement of the Pavilion altogether by making most of the seating in the arena for season ticket holders, but that does not mean the student section can’t still have a big impact on a game. Instead of showing up for Big East games that matter for ‘Nova’s national rankings, students would rather try to sell their tickets in the Facebook group of their respective class. It is a problem that students go into the game expecting wins and will take a passive approach towards cheering on the ‘Cats. If the game gets close in the last few minutes, then once again, the arena will start going crazy, but where was that energy that could have been used all throughout the game? Nowhere to be found when the opponents go on a quick 10-0 run. The team has given too much for fans to give up.
It would be hard to expand seating already after one year, given the amount of money that was put into the renovation and the regulations laid out by Radnor Township. The only viable solution is incorporating new traditions to make the student section fun. Maybe ‘Nova should take a page out of Arizona State’s book and incorporate revealing someone in a crazy costume hiding behind a curtain to distract an opponent while shooting free throws. Maybe we should try chants other than “Let’s Go Nova” and “Defense” while on the other end. Those are just tired. Next basketball season, Nova Nation has to do better if it wants to maximize the true value of the Pavilion and keep the same energy for 40 minutes a game, not just when the team needs it most.