Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports
From February 17th to March 9th, The Villanova Wildcats went 3-3 to finish the regular season. Given how dominant they have been in the conference since the league’s reconfiguration in 2014, most people would have thought that the Wildcats were not capable of repeating as tournament champs. This week they proved other wise. Through four days of this tournament, each opponent pushed them to the brink of defeat but they always answered back. The Wildcats senior duo of Dobbs Ferry, NY native Eric Paschall, and Phil Booth were instrumental in the Wildcats run.
Not to long ago both players were under the wings of seniors such as Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson and others this year they have become the leaders that have led a young group. As head coach Jay Wright explained in the press conference, the impact Paschall and Booth had on the team is what made this years run special compared to the past. “There’s more to this one, just watching these two what they did we lost our two top assistants. We had young coaches who did a great job, and these two were like coaches”.
This tournament run was special for the Wildcats because it came at a time where the conference was wide open and more than one team was the favorite by many to possibly win the whole thing. To Eric Paschall, winning their third Big East championship wasn’t the only goal it was to be the best team they can be. “ I mean it’s pretty cool to know that even though we never really talked about it. We just talked about each year, I mean coming from the first one of this streak , we just talked about being the greatest team we could be, greatest Villanova Basketball team we could be. There’s nothing like in our plan. We just tried to become the best Villanova basketball team and see where that takes us.”
In a couple of years when we look back at the 2018-19 Villanova team, one thing we know for sure is that they were a young but resilient team led by two dedicated seniors In Booth and Paschall who brought out the best in all of the players. For now the defending national champions will get prepared for another run as they will be the 6th seed in the NCAA tournament and they will play 11th Seeded Saint Mary’s on Thursday night in the First round of the NCAA tournament. Based on what we experienced last week at the Garden Phil Booth and Eric Paschall will have the Wildcats ready.