They’re from Philly
C’mon, people – have some hometown pride. It’s easy enough for me – I’ve been watching Villanova basketball since I was kid. I’ve always been a Big 5 fan, so even when I chose to attend Temple, I always actively followed the other schools. Two brands of Big Fivers seem to take issue with supporting Villanova – people from outside of the region who came into Philly to go to school, and people who have generational ties to a university.
To the first grouping: it’s okay to show regional pride. Your team is done for the year – no one should begrudge you for backing another team from our region for a week or so. It’s not like you are jumping on just any bandwagon here – it’s not like pulling for UCLA or something.
To the second group, namely you St. Joe’s folks – I understand where you are coming from. They’re your hated rivals; it’s not easy to watch them succeed. But I ask you this: if you saw a heated rival of yours from the neighborhood – that guy you always ended up getting in scraps with – suddenly getting roughed up by outsiders, wouldn’t you stand up for the guy?
He might be a jerk, but at least he’s a jerk from your neighborhood; you might not like the guy, but he shares your background, your history, your life. He’s a part of who you are, like it or not. I bet you go to battle with that guy, at least until you chase off those outsiders.
After that, it’s business as usual – resume the hate.
They’re easy to root for
I have a general model I look for when deciding how much I enjoy watching a team play. I want to watch a team that is scrappy but talented. They can’t be the favorites, the front-runners, the chalk; when describing this team, cliches such as “they’ve got a puncher’s chance” or “they don’t have any quit in them” should be expected. They keep you on the edge of your seat, mostly because they are masters of late-game heroics. The style of play they employ is upbeat, or offbeat, or brash and physical (depending on the sport), but it always has an exhilarating and edgy competitiveness about it. They are well-coached, and have unique personalities that make the team compelling but down-to-earth, their talent extraordinary but the general personality of the players lifelike enough that I would want to take them out for a beer. They are hard-workers, and they give you everything they have every time they play. They are passionate. You can see their desire to win beading on their foreheads and oozing out of their pores.
Villanova has most, if not all of, those qualities. Jay Wright is a great ambassador for Philly basketball, which has nothing to do with his apparent likeness to a certain actor, and more to do with X’s, O’s and the loose atmosphere he has facilitated. Guys like Scottie Reynolds, Dante Cunningham, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, and Dwayne Anderson all seem to play with electricity in their veins. Fact is, they are one entertaining team to watch, and their scrappy resolve, unwavering poise, and competitive drive remind me a of the general aura the ’08 Phillies possessed.
They’re the underdog
North Carolina and UConn were the prohibitive favorites coming into the season, and remained that way throughout much of the year. Michigan State has made five Final Fours and six Elite Eights in the past 11 years. Villanova is the underdog, at least in this grouping of four. Aren’t we supposed to love an underdog in this city, especially one on the brink of winning it all? That’s our thing, right? Hence the whole fixation with Rocky business and what-not.
And you have to be pulling for them when they play Carolina. Carolina is chic and shiny, presented to the world with a glossy entitlement, their designer brand of basketball modeled by an unlimited line of blue-chip princes. All of whom, like their royal brethren at Duke, simply expect to find the crown upon their head eventually.
I say to hell with that. And what in tarnation is a Tar Heel, anyway?
Another champion is one more reason why we are better then our rival cities
I consider four regions to be rivals of the Greater Philadelphia area: New York, Pittsburgh, Boston and DC, in that order. None has had more recent success than Philly. The Yankees and Mets both missed the playoffs, the Iggles ended the Giants’ season, the Flyers advanced further than the Rangers last year and look to do so again, Syracuse couldn’t get by the Sweet 16, and the Knicks suck.
Heh. The Knicks.
Next is Pittsburgh. The Steelers championship evens out with the Phillies World Series title, though the Eagles had just a bit more success then the Pirates last year. The Penguins kept us out of the Stanley Cup playoffs a year ago, though the Flyers could get a chance to return the favor this year. ‘Nova knocking off Pitt, and the fact that the Sixers are going to make another trip to the playoffs, gives Philly the slightest of advantage over our little step-brother to the west. A ‘Nova championship makes our victory a bit more comfortable.
Let’s go to Boston. The Red Sox had a nice run, but they didn’t win the World Series. The Celtics could two-peat, so they may have us there. The Bruins are looking very nice right now, but the Flyers success last year combined with the fact that they could advance further in the playoffs then them this year evens that out. The Patriots failed to make the playoffs, and BC lost in the first round of the Tourney. We edge out Boston right now, but a ‘Nova championship gives us nice lead.
I’m not even going to bother with DC – Maryland and the Capitals are nice teams, but nothing special. The Redskins imploded and the Nationals stink.
A ‘Nova championship makes us, hands down, the cream of the crop when compared to our rival regions. And that is pretty sweet.