The Villanova Wildcats wear blue bracelets marked with the word attitude.
On Friday, coach Jay Wright said that attitude is the biggest core value in his basketball program. “We want our guys to understand in basketball that what you control is your attitude,” Wright said. “You don't control whether your shot goes in or the referee's calls, but you control your attitude on the next play.”
In Monday night’s NCAA national championship game, Villanova point guard Ryan Arcidiacono showed that he was in complete control of his attitude.
Arcidiacono, a graduating senior, put up 16 points and made the game-winning assist to Kris Jenkins in Villanova’s buzzer-beating 77–74 win over North Carolina.
This came on top of Arcidiacono’s 15 points in Villanova’s 95–51 semifinal win over Oklahoma on Saturday. His performances earned him the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award.
Some are calling the last moments of Monday’s final the most dramatic ever in college basketball. With 4.7 seconds left on the clock, North Carolina senior Marcus Paige tied the score with a double-clutch three-pointer. Paige later said that he told his teammates he thought they would go on to win in overtime.
Villanova had other plans. The Wildcats called a timeout, and Arcidiacono said that his team was calm in the huddle. “We knew what we were going to do, and we just executed,” he recalled.
Jenkins inbounded the ball to Arcidiacono, then sprinted up the court to get into position, yelling Arcidiacono’s name. Arcidiacono made the perfect pass, with Jenkins putting the ball in at the buzzer.
After the game, Arcidiacono filled in some of the details about the key assist he gave to Jenkins on that winning play. “It's what we do every single day in practice,” Arcidiacono said. “I'm always the one with the ball. I think coach has confidence in me and my teammates have confidence in me. I was trying to be aggressive. It's not about me taking the right shot, it's about me making the right read. I think I just did that.”
Jenkins described his thoughts about the last play. “Ryan Arcidiacono, he’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with. For a senior to get the ball and make the right play and not try to shoot the ball in double coverage just shows a lot about him and what he’s about and how he’s just all about winning.”
At the post game press conference, Wright spoke about how Arcidiacono’s maturity was important to pulling off Villanova’s big win.
“Ryan knows the play is to put people in positions where the man with the ball knows exactly where everybody's going to be, and then you trust,” Wright said. “You have to have a guy that you trust to make the right decision, not be selfish [or] want to be the star himself. And that's Ryan.”
“It’s unbelievable,” Arcidiacono said of winning a national championship to end his college career. “At halftime, we said we needed to play 20 minutes of Villanova basketball, and in the second half, we just fought. We made remarkable plays at the end of the game. I love this team.”
Photos: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images