Jan. 17, 2014
By SEAN BRENNAN
In our latest installment of "Getting to Know...," we touch base with Villanova sophomore guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who talks about how back-to-back early-season wins over nationally-ranked Kansas and Iowa help define this year's Wildcats team and how deep Villanova blue runs in the Arcidiacono family and delivers a closing statement that no Villanova fan could possibly agree with.
BIGEAST.com: What's the buzz like on campus now with the Main Line being home to the nation's sixth-ranked team?
ARCIDIACONO: "A lot of people are excited. A lot of people are coming up to us telling us they're really happy with the way the season has been going. But really not much has changed. Everyone was already pretty excited about the team going into this year. But maybe people recognize you a little more now when you're walking around campus."
BIGEAST.com: Back in the early days of practice in October did this team look to you like one that could be a Top 10 team?
ARCIDIACONO: "You never really think of the numbers game but I felt we were going to have a really good team. I mean I didn't know what our record would be or if we'd be ranked, but I felt we had a good recruiting class coming in with Josh (Hart), Kris (Jenkins) and Darryl (Reynolds) along with our returning starters and returning players. I knew we had a chance to do something special. I just didn't know how early it would come together. But we've just been playing good basketball."
BIGEAST.com: Did you get a better understanding of what this team was capable of after the victories over Kansas and Iowa in the Battle4Atlantis in the Bahamas?
ARCIDIACONO: "Oh yeah definitely, just the way we played through adversity. We were down versus Kansas and we wound up getting a `W' in the end and we were down again against Iowa, down 15 in the second half, and we came back to win in overtime. So I figured we had a great team that would never give up. Coach (Jay Wright) has always told us our best attribute is our character."
BIGEAST.com: This year your numbers are down compared to last year. But last year Nova went 20-14 and had to sweat out an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. This year you're 15-1, unbeaten in the BIG EAST and ranked No. 6 in the nation. Are your lower numbers by design to benefit the team?
ARCIDIACONO: "I don't know if it's by design but we're winning so I'm not really too worried about it. I know my numbers aren't as good compared to last year but in the last five games I've been really shooting the ball a lot better. We're 4-1 in our last five with just that loss to Syracuse so honestly I'm not worried about my numbers. I'm just glad we're winning."
BIGEAST.com: Are you happier running the show and getting everyone else more involved even if it affects your numbers?
ARCIDIACONO: "Oh, definitely. I think I'm kind of like the backbone of our team. I feel like I'm always calm and am there to just calm everyone down. I think my role this year has changed but I think it's still a great role to have on this team. I love what I do. I love being a tough, scrappy player and taking shots when I'm open but also setting up my teammates for shots, too. I just let the game come to me."
BIGEAST.com: You grew up in Langhorne, Pa. which you said is about a 25-minute drive to Philly. On top off that your mom (Patti) and dad (Joe) are both Villanova graduates. So was there ever any doubt that you Nova was going to be your school, too?
ARCIDIACONO: "I grew up loving Villanova basketball and that's something that clearly had an effect on me. But my mom and dad never forced me to pick Villanova. They let me make my own decision and I wound up picking Villanova myself. I was recruited by a lot of other schools and I took them seriously but I just felt Villanova was the best option for me."
BIGEAST.com: Your dad was a football player at Villanova. So honestly, how many times has he regaled you with every great football story of his career?
ARCIDIACONO: "(Laughs). A little bit. He played with (former Oakland Raiders star) Howie Long so he talks about that more than anything else. My dad and Howie were team captains together."
BIGEAST.com: Is your family regular attendees at Nova games being that they live so close to campus?
ARCIDIACONO: "Yeah, whenever I can get enough tickets for them. I have a lot of family that want to come to games."
BIGEAST.com: Some players don't pay much mind to basketball when they're away from the court. Are you a fan of the game?
ARCIDIACONO: "Oh, yeah. That's pretty much all I watch on television. I'll watch a few other shows but I watch basketball all the time."
BIGEAST.com: Is there a player in college that you as a fan would pay to go see play?
ARCIDIACONO: "I watch a lot of college ball and I'm perfectly fine watching the game at home on TV. But maybe (Joel) Embiid and (Andrew) Wiggins at Kansas. I watch them and I think they're going to have a great futures in the NBA. I watch them and I'm like, `Wow, I'm glad we played them early because they're just getting better and better.'"
BIGEAST.com: You're the quarterback on the No. 6 team in the country. Is there anyone out there that would pay to see you play?
ARCIDIACONO: "(Laughs). I don't know. But maybe."
BIGEAST.com: Do you have any hidden talents off the court?
ARCIDIACONO: "No. There's nothing special about me. I'm just a regular college kid."
Villanova fans might quibble with that.