March 20, 2014
By Sean Brennan
Special to BIGEAST.com
For Villanova senior Nick McMahon, this year’s NCAA Tournament will be his third. The walk-on from Colts Neck, N.J., is a finance major who a few months from now will be moving to New York City and donning the suit and tie when he takes a position at J.P. Morgan. But before he does, Nick, who scored the first two points of his career this season vs. Rider – “Something to tell the kids about someday,” he said - will give BIGEAST.com a view of the tournament from his perspective on Villanova’s bench, or as we like to call it…THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE. Here’s his first installment:
For McMahon, Sunday’s Selection Show party was unlike any before in his time at Villanova.
“That was a really cool experience,” McMahon said. “I’ve been a part of three tournament teams in my career. Each of the other two years though we were an 8 or 9 seed so it wasn’t a big media thing. It was very low key. But this year it was the whole media, the band, cameras left and right. Really cool that Nova Nation was there. Everyone came out and we were high-fivin’ everyone. It was very cool to be part of it.”
The delirium erupted as McMahon and his teammates see “Villanova” appear on the TV screen.
“To be honest I was so excited when our name popped up that I didn’t see Milwaukee’s name come up because we were still high-fiving each other from when our name came up,” McMahon said. “After that I looked at the screen and saw Milwaukee and we all looked at each other and said we don’t know much about Milwaukee. But coach told us that every team that makes it by winning their conference tournament is one of the best teams in their league. So we’re going in thinking we’re going to have a tough game so we have to play our best.”
St. Patrick’s Day…No day off for McMahon the Irishman or any of the other Wildcats. We learn Nova coach Jay Wright is a stern taskmaster.
“No way,” McMahon says laughing, when asked if he thought he’d have the day off. “Right away the coaches started with the walk-throughs and scouting (reports). We went over a short film of their personnel to familiarize yourself, but we didn’t get too heavy on the court that day. We wanted to kind of get away from the hype of the (selection) show and get our minds away from it and get back at it Tuesday.”
On Tuesday Villanova leaves Philadelphia on its flight to Buffalo. McMahon says it’s a business trip but he also is going to be taking time to drink it all in during his final NCAA Tournament trip with Nova.
“We have a really good spot we’re in being a No. 2 seed and we really want to capitalize on that. I’m going to enjoy it. When you’re a freshman, sophomore or junior you take it for granted. But when I got here I was taking it in, all the signs, “Welcome to the NCAA,” “Welcome to Buffalo.” You know you’re really not going to see that again.”
After an uneventful flight where “we were messing around with each other and taking selfies” before everyone fell asleep, McMahon and the Wildcats arrive at their designated hotel - and that’s where McMahon’s trip takes an ugly turn. He gets JayVaughn Pinkston as his roommate.
“(Laughter) He’s a (slob),” McMahon said. “As much as I love him his stuff does tend to be on both sides of the room.”
McMahon, who stands 6-0 and weighs in at around a buck sixty-five compared to Pinkston’s 6-7, 240, then makes a rather wise decision.
“I’m not too confrontational about it,” he said. “I let him do what he has to do. I keep my stuff pretty neat but no matter how hard I try his always ends up here and there.” (Villanova’s Felix Unger and Oscar Madison will have to make the best of their Buffalo adventure).
Wednesday afternoon the Wildcats arrive at First Niagara Bank Arena for their practice session. They catch a brief glimpse of an old – and maybe future – foe. Villanova could possibly face UConn in a third-round game Saturday.
“UConn was on the court before us but (NCAA officials) do a good job of keeping all the teams way from each other,” McMahon said. “But it was an unbelievable atmosphere in a big-time arena. It was special walking in there. And we’re actually in the same hotel with Syracuse and we said “Hi” to those guys but like I said we do a good job of staying away from the other teams and staying focused.”
Thursday night at approximately 9:40 p.m. Villanova will take the court against Milwaukee in its tournament opener. Watching from the bench, McMahon said, is an experience unlike any other.
“Every game I’m like a little child at Christmas,” McMahon said. “But me personally, I love seeing these guys doing well. As a team we’re already excited about the tournament coming off that tough loss to Seton Hall. It left a bad taste in our mouth and we’ve waited all week and now we’re ready to get back there and get some wins under our belt.”