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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

An unmatched rivalry


Comparing teams in the “Holy War”

The St. Joe’s  men’s basketball team faced off against the Villanova Wildcats for yet another battle of this year’s “Holy War” on Dec. 2.  The final score was Villanova 94 to St. Joe’s 53.

This Holy War, ironically, has turned into less of a war, and more of a David versus Goliath story.

The two teams are comparable in one sense as both programs have extremely reputable histories. St. Joe’s was once a national powerhouse and no stranger to advancing in March Madness. Their contrast, however, stems not from their honored traditions, but from current national success and relevance.

To put it in simple terms, despite the 2014-15 Hawks season led by DeAndre’ Bembry ’17, the two teams are on different levels of basketball. From the national recognition to things like funding and sponsorships, the Villanova Wildcats are just a bigger and more legitimate team.

It is irresponsible to continue to pin these two teams as having some sort of rivalry when the intensity of the hype is not matched appropriately on the court. With respect to tradition, and acknowledging that this contest has reached levels of tremendous esteem, the Holy War has lost its game day experience.

While dissecting these two teams, it is important to understand that in no way is St. Joe’s a substandard or sophomoric program or team. The Hawks are a very good team, and deserve all of the credit that they earn. They consistently give hard-fought battles, are able to recruit some of the most highly-touted prospects and have one of the most distinguished coaches in all of college basketball with head coach Phil Martelli.

Villanova’s team has similar roots. Thanks to a buzzer beater three pointer by Kris Jenkins, the Wildcats triumphed over Kansas to win the National Title in 2016. In recent years, basketball experts and fans alike have placed Villanova as one of the most dominant teams in the nation, and they are mentioned among legendary programs such as Duke, North Carolina and even Kentucky.

The Hawks came out strong and kept a tight game until around the end of the first half on Saturday. Freshman Taylor Funk continued to display his importance to the team with another strong performance. Senior James Demery specifically stepped up as a leader and veteran presence, along with senior Shavar Newkirk. Villanova eventually began to run away with the game, silencing the crowd and putting a damper on the game’s ability to keep the crowd enthused. It seemed as though throughout the game there was a fear that eventually the Wildcats would run away with it, and unfortunately, that was ultimately the case.

Philly-area and Mainline families and friends packed the Hagan Arena. Although the game itself wasn’t the most inspiring, the loyalty of the St. Joe’s fans and the incredible atmosphere of the stadium still holds true to tradition. It’s safe to say that there will always be something special about the Villanova and St. Joe’s contests and quarrels.

It is difficult to imagine a season in the near future where the Hawks can fully compete with the Wildcats, but it still seems as though there could be hope that St. Joe’s could sneak in another win against the Villanova team in any given year.

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