Take a bunch of nice kids, dump in gobs of fiery Italian seasoning, mix in copious measures of robust Augustinian teaching, and stir gently for four years. That’s the winning recipe that transformed April Fool’s Day 1985 into a feast for underdogs and everymen everywhere. March Madness maddened to the max that year with the crowning of perhaps the NCAA Tournament’s most unlikely champion, the Villanova Wildcats. The most unlikely and perhaps the most liked team to ever win the championship, the Villanova kids won the nation over with courtesy and class more than jump shots and slam dunks. The NCAA final was supposed to be a slam dunk for Georgetown, the defending national champions. But ’Nova never buckled under "Hoya Paranoia," the fear factor that paralyzed most Georgetown opponents in the John Thompson era. Paternal coach Rollie Massimino drilled commitment, loyalty, and honor into his "family" as much as Xs and Os. The result was a poised, disciplined, and undaunted quintet who played what some have called the perfect basketball game where they sizzled the cords with unprecedented 78.6 percent shooting accuracy. Wildcat icon Ed Pinckney, along with teammates and other members of Coach Mass’s "family," relate the tale of how "Villa-nowhere," as the ’Cats were dubbed before A
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Ed Pinckney’s role in Villanova’s singular athletic achievement – the 1985 NCAA Championship – has already earned him a retired jersey that hangs in the Pavilion rafters. Now he has returned to his alma mater to help teach a new generation of Wildcats as an assistant coach. Pinckney spent 12 years in the NBA after being a first-round draft choice of the Phoenix Suns in 1985. As a collegian he was one of the finest players in Villanova history and was named Most Outstanding Player for his 16-point, six-rebound effort in the university’s epic 66-64 upset of heavily favored Georgetown that secured their only NCAA title. Pinckney and his wife reside in Villanova, Pennsylvania, and have four children.
Robert Gordon has authored two other books for Sports Publishing about beloved, overachieving Philadelphia teams, including More Than Beards, Bellies, and Biceps: The Story of the 1993 Phillies. Besides writing books, the former energy industry executive currently energizes a number of businesses on team building, leadership, and communication strategy. He is a respected regional travel and restaurant writer, a humor columnist, and a guitar teacher who also performs around Philly and abroad.
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