Watching your children grow up is never easy.
You feel for them each time they stumble, trying to help them along so they can gain enough confidence to believe one day they can do things on their own without your help.
Even then, as proud as you are letting them spread their wings, it’s difficult letting go.
But as Villanova’s Jay Wright has watched guard Ryan Arcidiacono mature from a scared freshman with a sweet shooting stroke into a solid senior, who will do whatever it takes to produce a victory, he can’t help but be proud.
He knows the kid has come a long way.
“I think he’s always just does what our team needs,” said Wright, after Arcidiacono scored 14 points and handed out seven assists to help the 8-1 Wildcats erase the bad vibes from their 78-55 loss to Oklahoma with a 76-47 whipping of neighborhood rival La Salle Sunday. “His freshman and sophomore years we needed him to score more than run the show.
“Last year we needed him to run the show more and he did it. This year it’s actually nice because he’s probably playing his most comfortable position. He’s moving the ball as a lead guard, but we also play him off the ball where he can create a shot for himself and for others.He’s very, very efficient.”
The 6-foot-3 Arcidiacono, who’s filled out from a scrawny kid to 195 pounds– which he credits to better nutrition — made all five of his shots from the field, as the Wildcats riddled LaSalle’s defense by hitting 23 of their first 35 shots to bust this one open early.That included a 9-for-10 stretch reminiscent of the second half of their 1985 NCAA championship game vs. Georgetown, as Nova wound up shooting 54.9 percentfor the night, 13-for-28 from 3-point range.
It was also a dramatic contrast from their 4-for-32 3-point abomination vs. Oklahoma, which might’ve shaken some team’s confidence. But not Villanova’s.
“People can talk about what they want,” said Arcidiacono, who’s shooting at a 52 percentclip for the season, while averaging 12.3 points per game.“We know we’re good shooters.We talked about that game on the way home and asked everyone what we could’ve done better.Then we just got back top practice and started focusing on the next game.
“We usually do a good job as a team responding. We took better shots tonight than we did against Oklahoma.”
They also did more of the little things Wright said were missing against the Sooners, with Arcidiacono and junior Josh Hart(18 points) leading a parade of five players in double figures.For the kid from Neshaminy, who arrived on campus after missing his senior year due back surgery which has long since healed, it’s not all that complicated.
“Now that I’m as senior I’ve been through it all,” said Arch, Big East co-player of the year last season along with Providence’s Kris Dunnand a first team all Big East selection “I’m confident in my game and my ability.
“Last year and the end of my sophomore year I played okay.I could’ve scored more, but he (Wright) wanted me to be the point guard and facilitate the offense. I’m just getting older now.”
And, as Villanova opponents are quickly finding out to their dismay, better.