IBy Chris Boccia ’17
In one of the best-matched national championship games in recent memory, Villanova and North Carolina are locked in a 74-74 tie with just 4.7 seconds to play. Seconds earlier, UNC senior Marcus Paige has dropped an impossible three-point shot to tie the game, changing a hopeful Villanova attitude to one of disbelief. The Tar Heel faithful feel a steady comeback culminate in this unbelievable shot – a shot UNC thinks will take the game to overtime. On the Villanova bench, however, different ideas stir. The team has prepared for this: less than five seconds remain, 70 feet of hardwood floor separate the baseline and shooting range, and a there’s a shot to hit. These circumstances, paired with a feisty North Carolina defense, stand in the way of a potential game-winning shot. The play – the same one practiced every day – unfolds before the eyes of 22 million people. Point guard Ryan Arcidiacono treks the court quickly and with a steady dribble before dishing the perfect pass – and setting up the perfect screen – to junior Kris Jenkins. The shot is perfect. The moment Jenkins’ three-point game-winner falls, Nova Nation erupts in utter pandemonium. For the first time since 1985, the Wildcats are National Champions.
Villanova senior and four-year Wildcat Patrick Farrell, a 2012 alumnus of Chaminade High School, leapt from his seat on the ‘Nova bench and joined in the delirium near midcourt. But before Farrell cut down the nets with his teammates, he endured the last-minute drama from a different angle – the Villanova bench, just a few feet away from the action, with the stakes greater than none other than the men on the court and by his side.
Even when momentum seemed to have shifted in the final seconds of regulation, hope remained on the Villanova side. “Even after [Marcus Paige’s] shot, there was never a doubt that even if the game went into overtime, we were ready for whatever was next…once I knew there was time on the clock for us to get a shot off, I had full confidence,” Farrell said.
When asked about that final play – a play that will be remembered as one of sport’s best championship finishes – Farrell was resonant with confidence.
“As soon as that timeout was called everybody on our team knew what was coming,” he said. “We had 100-plus practices this year, and at the end of every single practice we run that end-of-game play that we actually ran – it’s called ‘Nova.’ We run it every single day, so it was really nothing new to us.”
Nothing new – and nothing but net. Kris Jenkins hit the clutch shot as the buzzer sounded, signifying the end of Villanova’s season – and five team seniors’ careers – with championship pedigree. On his response to the shot, Pat’s word of choice was “surreal” – so surreal that Farrell expected to be called back from the court rush and confetti celebration to be told that the shot didn’t count.
As one of five seniors on the 2016 NCAA Championship team, Farrell became an integral piece to Villanova’s courtside and locker room culture. Since making the team as a walk-on his freshman year, Farrell – along with fellow walk-ons Henry Lowe and Kevin Rafferty – was tasked with the formation of the “Bench Mob,” a unit designed to set the tone for Villanova Basketball.
“I felt a lot more responsibility, as did the four other seniors on our team, in just being able to lead this team and being able to get through the most difficult times,” said Farrell.
Speaking to his role with the Wildcats, Farrell added, “A lot of it for me and the other walk-ons was talking and meeting with the other players off the court and just explaining what was needed of them to help them be themselves, and just talk to them about what might be frustrating them so they can get over that.
Though Farrell’s minutes were limited in his four-year Villanova career, his impact on the team’s collective 113 wins over that time will be traced in the team’s greatest accomplishment – a national title.
Growing up in Rockville Centre, New York, Patrick Farrell was an athlete from the outset. At Chaminade, he was a four-year player for both basketball and lacrosse. Back in 2008, though, the 14-year old high school freshman had no idea he would be a part of a NCAA championship. Nevertheless, it should come as no shock that he made the highly competitive Wildcats team. In his four years at Chaminade, the Flyers reached the championship game three times, with a cumulative record of 61-30. Farrell, sporting the number 20, was a captain his freshman, sophomore, and senior years, and was named Junior Varsity Basketball Most Valuable Player under head coach Mr. Robert Hazelton ’82. As a senior, Farrell averaged 13.2 points and 10 rebounds per game under longtime head coach Mr. Jim Quinn.
As a player on and off the court, Farrell developed markedly in his J.V. season. In what Coach Hazelton called “one of the best years he had,” Pat “became more vocal and more assertive as a leader and more of a scorer on the basketball end” during his sophomore year. Coach Hazelton recalls a clinic that the team ran and a connection forged by Farrell and a young boy also named Patrick. Farrell later recognized and greeted the boy at a Chaminade basketball game months afterwards. “I felt he had a great heart,” explained Coach Hazelton.
When asked about his former player’s accomplishments with Villanova, Coach Hazelton was impressed with the basketball man Farrell had become.
“He sustained a great enthusiasm after four years as a starter,” said Coach Hazelton. “He understood being a teammate from that standpoint.”
Farrell reciprocated Coach Hazelton’s praise for the J.V. coach himself, saying, “Coach Hazelton put more trust in me my sophomore year, and it helped me develop as a player. He really instilled more confidence in me, gave me more responsibility regarding where I was on the court, and he just helped me develop, both there and off the court as a man.”
Farrell also believes Coach Hazelton’s involvement in the college search process to be a key in his decision to attend Villanova.
Farrell’s relationship with his varsity head coach, Coach Quinn, lives on to this day. The two talked after every tournament game and continue to stay in touch. Farrell recounted a special memory of Coach Quinn during his varsity seasons, saying, “I remember when we were in the playoffs my junior and senior years with Coach Quinn, he used to make us watch the One Shining Moment videos after every practice. It’s just really cool to be on that stage down in Houston and be able to watch One Shining Moment – I was definitely thinking of Coach Quinn when I was up there.”
Academically, Farrell was an outstanding student at Chaminade; he made the honor roll all four years and was a member of the National Honor Society. In 2012, Pat was accepted to Villanova University, where he is currently enrolled in the School of Business as a Finance major. In fact, the Villanova business school was ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek as the #1 Undergraduate Business Program in the United States. To this, Pat commended his educators and university: “It pays a lot of credit to how hard our teachers work here in the classroom and how hard our coaches work on the court with us, just developing us as people and as student-athletes.”
As a champion of the court – and metaphorically in the classroom – Pat is a part of two crowning programs.
“To be able to be a part of the number-one basketball team and the number-one business school in a year is something remarkable, and I think it speaks wonders about Villanova kids as a whole,” said Farrell.
With marked success at both Chaminade and Villanova, it is safe to say Pat Farrell is already shaping up to be a notable alumnus of two excellent institutions. Perhaps Coach Hazelton said it best: “Whether they won or not, four years in that program is a huge success.”
Pat Farrell’s complete response to the Wildcats’ unforgettable run, along with the team’s One Shining Moment and his take on his Chaminade experience, are logged in a one-on-one interview that will be available in Tarmac’s next in-print issue, coming out later this month.