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Why the Villanova Women’s Basketball Team Deserves More Recognition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Villanova chapter.

Many Villanova fans felt that this year was a discouraging year for Villanova basketball. The unexpected retirement of Jay Wright put fans on edge, with many reluctant to accept Kyle Neptune as head coach. Fans had been spoiled with all-stars and a victory in the Big East Tournament practically every year. This 2023 season looked very different with a rocky season of 17 wins and 17 losses. Some of our most notable men’s players are leaving, including freshman Cam Whitmore, who is going to the NBA draft. On top of this, Neptune has only one recruit coming to Nova for next year. The icing on the cake was the first-round loss in the NIT tournament (that’s a thing?) to Liberty University after not qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Oh, and by the way, the last time we didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament was in 2005. 

However, heartbroken fans, do not despair! The Lady Cats put on an excellent season with 30 wins and 7 losses, becoming the fourth seed in the NCAA tournament. Villanova crushed the first two games at home and marched on to the Sweet Sixteen, where they faced the University of Miami. By the 3rd quarter, Villanova was down 21 points, which seemed like an insurmountable number to come back from. But, by pure determination and teamwork, Villanova took the lead in the middle of the 4th quarter at 64-63. While this victory did not last, fans ran to the Villanova women’s Instagram page (@novahwbb) offering their pride and loyalty to a team that has fought so hard.  

What made the women and the men different this year? I believe a huge factor was team chemistry, along with uncontrollable transitional shifts. Women’s coach Denise Dillon has proven time and time again that support during a high-pressure game can make a huge difference. After good plays, the girls on the court embrace each other. Oftentimes, you can see them mouth encouraging statements like “you got this!” to each other. The women sitting on the bench make their encouragement known as well. I feel like Coach Kyle Neptune struggles to regain the team chemistry that Jay Wright fostered, with many players appearing to be resistant to his coaching.  

Additionally, transitional shifts in players have backed the men’s team into a corner, after losing starters Colin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels this past year. The women’s team was able to retain their star player, Maddy Siegrist. Most people gravely underestimate Siegrist’s ability. I think the shortcomings of the men’s team this year finally allowed Nova to showcase Siegrist and her talents. Siegrist has more basketball accomplishments at Villanova than any other player, and it’s time that we stopped overlooking it.  

This season, Maddy became the all-time leading scorer for both men’s and women’s basketball. But she didn’t stop there. In the 2022-2023 season, she has also become the Philadelphia Big 5 all-time leading scorer, the fifth player in Division 1 basketball history to score 1,000 points in a single season, the highest scorer for a single NCAA game in Villanova history, the first player in this century to score 20 or more points in 36 consecutive games, BIG EAST record holder for most points scored in a single game, and the BIG EAST’s all-time leading scorer. And that’s just a few. 

In the moments when we can choose to channel our energy on anger for the poor performance of the men’s basketball team, it’s time to redirect this energy to honoring the accomplishments of the women’s basketball team and their star and our fellow Wildcat, Maddy Siegrist.  

Lily Renga

Villanova '24

Villanova sophomore majoring in marketing and minoring in business analytics, creative writing, and communications.