The DiVincenzo Factor

DiVincenzoVillanova-superJumboDonte DiVincenzo winking after a shot against Michigan on Monday. He had 31 points, five rebounds and three assists and was voted Most Outstanding Player in Villanova’s 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Title win.

Credit Ronald Martinez/Getty Images        

Donte DiVincenzo’s name is just like his game: unique and intimidating. I mean, don’t you wish you could have a championship game like Donte DiVincenzo? You know, Villanova’s killer sixth man off the bench who just killed it against upstart Michigan? I mean he KILLED IT! He doesn’t start, and yet he scored thirty-one points, had block after block and timely three pointers to carry his team to victory. It was an impressive performance to say the least. 

One sports writer put it like this: “Had DiVincenzo been in a video game, flames would have been coming off his ball.”

The statistics — 31 points on 15 shots, five rebounds and three assists — still undersell the extent to which DiVincenzo was his team’s fulcrum Monday night. The team’s sixth man, he was the one who stopped the bleeding after the underdog Michigan surprised the 67,831 spectators in the Alamodome and millions more watching on television who had expected a fairly easy victory by Villanova, the top seed.

Before DiVincenzo scored his first basket, Michigan led 14-8. Villanova’s next 8 points were DiVincenzo’s: a 3-pointer, a 3-point play, a jump shot. DiVincenzo responded to ball screens by hitting long 3s from where he was standing or, once, finding Omari Spellman down low on a brilliant bounce pass.

On defense, during one stretch he forced a driving Zavier Simpson into a miss and then, on the next possession, the 6-foot-5 DiVincenzo straight-up blocked an attempted dunk by Charles Matthews. At one point, after back-to-back 3-pointers, DiVincenzo winked at the crowd. He later said he was aiming for Hart.

The moral of the story is this: every team needs a DiVincenzo on their bench because the DiVicenzo factor is so awe-inspiring it sends goose bumps up and down your spine. I’m so happy for him. He could have been a starter on any other team. Instead, he sacrificed playing time and came off of the bench and put the team first. And the end result was another National Championship for Villanova. AND he was rewarded and voted Most Outstanding Player for the Final Four. Wow. March Madness surely went out with a bang.

Sounds like we all could learn a lesson or two from Vilanova and Mr. DiVincenzo. Can you pronounce his name right yet?

A.B.D. — Anybody But Duke?

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I went to the University of Maryland so I have to hate Duke. I mean, I HAVE to. Even though Maryland abandoned the ACC for the Big Ten Conference, I still have to hate Duke. Right?

But Why? Why do I have to hate a team that is so great? Why do I deem to dislike and despise and deride and disparage a team that is good ALL of the time, and seems to be great most of a great deal of the time? Just because my team isn’t as good, or can’t beat them, or got beat down by them? Sounds good to me.

Nope. That can’t be right. Seriously, sometimes we don’t even know why we do certain deeds or think certain ways or say certain words.

So why DO people hate certain teams? Why do people yell at the Yankees and the cuss at the Cowboys and loathe the LA Lakers, and detest “le team du jour” . . . DUKE! I mean, they just won another — their fifth — national Men’s Basketball Championship. They came back from nine points down late in the game, and won going away. They have Coach K, the all-time winningest coach coaching today. They have Tyus Jones and they attract the best talent from near and far, and, of course, they’re Duke.

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Why do people hate certain winners and love other losers? Why do we root for the ugly team and rile on the pretty team? And why do we hate Duke? So much?

We must be wired wrong, because Duke just did it again. Duke just beat the team that beat undefeated Kentucky. Duke just showed that you can win with four freshmen in the lineup. Duke just proved that all kids today aren’t all that bad. Duke just did it.

And here’s the tie in:

Why do people doubt and question and suspect and disbelieve God? Because He seems unreachable and unapproachable and unfathomable and undiscernible? Because we don’t like the way things are and somebody’s got to take the blame? Because we don’t have what we want and somebody else finds what we fancy and we are jealous and envious and desirous of what the Dukes of the world have that we don’t? Like hating Duke, these are no reasons to hate and hold out on God.

Duke just proved that you can succeed when you have haters and doubters and cynics and skeptics and everything else in between. So have hope. Don’t sweat it. Don’t hate. Don’t be jealous. Be thankful for what you have and grateful for what you don’t have; and that’s the burdens and the bundles and the baggage that so many other’s do have.

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Duke did it. And nobody I know picked Duke. And there might not be anybody that’s picking you. But don’t let that stop you. Duke did it. And you can too.