White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama welcomed the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball champions, the Villanova Wildcats, to the White House Tuesday, calling their March Madness performance “as memorable a run and as memorable a championship game as I can remember” and “maybe the best title game of all time.”
“These Wildcats were about more than just one moment or one shot,” Obama said. “They had unbelievable defense. They had great clutch-shooting. A senior class that won more games than any group in Wildcats history. They had a stable of talented players who were as happy hitting the deck for a loose ball as they were cutting down the nets.”
Per usual, the president singled out several star players not only for their achievements on the court, but also for their contributions to the Philadelphia community off the court, including their support for the Special Olympics.
“Their grades ranked in the top 10 percent nationally. That’s worth applauding,” Obama observed. “All five seniors graduated. In fact, ever since the 1970s, the Wildcats have graduated every four-year player, and that’s the kind of record that you really want.”
Obama observed the absence of the “most important” Villanova graduate at the White House, Dr. Jill Biden.
“I think she may be teaching, but her husband Joe wanted me to remind you that he picked ‘Nova to win it all. This is the type of wise counsel that you are looking for from a Vice President,” Obama joked. “Unfortunately, I didn’t follow his counsel and so my bracket was busted.”
The president singled out coach Jay Wright as “the best-dressed man in college basketball” and “the George Clooney of coaches.”
“We celebrate a remarkable team that worked tirelessly to make Coach look good in terms of his job and not just his wardrobe,” Obama said, drawing more laughter. “His tailor and stylist could not make it, but we do have his basketball players here.”
Obama also called out Josh Hart, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, and asked where he went to high school.
“Sidwell Friends,” Hart answered, identifying the private high school the president’s daughter is about to finish.
“My daughter will be graduating from there next week, which makes me cry when I talk about it, so I’m not going to talk about it,” Obama said. “But it was good to see a Sidwell kid do well.”
After recognizing Kris Jenkins, who hit the game winner at the buzzer, Obama butchered the pronunciation of Ryan Arcidiacano, who delivered Villanova’s most crucial assist on the game’s final play.
“Now, I just sped through that in case I didn’t say it right,” he admitted. “Barack Obama is tough, but Arcidiacano, man, that’s a lot of vowels in there so we’re just going to call him Arch.”
Coach Wright praised Obama as “a great leader” and presented him with a No. 44 jersey he said was worn during their competition in Pearl Harbor last December.
“We really want to thank you,” Wright said. “And it says on there, ‘For your great leadership, your service to our country, you’re truly a great role model for our young men.’ We want them to be great leaders like you, and we thank you for everything you do for our country, and we welcome you to the ‘Nova nation with your Villanova jersey.”
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