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by Mark Mullany

I am deeply saddened by the fact that another semester is coming to a close. This means I am one step closer to leaving Villanova, but I’ve still got two whole years remaining.

I just hope they are a lot slower than the first two.

Anyway, the end of the semester also means that summer will be upon us. Unlike most college students, however, athletes do not take a summer vacation (except for football).

Since a lot of sports will be played between now and the start of next semester, I want to use this column to break down all the sports-related things I would like to see between now and Aug. 26, the day us rising seniors, juniors and sophomores return to hitting the books.

Philadelphia Phillies will contend for the NL East Division title

The Eagles, Sixers and Flyers all missed their respective playoffs this year. I can’t handle watching another Philly team become irrelevant.

I need Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to hit the rewind buttons on their careers.

They don’t need to be in contention for CY Youngs, Golden Gloves or MVPs—just the National League East Division.

The Phillies are passing their peak, while the Atlanta Braves are built to win now, and the Washington Nationals are built to win for a few years.

The division is competitive, but I think if the right stars line up, or the Phillies get hot after All-Star break, they might make the playoffs. Those Fightin’ Phils tend to win in July, August and September.

If the Phillies win the NL East title, they will salvage Philadelphia sports for the year—I will do backflips on the Kennedy Ellipse.

Miami Heat or Oklahoma Thunder win NBA Finals

The NBA playoffs are underway. Sixteen teams. One championship. The NBA playoffs go…BIG (I could be a script writer for NBA commercials, but being sports editor is way more fun).

I am jonesing for the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma City Thunder to bring home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

I don’t know where the rest of Nova Nation stands on Heat superstar LeBron James, but he’s my boy (I got you, junior Sam Ellison).

Lebron is like that friend who occasionally says silly things or makes a spectacle of himself, but at the end of the day, he’s a great ballplayer.

More importantly, he is finally living up to his nicknames—“Chosen One” and “King James.” LBJ is the best player in the game right now.

He singlehandedly carried the Heat through last year’s playoffs. Nothing was crazier than when he dropped 45 points on the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Additionally, he essentially ended the Big 3 when the Heat slayed the Celts, eliminating them from title contention in Game Seven.

As Steven A. Smith was heard saying after the game said, “It’s the first time that I can recall seeing one man [James] beating an entire team.”

Since getting over the championship hump, Bron-Bron has no excuse for not adding rings to his fingers.

The Heat stacked up 65 wins in the regular season, which is the best Lebron, Dwayne Wade and Chris “Bumble” Bosh have done together. All signs point to a Miami repeat title.

But then there’s my quiet homie, OKC’s own Kevin Durant, or as my brother calls him, “DooDoo Jump.”

The man dedicates his life to basketball so much that he did not attend his high school prom.

While some might say he’s weird or anti-social, let me ask you this—who do you think is more popular now, the prom queen or DooDoo Jump?

He’s one of the league’s top scorers, and was a series away from being called an NBA Champion. Now with Westbrook injured, KD has a chance to show he can win the Finals Trophy without an all-star point guard scoring 25 points.

If the Thunder win it all this year, the KD may stand for “King Durant.”

Whether the Heat, or the Thunder, win the NBA Championship, the game of basketball will grow the most from one of these teams winning.

Lebron and Durant are the future of the league, if not the present’s best already. If they win enough rings and make enough phenomenal plays, they might have their names mentioned along with Magic, Larry and Jordan as all-time greats.

Villanova men’s lacrosse wins the Big East Championship

With the domination over Providence last Saturday, the Wildcats won the regular season Big East Championship and clinched a No. 1 seed in this weekend’s Big East Tournament.

I am beyond psyched for the tournament because ’Nova will be chasing the Tournament Crown right in our backyard: Villanova Stadium.

Also, the Big East champions receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. If the ’Cats take their rightful Big East throne, they can contend in the national tournament because they know what it is like to face top competition.

Unfortunately, last year did not go according to plan—’Nova lost in the first round of the Conference Tournament to Syracuse, who went on to become the Big East Tournament Champions.

This time the outcome will be different.

The Wildcats had a brutal non-conference schedule, facing ranked teams like Lehigh, Drexel, Princeton, Penn, Penn State and Maryland, which was the No. 1 team in the country when it faced ’Nova.

While the ’Cats went 1-6 in non-conference play, they were fully prepared for their Big East rivals.

’Nova knocked off Big East ranked teams, such as Syracuse and St. John’s, and put away other rivals, like Georgetown, Rutgers and Providence.

Notre Dame, which was ranked No. 2, at the time, was the only Big East team to beat ’Nova.

I see no reason why the Wildcats cannot win the Big East Tournament. They are undefeated at home against conference opponents.

In tonight’s semifinal, ’Nova will face Georgetown Hoyas. Last time the ’Cats played the Hoyas, they beat Georgetown on its own field.

After being down 5-2 to the Hoyas, the Wildcats charged back with a 6-1 run to take the victory, 8-6.

Don’t be surprised if senior attacker Jack Rice has an excellent tournament; he’s the leading goal scorer with 30 on the regular season.

He is also one of the top three goal scorers in Villanova history, totaling 121.

Personally, I’m hoping for a ’Nova-’Cuse rematch for Saturday’s Championship round, so that the Wildcats could prove last year’s loss was a fluke.

I sure would love to spell redemption with N-O-V-A.

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