Harry Perretta tries not to think about it, but he knows it’s coming.
Perretta walked up and down the coaches’ box, pacing like it was any other game, but it wasn’t. Perretta was coaching his final Big East opener.
”I’m just trying to coach each game as it comes along and not think about that,” Perretta said. “I think these guys need me to coach them constantly, so I can’t be focused on something else.”
Perretta was as passionate as ever. He could be heard at any seat in the Finneran Pavilion, yelling out calls and demands. He coaches several offensive possessions from a knee. One Villanova turnover led to the 64-year old Perretta catapulting onto the scorers table, using his knees and hands to stabilize him.
The game was just as dramatic. Villanova (6-5) defeated Providence (9-4), 51-49. The Wildcats led by 12 after three quarters, but Providence closed strong and had a chance to win it before failing to get a shot off at the buzzer.
Villanova’s Madison Siegrist and Mary Gedaka combined for 36 points. Those numbers against Providence perfectly sum up the season. The duo has averaged 38 of Villanova’s 62 points per game. No one else averages double-figures.
”It’s hard,” Perretta said. “They take good shots. Unfortunately, you have to be able to make a couple of them.”
Perretta was hired in 1978 at the tender age of 22. He became the youngest head coach for a Villanova women’s varsity program.
The energy he displayed against Providence was a shell of his sideline ways two decades ago. Gedaka’s mom played for Villanova and Perretta, so she hears the older stories and sees him every day in practice now.
”It’s hard to play for him sometimes, but you have to separate the idea of he’s always trying to put you in the best position to be successful,” Gedaka said. “It might look a little crazy from the sidelines, but that’s really how Harry is.”
Perretta is a four-time Big East Coach of the Year and five-time Philadelphia Big 5 Coach of the Year. Even though he doesn’t want to acknowledge what is ahead, his team is well aware, which is why the win against Providence was important.
”It’s really an honor for us all,” Gedaka said. “Just understanding the tradition and legacy he has left on not only Villanova women‘s basketball but women’s basketball in general. Being able to get this win for him is really special.”