Talking about that night at Rupp Arena, a lot of memories float through, "little things," Harold Jensen said - huddling during late time-outs, feeling "so determined, so confident." Walking over to kiss dying trainer Jake Nevin on his head in the final seconds. Getting the basketball inbounds to Dwayne McClain at the very end.
The score of the 1985 NCAA title game hasn't changed - Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 - so 24 years out, the guy who took five shots in "The Perfect Game" and made them all still gets "Aren't you . . .?"
"It's never been tiring to talk about, to hear about, to see highlights of - you feel lucky to be a part of it," Jensen said yesterday, admitting that in some ways, it could be a burden. "There is a little bit of an expectation that goes with it, a winning expectation. It's an interesting emotion."
He never ran from it, never left the area. Jensen, 44, lives in Wayne, is married with two children, and is the vice president of sales and marketing for a trade marketing company.
The outside world thinks of this as one of the upsets for the ages, but Jensen remembers sitting in the stands watching Georgetown play St. John's in the second semifinal game, hoping the Hoyas would win. Most Villanova players felt that way, he said.
"I think guys were comfortable playing Georgetown," Jensen said. "We had the toughest time playing St. John's. During that two-year stretch, I think we lost seven in a row to them. They had a tough time beating Georgetown, we had a tough time beating them."
It's easy to forget now how successful Rollie Massimino was coaching in the NCAA tournament, winning 20 of the 30 NCAA games that 'Nova played in under him. His players don't remember Massimino being any different that night, preaching about hanging together, hunkering down, that nobody could rip them apart.
"We knew their defensive intensity," said Jensen, who hit a 16-footer that put Villanova up two with 21/2 minutes left. "We executed very well, got good shots, out of the natural flow. I think that was painful for them. We could feel it and we could see it how frustrated they were that they couldn't get to us, couldn't get to us mentally and intimidate us, and also couldn't create that havoc.
"They would beat teams in two-minute spurts, get a few steals, some fastbreaks, get a 10-point run, then have another spurt later. The game would be over. They couldn't do that."
You don't have to play a perfect game to win "The Perfect Game." Villanova had 17 turnovers that night. But Jensen thought the turnovers were spaced out pretty well, preventing those Hoya runs. He had six turnovers himself. He remembers throwing a couple of passes out of bounds, looking for somebody.
"At least you have a chance to set up your defense," Jensen said.
Yes, 'Nova made 22 of 28 shots, which is where the "perfect" hyperbole came from, but they also won the game at the foul line, making 22 of 27 while Georgetown got to the line just eight times. Usually, the aggressor gets to the line more. It's interesting to think of that game in those terms, as 'Nova forwards Ed Pinckney, Dwayne McClain, and Harold Pressley combined for all but three of the frontcourt minutes, going up against Patrick Ewing and company.
"We had a great front line, we really did. They all played in the NBA," Jensen said. "Those guys were the real deal. They were great athletes, great competitors, and they were all smart players, just very smart players. I think that was the key. Our guard play was solid. I think our front line was pretty special."
For himself, "there were times when the game feels fast, and at times at a good pace, and you're in the game. It was a good pace for me that night. I just felt in rhythm. I hit my first shot not long after I came in. That settled me."
And Jensen makes the point that 'Nova didn't slow the game down much except for the end of each half.
"Our game was 66-64," Jensen said. "There have been quite a few games in this year's tournament with scores in that range. As much as the game has changed, there's something there that's kept the scores the same."
Mark Plansky, who played one minute that night and starred on future teams, said Massimino knew how to push different buttons, knew he could throw Pinckney out of practice and get him to respond while taking a softer touch with other guys.
"He knew who needed the fire, who needed the hug," Jensen said. "I was a difficult guy for him, I needed both. I was a little bit of a pain in the butt. He would get after me, he would tell me to go back to being "High School Harry," go back to Connecticut, then we'd come back to the office, we'd talk and we'd cry and we'd hug."
Jensen was a sophomore that year, the youngest starter. When the '85 team gets together, he'll always be the young guy.
"No question, if I see Dwayne McClain or Eddie, there's definitely still a sense of [them] taking care of you," Jensen said. "They're terrific guys. I don't mind the role one bit."
One time, Jensen was at a hotel in the Caribbean, on the island of Nevis.
"I was at a bar at the pool. Somebody was talking about basketball," Jensen said. "I had my championship ring on. The guy saw it."
Jensen said who he was.
"Get out of here," the guy said. "You're not that guy."