In a corner of the ecstatic Villanova locker room this afternoon, John (Jake) Nevin sat watching the scene, a huge grin on his face and one of the nets draped around his neck.

Jake Nevin, who is so small that he always had his own seat in front of the Wildcats' bench, has been the head trainer at Villanova since 1929. He gives his age as 39.

One year ago, he was diagnosed as having Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is considered terminal. When told that he had the disease, his reaction was, "How can I have Lou Gehrig's Disease when I never played baseball?"

Since then, Nevin has been confined to a wheelchair. Still, he comes to practice every day and sits at the end of the bench. On Feb. 27, before Villanova's last home game, Nevin became the first in school history to have a jersey retired. The number: 1.

After the Wildcats had reached the Final Four for the third time in school (and Nevin's) history, with their 56-44 victory over North Carolina, the players draped one of the nets around him.

The little man's eyes glistened. Around him, everyone else was crying.