Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jay Shows The Way!

From Phil Sheridan in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Jay Wright started outcoaching UCLA's Ben Howland long before tip-off of their second-round NCAA tournament game yesterday.
Howland, whose teams had been in the last three Final Fours, made it all-too-loudly known that he was unhappy playing Villanova in the Wachovia Center. That would be understandable if Howland's teams hadn't been assigned to Anaheim, San Diego, and Sacramento for the opening weekends of those three tournaments. UCLA left California just once before the Final Four in three years.
Sometimes a coach can motivate his players by giving them a grudge to nurse. Howland managed to plant an excuse in his players' minds. Wright had his 'Nova team stoked to smash the Bruins in the mouth - figuratively, of course - with fierce defense and relentless offensive pressure. The Bruins' response was to whine to the officials. . . .

Wright has begun to establish his own legacy at Villanova and, therefore, in Philadelphia basketball. In just eight seasons on the Main Line, Wright has earned a place among the best coaches in the city's storied history.
"If you're the coach at Villanova, you're going to be good," Wright said. "Every coach that's been there has won. It's not me. It's every coach."
Actually, there's more to it than the blue-and-white unis and the picture-pretty campus in Radnor Township. Wright has done an exceptional job.
After going to the NIT his first three years at 'Nova, Wright has taken a team to the NCAA tournament five years in a row. Four times, the Wildcats have advanced to the round of 16. Three years ago, they made it to within a game of the Final Four, losing to eventual national champion Florida in the round of eight.
Wright's 'Nova teams have a 9-4 record in the NCAA tournament. He has advanced now with completely different teams. So Wright isn't a potential Big Five Hall of Fame coach. He's a future Big Five Hall of Fame coach. . . .
The bracket is set up to give 'Nova games against Duke and Big East rival Pittsburgh in Boston. There is nothing easy about either of those games. There isn't supposed to be.
Play the way they did against UCLA for 40 minutes and the Wildcats could beat anyone. That kind of defensive energy and smart, balanced offensive attack would be effective anywhere, any time.
"We had six guys in double figures," Wright said. "That's big time. That's a good team."
Yes, and it's a very well-coached team, too.

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