Editor’s note: this article originally ran on Jan 8, we update it now and put it back at the top of the feed in the wake of tonight’s shocking news. Jay Wright, 60, has surprisingly retired from coaching. Kyle Neptune will now take over the Villanova program.
In the first half of #15 Villanova’s 79-64 win at DePaul, a Blue Demons fan heckled Jay Wright by yelling “Put a suit on Jay, you look like an AAU coach.” Wright was indeed going track suit casual today, at WinTrust Arena, but his coaching resume is black tie/dressed to the nines.
Once Mike Krzyzewski steps down at the end of the season, Villanova's Jay Wright will be 1 of just 2 active NCAA Div 1 coaches with 2 #NationalChampionship s
Iona's Rick Pitino is the other pic.twitter.com/RwxTZ0EscX
— Paul M. Banks (@PaulMBanks) January 8, 2022
At a time when college basketball coaching is experiencing a big time star drain, Jay Wright looks to ascend to a position where he’ll be one of the primary faces of the sport. See the statistic below:
Roy Williams recently retired. Coach K. is stepping down at the end of this season. While John Calipari, Tom Izzo and Bill Self are all much bigger brand names than Wright, they all have just one national title apiece, while he has two.
In 21 seasons leading the Main Line Program, he has led Villanova to the 2016 and 2018 National Championships, three Final Fours, and a combination of 12 Big East Regular Season and Tournament Championships. Wright won the National Coach of the Year award in 2006 and 2016.
Addition to the Associated Press’ Coach of the Decade for the 2010s.
The marketing of college basketball is all about promoting the coaches, most specifically, Krzyzewski and Izzo. And now with one of those two stepping away, maybe Jay Wright becomes the guy that gets plugged with regularity now?
He certainly has both the CV and the pedigree to ascend to that role.
“Attitude sustains us, and is the foundation for all that we do on and off the court,” Wright said in his Hall of Fame speech this past September.
We asked Wright what has been the key to maintaining that attitude, keeping that fine edge over the years in order to maintain that consistently high standard.
“I would hope that it’s the intelligence of our players,” he answered. Our guys respect DePaul, we know they’re good. Our players have a humility and an intelligence about ’em to understand that if you’re not playing your best, against any team in this league, you’re going to get beat.
We were blown out by Creighton. We’re not embarrassed by it, they were great, we were off a little bit. We learned from it.”
The win, in which Villanova trailed by 5 at halftime, put the Wildcats up 31-8 in the all-time series with DPU, 19-0 in Big East conference play.
A huge part of coaching success is making halftime adjustment, and you saw Jay Wright discussed what the keys to success, regarding half-time adjustments, were on this day.
“We knew we were going to get our guys back (from foul trouble),” he responded. “So it was no fear of failure, keep grinding.”
DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield marveled at the unselfish way that the Wildcats play, and how Wright has built up the Cats program:
“they have a lot of pieces and they’re gonna share the basketball, make that extra pass..they know who they are, the guys that he’s recruited, and getting their identity.”
“For a couple years they struggled a little bit, when they went to get a McDonald’s All-American, top 30 kind of player, and that’s not what they’re built on. Then they got back to getting the kinds of guys that knows what it means to put that Villanova jersey on and play Villanova basketball.”
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”