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NCAA MEN'S 1ST AND 2ND ROUNDS: PITTSBURGH

March 16, 2018

Jay Wright

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Q. Jay, what's it like the tick tock of after the Alabama game ends, what your staff and you do to prepare for practice today? What's a little bit of a tick tock of how it goes?
COACH WRIGHT: You watch that game and immediately the staff goes live to watch the game. The team does all of the media and really misses, probably half -- the first half during media, and then go back, eat, and watch the game together.

We actually have started to not make the guys watch the game because we'd rather have them see the game after they know who they're playing. We did that for the play-in game and we've done it for this game. And then the coaching staff, when the coaches get back from the game, then you get together and you start working on your scouting report.

Now, one assistant has already been watching, but now the whole staff comes together. And then you get up early this morning, you refine it. Guys come in for breakfast, you meet with them after breakfast, go over the scouting report, go over film. And then you come here, and walk through it and shoot, and defend what they run. Then you do media, and then eat, rest up, and watch video, because there's a scout again tonight.

Q. What's your scouting reports, in layman's terms?
COACH WRIGHT: A very -- a very unique team in that they do a great job of defining everybody's roles and staying consistent in what they do, no matter what you do defensively. Like Sexton's making plays, you know, Petty's there to shoot. They've got a great inside-out game. Ingram can make plays. They keep great spacing, they've always got guys -- two bigs around the basket. Two guys on the offensive glass.

Very aggressive defensively and very active. Makes it very difficult for you to really execute offense smoothly, you know? Great length, just a really interesting team. I don't know if we've faced a team like this, a really difficult match-up.

Q. Jay, I know I don't have to tell you about your team's history in this game. Talking to Ryan and Daniel today, they talked about two years ago how they just stopped caring. They didn't listen. They didn't care about that anymore. Did you sense that this team has that attitude, and if not, can you bring it to them between now and noon tomorrow?
COACH WRIGHT: Well, it's interesting, that group in '16, we had -- you would know -- we had lost how many times? How many, three? Three times in the second round. So, they did, they're like, we've done this, we'll get killed again. When we lose it, we know how to handle that. So they really didn't care. It was different for them.

This group doesn't know anything about it. I mean, they probably heard it, but they haven't experienced it. All these guys have experienced is a National Championship, and last second-round loss, so we don't even talk about it with them. And purposely. I don't want to.

And so each group's different. You just deal with what's the vibe of that current group. These guys, I think Jalen Brunson said it best. These guys have said, we know the best of this tournament, where we won it all, and we know the worst when you getting knocked out early. So we just respect the fact that anything can happen.

Q. Two-part question, I guess. One, do you think that there's such a thing as momentum in this early in the tournament. And if so, do you think 8 and 9-seeded teams have inherently more advantage given that they come off (inaudible).
COACH WRIGHT: Definitely, we've actually address that with that team. It's something we've experienced a number of times that maybe you come off as the 1 seed, you come off an easier game. And things went well and you made all your shots and all of a sudden you get into a battle with a big physical team, kind of getting smacked in the face to start the game.

You've got withstand that initial surge where they've already played in a real physical battle. We compare it to the Big East Tournament where we have, in past years, been fortunate enough to get a bye, so the team that plays the night before plays a tough game on that court. Now they're coming at you after a really tough game and you didn't play. And the beginning of the game, they're hitting shots. They're aggressive. And it's your first game. So we kind of compare it to that.

Q. Jay, not to belabor the point, of the four times Nova was 1 or 2 seed, you lost this game to St. Mary's, UConn, N.C. State, and Wisconsin. Does one of them sting or hurt more than the others? Is there one you thought this was the year you were really going to roll, win it all, and go to the Final Four and one got worse than the other?
COACH WRIGHT: No. They all hurt the same. They really do. We were a 1 seed in all those?

Q. 1 or 2.
COACH WRIGHT: If you're 1 or 2, you think you got a pretty good team. One of the things we do always think about this tournament, we do know enough about the tournament that anything can happen. I've said this a million times, but, one year we played Clemson, think we were a 12 and they were a 5 or something like that. We were down 20 in the first half. We come back and win. Siena upsets Vanderbilt and we get to the Sweet 16, and we were not a Sweet 16 that year, but we got celebrated as a Sweet 16.

So we take it both ways. Not one of those hurts any more than the other. I think the one that was probably surprising was the year we played Connecticut. They probably should have lost to St. Joe in the first game. They had a guy make a three-point play that I don't think hardly scored all year and was a 50 percent free-throw shooter. He made the shot to win the game. You felt like this team is hobbling into our game. We didn't take it for granted.

And then they came out against us, and they played lights out, and then went on to win the National Championship. That one was probably the most surprising.

Q. I just wanted to ask you, your evaluations when Collin and John Petty are working in conjunction, you know, one outside, one inside driving. How difficult does that make Alabama?
COACH WRIGHT: When you have a player as dynamic as Collin Sexton, and then you are a shooter on the same side of the floor with him like Petty, you could argue Petty could be one of the best shooters we faced all year and Collin could be the most dynamic guard we've played all year. So you put them on one side of the floor, it was really tough to deal with, because you just got to pick your poison. You're going to get beat on one or the other, you know?

And obviously Avery is a very smart coach. He puts you in that situation a lot.

Q. Quick turnaround. I mean, you played a night game and now you're going to play an afternoon game. Just your thoughts on that?
COACH WRIGHT: It changed -- I think Bob Ford asked earlier about our -- we got back and we set up our schedule to come in here and practice today. And then late last night, we found out 12:15 game, and we were going to get taped and have a live practice. And then at 12:15, I -- not 12:15. Whatever it was, late last night, I texted my assistant and said no tape. We're going to do walk-through and shoot.

So it changes what you're going to do today. Otherwise, nothing bad because you want to play. The kids want to play. And part of the toughest thing in the NCAA Tournament is the time between games because it's late in the year. You don't need a lot of practice time, you just want to get to the next game.

Hoops is in the house. It's official.

Q. Jay, you have an unusual team in the fact you can put five guys on the floor who can make threes. Can you talk a little bit about when you fell in love with the three, the pluses and minuses to using it, and what kind of three-pointer do you think you would have been?
COACH WRIGHT: It's funny when you ask the question, because when you said when did you fall in love with the three, the first time I shot one -- I really did -- because when I played we didn't have one, and I used to shoot them from out there.

So the first time they put that line down, I didn't care about my team, I wanted to go out and shoot some. But I think, I know you know this, but in -- in '05, when Curtis Sumpter tore his ACL in the NCAA Tournament against Florida, and we had to play Carolina in the next game, we had a choice between starting a 6'10' five-man that was inexperienced that would have us start two bigs or Kyle Lowry who we knew was going to be a great player.

So we said okay, what are we going to do with the big guy, maybe post him up, maybe get twos. I think Carolina's team that year had five draft choices and one of them was their sixth man. We said we're not going inside against these guys. What's the next best thing to do? Put a guard out there and shoot threes. We played great, and that was a lot of fun.

And I got to admit, in the middle of that game, I was like, this is really cool. Like we can get -- we can get these kind of guys. We might not be able to get these 6'11" guys that Carolina got, but we can get these guys.

Q. Is that the game with Syracuse?
COACH WRIGHT: Yeah. Yeah.

Q. Jay, this is the first tournament since Coach Massimino died. Do you miss his presence this time of year, are you still in touch with his wife and the '85 guys? They were usually behind the bench and stuff like that. What's it like to go through that without him this year?
COACH WRIGHT: Yeah. We have RCM on our jerseys, and I think about him every day. His grandson is on our staff, so his family is still very connected to this program. I don't know if it's because of his grandson. I know they have a great love for Villanova. His kids are all Villanova alums and RC played on the team.

So it's -- nothing is changed in terms of the relationship with his family. I talked with Mrs. Massimino. I just texted with his daughter who lives with Mrs. Massimino. Nothing has changed except he's not here. That part's big. Especially this time of year, he was always competing in the NAIA Championships and it was always, how far was he going to go? When were they going to either win it or lose it and get with us.

And I really do miss him and it just -- there does seem like there's something missing, just not having him with this team, his presence, his -- the Villanova-Florida mafia, all his boys that come with him. All of the Villanova guys, there does seem like there's something missing.

Q. Jay, I want to ask you, your evaluation of jobs we've done this season, going through that late-season slide, they did lose five in a row really to the end of the season. What they did to make this tournament and now obviously winning the game?
COACH WRIGHT: What year is this for Avery?

Q. Third.
COACH WRIGHT: I just think he's done a great job with the program. I've been very -- for an NBA coach, out on the recruiting trails, he's grinding. I see him everywhere. I usually joke with him about it. He grinds. He really works. But I think when you see a team like this -- someone asked earlier about momentum. There is a momentum at this time of year that -- and I feel like we're similar in that we have a lot of young guys on our team.

And it's hard to get those young guys to understand how hard you have to play, how detailed you have to be to be successful at this level. And I think he showed incredible patience and a high level of teaching skill to get all of those young guys he has to play like they're playing right now. That's hard. That's an amazing coaching job because he's got a lot of freshmen out there playing at a very, very high level now.

I think some of their losses came from those guys just being inexperienced and him trying to teach lessons. I think those losses helped them teach lessons, and he's done an amazing job. This now is not a team with freshmen. This is a team that he's grown to be. They're playing like an experienced team. They beat a hell of a team last night. They're playing like an experienced team and that's coaching.

Q. Jay, I asked the same question of Coach K. I want to get your perspective on it. When the teams are -- they list them on the rosters and even when they introduce them, hardly anybody is identified as a center anymore?
COACH WRIGHT: Yeah.

Q. Is that a position that's gone forever?
COACH WRIGHT: You know what? I don't think -- we don't have any center on our roster, I don't think. There's not a lot -- you know, I think we consider centers low post big men who stay in the low post, right? That's what you would call a center. Maybe come to the high post.

But it's hard to play that way anymore. That guy's got to get out. They're going to get him in the pick-and-roll. He's going to have to get out and play on the perimeter. If he plays on the low post, you know what? Alabama got a couple good centers, maybe three. So, there aren't a lot, but Alabama's got them.

You know, they go inside to those guys, and that's why I said they're different than any team we've played this year. There's very few teams that really go inside like that and play out of the post and they do. But not a lot.

Q. Talking to some of your players, they said you might appreciate Alabama football and follow Nick Saban quite a bit and you gave him a speech about the halftime adjustments they made in the halftime game this year against Georgia. Could you explain your thinking there?
COACH WRIGHT: I love college football, so therefore -- Big East we don't have it. Therefore, I love watching the SEC and our guys watch those games. So during football season, I'll always say who watched the Alabama/Auburn game. Most of them do, so I use examples. Alabama being the program they are, National Championship game, we talked about the unselfishness of the starting quarterback, I'm blanking his name right now, the kid from Texas.

Q. Jalen Hurts.
COACH WRIGHT: Yeah. That when they made the change at halftime, you can tell if a guy is faking it or if he really gets the fact that he's part of something bigger than himself. And when a guy that talented and has had that much success, he's been a championship quarterback, can genuinely root for his back-up to win the game, then that's a real program, you know, that has great players. Not just -- sometimes the walk-ons can be proud of being something bigger than themselves, but when the best players do that, that's a sign of a true selfless program, and that was the analogy I used for that game.

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