USA TODAY Sports
Following today's practice section, Villanova's head coach Jay Wright faced the media. Here are some of his quotes.
As you know, in Philadelphia, we take great pride in Philadelphia basketball. When we're playing each other, we want to beat each other bad. But anything else, we work together on Coaches Versus Cancer, we're friends throughout the year, and we like to see each other do well.
We really believe if the Big 5 schools are doing well, kids in Philadelphia are going to stay home to play there, games are going to be important, Philadelphia basketball is going to be important.
They played great last night. They really looked good. They look like a team that can win some games in this tournament.
From beating Georgetown to wondering if you'd get selected:
Every situation has been a challenge for us this year because it's new to this group. I think you and I have talked about this, but Mouphtaou Yarou is a leader, James Bell is a leader and a go‑to guy. It's all new. The rest of the guys, being starters and playing is all new.
Everything has been a challenge, but they've taken every challenge as an opportunity. I can see the way they're preparing this week. They're doing the same thing.
We had a great practice this morning. We're going to go in here and shoot now. I can see their focus. I can see their confidence.
So they've really impressed our staff with their ability to take on every new challenge.
What's unique about this Villanova team?
Like I said, I was looking around last night in our team meeting, not a lot of guys have played here. I talked to Achraf Yacoubou, as if he had played in this before. He said, Coach, we didn't go last year.
I don't realize how many guys haven't.
But this group, because of the leadership, has been a really enjoyable group to go through this process with. It's Yarou, it's Bell, it's Arcidiacono, the guys you saw here. The chemistry of the group has been outstanding.
How will you handle NC's shooting?
It's definitely going to be do what we do better. That is an area we have struggled all year, is defending the three‑point line. So, of course, this is the way it works. Who do you get in the NCAA tournament? The only Carolina team that ever has relied strictly on a three‑point line. That's the way it works.
We feel like we've got a good scheme. We just feel like we have not executed it through the year.
Seton Hall game, we really struggled doing what we wanted to do. We didn't do what we wanted to do well. We have to do a better job of that.
Transition defense, defending their threes, is really important. They're really good at it. Hairston within their offense can at any time find a three. Even if they're running something for Bullock, he can find one. I think this will be as good a three‑point shooting team as we've played all year.
We've practiced against it. At the same time, if you leave a guy like McAdoo alone inside one‑on‑one, he's very effective. I think that's what makes them good.
Comparing the young team that faced Carolina in 2005 and this year's team:
Yeah, you know, a lot of interesting things. All the Villanova fans, the 'Nova Nation, as soon as we got Carolina brought up that game. I don't think there's anybody that remembers that game except Arcidiacono, who grew up watching Villanova. The rest of them, they don't even know.
The similarities that that team, I think it was our first team that went to the tournament, so everything was kind of new to them. But even though everything was new, they had a confidence about them that we really felt as coaches.
That's the similarity. This group has a confidence level about them. Even though they probably shouldn't, they do. That's what made that team in '05 really effective and advance to the Sweet 16. That's what I think this team's greatest strength is: their confidence.
What does Tony Chennault bring to the team?
I think the transfer for Tony was going to be very seamless because he was coming back home to Villanova. We knew him his whole career. Until the tragedy with his brother's death in the summer, then it became a very difficult transfer because he was there, his mom was alone now, there was no one in the house with his mom. I think it really affected him all summer and through the beginning of the year. I think it really did.
He might, within the last month or so, be coming out of the other end. I know he's always concerned about his mom. He'd go home to check on his mom. He really struggled picking up what we were doing. But I don't think his head was completely there.
The last month or so he's been playing good basketball for us, made us a much better team. He's probably the guy I haven't talked about enough. He's just that kind of guy. He's a blue‑collar guy, a typical Philly guard, doesn't want attention, wants to do the dirty work and win. He really has made a major impact on this team the last month or so.
The dynamics of a team that can lose to Columbia by 17 at home and then beat Top 5 teams:
You know, every team has its own dynamics, its only personality. I've never had a team like this. I've had a young team that has struggled and been a little inconsistent, but I don't think they've had the incredible accomplishments that this team has had, and at the same time has as poor a performance as this team has.
I think early in the year we probably could have seen this coming when we had the great game against Purdue in the Garden, then the next night against Alabama. The coaching staff was sitting there saying, Who is this team? In the Purdue game, we were saying the same thing. Who is this team?
They've just had incredible accomplishments, and we've had some great disappointments. That's just the personality of this team.
But as I said earlier, their confidence never wavers. Their ability to be coached and get better never changes. That's the personality of this group.
Did the team learn from the lows?
Yeah, I definitely do. I think we've learned a lot this entire season. We talked to the guys about the fact that early in the season, we were picked 12th in the Big East. We lost to Saint Mary's‑‑ oh, that was the year before, we lost to Columbia. Saint Mary's coach, still in my mind.
After that game, everyone said, This team's bad. The greatest thing I think they learned is we define what we are and where we are. Even after the loss to Seton Hall when everyone said, They're out of the tournament now, it didn't affect these guys. They learned, We're going to define ourselves and keep getting better every day.
I think that's something these young guys are going to keep with them for a long time. Even after this last Louisville game, we've rallied around, we've been here before, we're going to come back and play great against Carolina.