With Tubby Smith out, one Gopher wants Jay Wright in Minnesota

Ronald Martinez

Jay Wright's name has already popped up in some media speculation about the UCLA opening, but a prominent Minnesotan is asking for the Villanova coach to replace Tubby Smith.

USC, UCLA and now Minnesota are prominent power-conference athletics programs that are looking for new head men's basketball coaches this spring. Ben Howland was given the axe in Westwood over the weekend and now it is being reported that the Gophers have parted ways with Tubby Smith. While speculation has thrust Jay Wright's name into the discussion in Westwood, the Villanova head coach is being mentioned for Minnesota by a different source:

Our understanding is that Wright is more of a golfer, than a tennis player, but perhaps a little work on his backhand would seal a deal.

There has been some speculation in the Twin-Cities that Minnesota will show interest in Wright. He reportedly has a good relationship with the Gophers' AD, Norwood Teague, and associate AD Mike Ellis, who both moved to Minnesota from VCU. Ellis was also the founder of an organization called Villa 7, which helped elite assistant coaches to network with athletic directors -- "one of the premiere professional development opportunities," for coaches, according to VCU head coach Shaka Smart.

Of course, a commitment to "Villa 7," may also mean that the Gophers will look to promote an elite assistant coach rather than reach for the stars with an established name.

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