"People are questioning us. If they're saying that I can't coach or we can't recruit, if we don't get it going in the next couple of years, then they're right," explained Villanova's Jay Wright to the Philadelphia Daily News.
"Maybe we're not getting it done right now. All of us could have done better. I've said that. We evaluate constantly, even when you're 20-1. The biggest thing is sticking to our core values. Playing hard, every day. Playing together, unselfishly. Playing smart. Having pride in playing for Villanova, more than playing for yourself. Last year, we didn't do that."
Wright didn't name any names, but it was clear from his words that the Wildcats weren't playing team basketball during their backsliding the past few years. All the success for 7 years of NCAA Tournament appearances and a 2009 trip to the Final Four can go to a program's head. It is hard not to have that effect when players are given the first-class treatment no matter where they go; private jets, rooms at the Waldorf Astoria, and just about as much attention and admiration as any college-aged kid can handle.
The recruiting class that should be entering their senior season this year (though now whittled down to just Mouphtaou Yarou), as Mike Kern points out, was ranked among the nation's best, while the only "big time" recruit among the 2009 Final Four starting line-up was Scottie Reynolds. There is more to the formula for success than just coaching or recruiting.
"We were expecting to be good last year. Maybe not with the same kind of confidence. But you're kind of expecting it and hoping it at the same time. Now it's all about how you respond to it. I learned a lot. I thought we could play big. Because when we were losing to all those national-championship teams, we just weren't big enough. So that was our plan. But it didn't work. We got away from what we did well [which was play through the perimeter]."
See also: If you haven't already, please check out Mike Kern's excellent piece, "Does Villanova's Wright have to start over?" over at Philly.com.