"It was an emotional, wonderful evening last night," Coach Rollie Massimino stated when he first addressed the media. Current coaches along with the 1985 National Champion team hosted a 200-person private party Monday night. Rollie stopped mid-sentence to point out, "This is the most people I've had at a press conference in thirty years." It was apparent that he was still comfortable in front of the mic.
Last night was one big trip down memory lane as many players retold stories of the miraculous NCAA Tournament Championship. At the end of the party the team presented Massimino with a large picture made up entirely of quotes he had used throughout the memorable season, thanks to an email thread between former players and coaches.
"When Massimino hires you, you're in good shape because you're set" said Wright when asked what Massimino had done for him. "Working for him, I learned how to coach, but also how to run a basketball program and include your family." Wright emphasized the respect he has for Rollie noting, "we do everything the exact same way he did."
Besides running a similar program, the current Wildcats' squad sees enough of the 1985 team with former players always keeping in touch and visiting from time to time. "He's here in the summer, he's here for camp, and he's here for different events to honor the team," Jay continued. "He knows all the players. He can give them a little shot when he wants to, and he can love them up when I'm on them tough. [Our team] respects the hell out of him."
Coach Massimino notes that, while "times have changed" in basketball, "Wright has done a wonderful job here. I've always said he's the best coach we've had at Villanova." At this time Wright smiled and shook his head. "He has perpetuated and continued on with the family concept we believe in." Coach Wright does not feel pressured by the 1985 team's success: "It was so magical that I don't think anyone here sees it as 'Look we did it here, let's do that again.' On the other hand, people look at it as a defining moment of the best of Villanova. I'm lucky that way- they never put that pressure on me."
Mike Fratello stopped by and discussed his decision to take the assistant coach's position at Villanova under Massimino. "Other people in the basketball world who apparently know everything told me 'don't go there, you'll be gone soon.' When I spoke to some players, they were all there to win. It showed the trust and faith the players had, even after losing all those basketball games."
Interestingly the Northwood Seahawks and Villanova Wildcats had their team meals together this afternoon. Jay loved how "they looked at him different knowing they had to play against him."
Massimino summed up the past few days' events as "a wonderful experience for me to see my guys back to tell me what a bad guy I was in a period of time where we yelled and screamed."