Earlier today I read NBC reporter Rob Dauster's piece on Villanova's legacy, and how we should view it. Generally, he doesn't seem impressed. Villanova doesn't have one-and-done talent, so they must be more lucky than good. It was a down year for elite teams in college basketball, so this championship isn't that impressive. The Big East is mediocre, apparently, and so who cares that they dominate it year after year?
And I bet you thought we were done with the dumb narratives?
It'd be nice if we could move past the razzle dazzle of players with insane measurables and/or those who can provide highlight reel moments and stop defining that as "talented." Maybe we can stop calling Josh Hart underrated and just start calling him a really f*cking good basketball player. I suspect those outside of Villanova-circles won't, because that's just how narratives work. Nobody wants to admit they were wrong. Doug Gottlieb has made a career out of it.
And for those still questioning Villanova's credentials, here's the simple truth. Villanova was the best team in college basketball this year. We should have expected them to compete for a National Championship. They spent a ton of time as the #1 team in KenPom. They have a roster loaded with 4 and 5 star recruits (so yeah, they're plenty "talented"), and they just ran roughshod through the NCAA Tournament and then won the greatest NCAA Championship game of all-time. That's the legacy. That's it, and that's good enough. There's no reason to question it otherwise.
Moving forward however, is a more interesting debate. I will cop to writing that the 2009 Final Four run was the breakthrough for Jay Wright and that we should expect dominance. That was not correct - or at least a few years too soon on the prediction.
And at the risk of being wrong again - which I'll happily admit if I am again - here's what is different this time. Villanova has been among the elite teams for a few years even if the March success wasn't there. Duke loses early sometimes too. So does Kansas. Sometimes Kentucky and all their one-and-done talent doesn't even make the NCAA Tournament. And now Villanova has the trump card - they've won it all too.
And most importantly Wright already learned what works for this program and what doesn't. He's hit rock bottom already, and pulled himself out from it. He's turned this program in to a well-oiled machine that might not fit your narrative, but is damn good nonetheless. He's got a recipe for success, and he's going to keep on cooking it.
Developing 4 and 5-star players over 3-4 years, and getting their buy-in works just fine. Having strong upperclassmen and young, but maybe raw talent means that you are going to be consistently very, very good. What part of Villanova's program, the one that has dominated one of the better conferences in the country and now has finally put it all together for one of the most dominating postseason runs of all-time, would make you doubt future success?
And yet some people still will. They'll doubt the team that just won the National Championship. They'll doubt the team that has won more basketball games than any other program in the country during the last three seasons. They'll doubt the program led by a future Hall of Fame coach.
Don't mind them. Villanova works fine feeding off the doubt.