The Villanova Wildcats went through the normal NCAA Tournament routine on Wednesday when the squad held an open practice at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. This was followed up with the senior trio of Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Darryl Reynolds meeting the media and ending with a session with head coach Jay Wright.
Here’s the transcript provided by ASAP Sports.
Q. Josh, a year ago this time, you were sitting up there and nobody thought you were getting out of this weekend. Now everybody thinks you're going to be repeat champions. So, which is tougher?
JOSH HART: I think the -- that's a tough one. There was a big monkey on our back with the first weekend thing. It was kind of weird this year not having to answer that question that I answered the last three years. But, you know, it is what it is. Both of them are challenging. We just know we've got to be focused and ready to play come tomorrow.
Q. I guess maybe then you don't know the answer to this, but if you are lucky enough to continue to go forward, do you think the second part of this will become more difficult, the repeat thing?
JOSH HART: I think the hype will be a little bit more. You know, if we're lucky enough to advance far into the tournament, so the hype will be a little bit more. So that will be something -- surrounding us will be a distraction, and we just got to focus on each other and really fall into that distraction. We just got to focus on playing basketball for 40 minutes. If we do that, we'll take the outcome.
Q. For Kris and Josh. Last year, did you enjoy the moment coming in and this year now being seniors, and coming off what you came off last year. Are you enjoying and embracing the moment more than you did last year?
JOSH HART: I think it was harder last year to embrace it, just with, you know, like I said, just -- not the pressure, but just everything that came around with the first-round exit or the first weekend exit, the last couple of years, so that was kind of hard to embrace. Because we knew, no matter how we played, that first game, we knew we were going to have to -- if we won that one, we knew we were going to have to answer that question, and we knew that was going to be the big story and everything, the next couple of days.
So and now, it's hard to do it now because we have questions about repeating. So, you know, you can't really embrace it too much. Obviously, it's a blessing being able to be here, this isn't a privilege. But that's why we got to just rely on each other and focus on each other, and don't focus on anything else. We have to embrace the time we have together at the end. That's really the only thing we can really embrace.
KRIS JENKINS: Just like Josh said, just take it one day at a time, one game at a time. We really enjoy being around each other, and we're looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. Josh and Kris, you got -- the last time you guys were in this building was your freshman year against UConn with a shot to go to the Garden. How much is that game and what happened that year, is it still a little bit of a motivation when you get to this time of the year?
JOSH HART: Yeah, we -- I remember that one vividly. Shabazz, that UConn team, they were tough and talented, but we try not to think about that too much now. Obviously, you know, we knew we were playing Buffalo. That was the first thing. When we heard Buffalo, we were like, we went there freshman year. We had a tough game against UConn there.
But now, we don't really think about it. I think the only time we thought about it was the first time we heard we were probably going to be going to Buffalo. And it was like, oh, Buffalo.
Q. Kris or Josh or both, how much do you think that the perception of your team and your coach has changed? I mean, you win a National Championship, and it's no longer this team can't win, same with your coach. Can you take me through that a little bit, that now this guy, he was a good coach before but somehow one win makes him better.
JOSH HART: I got to answer every one? There's one -- the blessing about Coach and this program is nothing ever really changes. I think that's the biggest thing. No matter if you're coming off a National Championship year or we were coming off for that 13-19 year. Nothing in this program ever changes. The core values are still the same. The commitment to our core values is still the same, so I think the only thing that might have changed is, you know, his drilling in those core values a little bit more.
Last year was amazing just in terms of everyone buying in, and we saw what can happen if we buy into Villanova basketball. That's something that Coach told us after it happened, you guys thought I was crazy about our core values now, but that's the one thing about us. Nothing ever changes. We didn't -- never talked about repeating this whole year. It was just about committing ourselves to Villanova basketball, buying in and being the best team we can be at the end of the year.
Q. Kris, is there any downside at all in making one of the most iconic shots in the history of college basketball?
KRIS JENKINS: Is there any downside? Yeah. After I made the shot, there was a lot of downside, you know, just focus on what else we have to do.
Q. Is there any one amusing thing that's happened to you, though, just because of the shot, people coming up to you or anything like that?
KRIS JENKINS: Nah.
JOSH HART: They come up to him everywhere.
KRIS JENKINS: That's it.
Q. Josh, how do you avoid complacency, or being satisfied when you've won it all?
JOSH HART: It starts with our coach, and it starts with us three and then trickles on down. Coach is continuing to get on us, especially us three seniors, and we got, at max, I think six games left, you know, possibly in our career. And Coach isn't like, okay, let them go. We've had some successful years. Let them just kind of do what we do. He's getting on us and he's continuing to coach us, even at the end of our career. So we're doing that, we're being coachable, and we're listening to everything he says. And it goes from us and it trickles on down.
When those younger guys see the seniors in their last go-around, their last couple weeks left of their college career, still allowing themselves to be coached, that forces them to do it. They're great guys and they're going to follow our lead, but we know it starts with us three.
Q. I know you guys don't talk about repeat, but, I mean, you have to think about it at some level. Do you allow yourself to even process -- you get that in your head? Because you know what you're going for.
DARRYL REYNOLDS: Obviously, we would like to repeat. I think every team in this tournament wants to win the tournament. There isn't a team that wouldn't want to win. Just like before, like we dealt with it in years past, you can't look too far behind or too far forward, because you end up tripping on what you're doing right now.
Coach is trying to drive that home, just focusing on the present, focusing on the next game. We can think about repeating and completely overlook the next game, and you lose, and you don't even have a chance to make it to that point to be able to repeat. So it's just something we've been doing the last couple years just making sure we're focused on the next game, focused on what we can control at the moment.
Q. Kris, how many times have you relived that shot in your mind and thought about it, and for you personally, was it tough to maybe find motivation again this season, given that -- I mean, that's like the ultimate dream for any player and you've already lived it.
KRIS JENKINS: I don't even think about it or talk about it when I'm asked about it. It wasn't hard for me, because I still have a lot that I want to accomplish. I'm a part of this great team with these great guys and the guys in the locker room. So when you have guys around you like that, it's easy to refocus.
Q. How much, for any of you guys, how much do you know about Mount St. Mary's and the history of the 1-16 match-up?
DARRYL REYNOLDS: Our freshman year, I think we played Mount St. Mary's at the beginning of the year, so we got to see a little bit of their program at that point.
We watched the game yesterday. They are a talented team. I think every team at this point is a talented, tough team, especially the team that won their conference tournaments, stuff like that.
They're a good team. They're a good team like every team in this tournament. They play fast, they seem to play hard. They're disciplined in their coaching. Obviously we know about the 1-16 match-up, the hype that's built around that. We understood that coming into this. It's part of this tournament. It's just one of those questions you're going to have to answer with this tournament. It's nothing to be upset about, anything like that. You understand what it is and you move forward. Sorry if I wasn't talking loud enough, I just realized I could have leaned a little bit forward. I see him in the back, I'm sitting here whispering, I'm sorry about that.
THE MODERATOR: You're coachable. Good work. Other questions for our Villanova student-athletes?
Q. For Josh, you mentioned having a memory of coming to Buffalo. You guys have been here now since Monday. Do you guys sort of feel like -- and you've gone through a Buffalo snowstorm. Do you feel like an honorary Buffalonian at this point?
JOSH HART: A little bit. I thought I'd get to see the sun. I hope that's not what it's like up here all 365 days. I mean, I like the warm weather, so I don't want to say go back home, because I think it's snowing in Philly, too. We just got to tough it through the last couple weeks and put up with the weather. So I guess you could say we feel like, Buffalonians, I think is what you said.
Q. You feel like Buffalonians, what have you been doing in your free time. Obviously you have practice coming up and you've been watching the game last night. Anything fun? Have you guys had any time to enjoy it?
JOSH HART: Not really. We just relaxed. We all watched a movie. Was that Monday night? Monday night, I think we got here. We watched a movie together. That was really about it. I wish I could tell you we had, like, this epic snowball fight and it was amazing. But no, not really. We've just been in our rooms, just relaxing, taking our mind off the tournament, and just enjoying each other's company.
Q. All right. Not seeing any more questions, gentlemen, thanks for your time. Good luck tomorrow.
JOSH HART: Thank you.
KRIS JENKINS: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Joined by Villanova head coach Jay Wright. Coach, welcome back to Buffalo.
JAY WRIGHT: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: This is a regular stop for you. I think once at Hofstra and another time here.
JAY WRIGHT: 2010. It is great to be back in Buffalo. I love western New York, and I think our team is excited about this upcoming game. It's pretty cool to watch a game together last night and watch our opponent in Mount St. Mary's, who is a tough team. Great guards. And very tough kids on their team, so should be a good game.
THE MODERATOR: With that we'll open it up to questions.
Q. Jay, Josh came in before and said that it's been tough to embrace and enjoy an NCAA Tournament when you guys never got by the first weekend, and now talking about repeat or whatever. Again, it's hard to do that. What would you tell your players about enjoying the moment, especially your senior class who, this is their last go-around?
JAY WRIGHT: He said it's hard to enjoy it because of that?
Q. Enjoy it and embrace it?
JAY WRIGHT: Yeah. I think what he means is in terms of enjoying all the lead-up and all of the hype, all that stuff, the open practices, and this media. Because I think they want to enjoy the end results, that's what they want to enjoy, and I think they understand that. I think they understand there's a commitment that you have to have during this time as you're preparing and playing games. And you can get to enjoy it on the weekend, if you get past the second game, and then you start it all over again.
Q. Jay, is this a little bit weird for you at all, when you come back here knowing -- there's the Rochester angle. There's the Bucknell side. You have been here before. You know this area, recruited here. I grew up with Rick Wnuk, by the way, who you recruited. What's it like for you when you come back here?
JAY WRIGHT: A lot of -- we just had the meeting, the coaches' meeting and Mike Brey is in there and Buzz Williams and Huggins. We've all -- it seems like Hugs and Mike Brey and us have been in the shape spot, you know, for the last three years. I don't know how that works. But coming back to western New York is always cool. I have great memories about starting at University of Rochester and recruiting a lot in the Buffalo area. Not getting Wnuk, not getting the Torgalskis. The only guys I didn't get from this area. Trying to recruit Christian Laettner as a freshman not knowing he was going to be that good.
But I do like coming up here and Bucknell being here is really cool, too. We're really proud of Nathan and those guys, so, yeah, a lot of connections here, and we're enjoying it.
Also the Anchor Bar and Duff's, we like that, too.
Q. Last year, one of the lines you used in Brooklyn a lot was that you knew -- your team knew that you would be judged by whatever happened in the NCAA Tournament, fairly or not. Do you still feel that way with this group because you've kind of climbed that mountaintop or does it change at all?
JAY WRIGHT: That's something that we discussed as a team. I just think in general, you're defined by what you did in the NCAA Tournament as a college player. If you're a team that's getting there every year, the team and you as a player get defined that way, nationally, with fans, and that's okay. But we don't define our guys that way within our program, and they don't -- I don't think they define themselves that way, and we want to make sure of that.
But it is the reality, you know? There could be a guy that, you know, doesn't have a great career, but if he does something in the NCAA Tournament, everybody remembers him forever and that's cool, too.
Q. So, this time last year, Jay, you're sitting up there, nobody thought you could get out of the first weekend. Now everybody wonders if you can repeat. Is one more difficult than the other and the pressure you faced last year is that at all applicable to the pressure you might face going forward?
JAY WRIGHT: I don't know if one is harder than the other, Dana, but they are different. They are definitely different. There's, I would say, the same level of pressure, but it's a different kind of pressure. In terms of being applicable, it definitely is. I think -- you know, pressure is pressure, so you want to embrace it and try to make -- allow it to make you better, and we had a different kind of pressure last year. It was like that second-round pressure was crazy.
And this year, it is about repeating. You're a one seed, and so you're supposed to win it if you're the one seed, right? It's all about how you handle that, and I think having that pressure last year and having pressure this year, I think makes it a little bit easier to handle.
Q. On a lighter note, Coach Huggins earlier said that he used to be the best-dressed coach, better than you. And obviously, he went a different way. I guess on the flipside, I was going to ask you if you'd ever consider going without a tie. We have another tieless coach here in Mike Brey. I was wondering how important the tie is to the coaching and to the image?
JAY WRIGHT: You know, the reason that I dress that way, it's just been the tradition, you know, in coaching, you wear a suit and tie. But Hugs is -- I would like to do an article on the lines Hugs give me before the game when you shake hands about your attire, his attire, your look, his look. It's great. It could fill an article. He's got great lines. And Mike -- I remember Mike used to go with the crew neck, he was the trend-setter on that. I think he and I had a discussion one summer, I said, you've got to go with the open collar. That's the next look. I don't know if he did it because of that, but I know we had a discussion about that, it's important.
I like -- I don't know. I like Hugs' look. When you wear a nice suit and you're in the huddle and they're sweating on your suit. The guys are dripping on top of you. I'm thinking why am I wearing this nice suit? But it's tradition. We'll see, we'll see.
Q. Jay, did you have to worry about this group being complacent or satisfied, kind of the idea of, we won it all last year, maybe not having necessarily the drive that they needed?
JAY WRIGHT: Definitely. I was really concerned about that coming into the season. Obviously, I hadn't been a part of a National Championship team before, so I really didn't know how to handle it. They hadn't. But I did talk to a lot of coaches and everybody said to me, there's a definite hangover you have to deal with. Don't deny it. Don't hide from it. It's going to be there, and it really is. And we talked about it all year.
I'm very proud of our three seniors, Josh, and Darryl, and Kris and how, at 20 years old, they are able to handle the maturity of getting past it, taking on the next challenge, continuing to be humble and get better. Really proud of them. I don't think I could have done that at 22. Our staff jokes about it all of the time. If we could have done what Kris Jenkins did last year, we would have been uncontrollable. And he was, all of them, very humble and coachable. I'm really proud of them for that.
Q. When do you think you shook that hangover if there was one?
JAY WRIGHT: We discussed it. We came back -- we all went to the ESPYS in July, which is kind of the end of the victory tour. It's the last event you go to after the White House, and state capitol. We discussed it as a team. Because we're going on a trip to Spain. Hey, this trip to Spain starts the next year. That's over. We went to Spain. It was great. Because no one knew who we were, they didn't know we were National Champions. It gave us a fresh start.
But when we got to the baggage claim in Philadelphia and everyone saw we were there, and they started coming up and taking pictures, it hit all of us, oh, we're back in it. We're going to have to deal with this. We did get a fresh start that trip to Spain. It was really helpful to us.
Q. Jay, when you were in Rochester, some 30 years ago, grinding away and hitting the recruiting trail --
JAY WRIGHT: 30 years.
Q. Is this where you pictured yourself --
JAY WRIGHT: Ten years ago I thought it was. No, not at all. I would have been happy if I could have been the guy to replace Mike Neer at Rochester at that time. I was just so happy to be coaching. It seems crazy right now that you get to coach at Villanova and you would have been happy. But you didn't know any of this was possible. I was having so much fun and enjoying being a coach. I loved the University of Rochester, Mike Neer was a great coach. I would have. At that time, Mike Neer was God to me back then. I was like if I can ever get to do that someday. That was my thought process.
Q. Kind of a combination of the previous three questions both with your dress -- I talked to your tailor today by the way, Gabriel?
JAY WRIGHT: We've got to get him under control.
Q. He's a funny guy. Did you know that he coached his church league team to second place 40 years ago?
JAY WRIGHT: Oh, yeah.
Q. I'm sure you did. And the attention paid. Now you have people, I'm calling your tailor. People are talk about your suits. How has your life changed, when you look at the tournament, you were criticized before for not winning enough in the tournament and now all of a sudden you win one game, one shot, and so much has changed, if you can take me through that?
JAY WRIGHT: You know, it hasn't really changed that much, just with the media and -- you know, in basketball venues. That's about it. And in my household, please. Trust me. I'm number 5 on that list there. I still take out the trash and do everything I'm told to do. But it really hasn't -- except in situations like this, when you talk with the media. But I think I'm the same guy. I think in the program, we all try to stay the same. I talked about our players, you know? We try to enjoy the journey that we're on.
This is why we do what we do, to be a coach and to be with your players and to be on a college campus and to be at practice, that's what we love and still the biggest part of my life.
Q. The perception has changed I guess?
JAY WRIGHT: Yeah.
Q. Is that kind of a weird --
JAY WRIGHT: I'm not as articulate as you guys. That's what I meant to say.
Q. You don't know me real well. Is that a weird transformation to see how others view you, gets altered, even though you wake up the same way?
JAY WRIGHT: As I said, we were criticized a lot for losing in the second round. I wasn't feeling bad about what we were doing. I actually felt really good about what we were doing. I was disappointed when we lost that game, but where our program was, our guys were graduating we were winning Big East championships, our guys were giving their best effort. I felt really good about what we were doing.
When people were criticizing us if I was feeling good, but then when people are praising us, I really shouldn't feel better. You just don't take it on one side. That's really I why think -- I hope we haven't changed.
Q. You spoke earlier about pressure, is there a unique type of pressure that comes with a one seed and 1 versus 16 match-up?
JAY WRIGHT: Yeah. I don't know if it's top seed but there's a 1-16 pressure. We've felt it before. I told our team about, we were one seed and actually Philly guys might -- I might be wrong on this. I count on our media for details, but when we played Monmouth were we a 1?
We played Monmouth in the Wells Fargo Center where we play our home games, they we were a 16 seed and they made a run on us and the whole building turned on us, and it was like a Monmouth home game in our arena. I was shocked. I had never experienced that. We were number one seed and everyone was going for the underdog. That's a crazy kind of pressure especially when you're on your home court. You know those teams, they can get it going and they put game pressure on you when you're a one seed. You got to be ready for it and got to overcome that, too.
Q. Just to follow up, on Kris, he was up here earlier and mentioned he doesn't think about the shot unless he's asked about it. I find that to be unbelievable. I don't think I'd ever stop thinking about it. Is that just his personality that he's able to put it aside?
JAY WRIGHT: Well, I think it's more his intelligence. He's a confident, cocky, in a good way, kid. But we talked about it right after the season. And he's real bright. He's really bright. When we talked about you still got a year left, you want to get better, you got this for the rest of your life. He right away internalizes that. I'm amazed -- I've watched for this. When the guys do shooting drills at the end of practice or they're doing competitions, you would think one time it would slip, I hit the big shot. I've never ever, ever seen him mention it ever, and it's really impressive.
Q. Jay, in an era now when players are kind of coming and going because of one-and-done and things, do you think a program such as yours is more equipped to repeat than others that perhaps would look more likely repeat champions?
JAY WRIGHT: That's a good -- I hope, I hope so. I hope our experience is really valuable in this, you know? And usually what gives you a chance to repeat is a lot of returning players, a lot of returning good players. When Florida repeated that entire team came back to repeat. Our team didn't come back to repeat and we lost two great seniors. But we do have -- I think the key is the number of quality players returning, you know? And, as you say, because of one-and-done, if you're going to lose a lot of those guys you're not going to have the quality players returning. So I hope it is an advantage for us.
Q. We keep going back to the wardrobe. Windsor, double Windsor and is a pocket square necessary?
JAY WRIGHT: Straight Windsor. No. It's not always necessary. It depends on the outfit.
THE MODERATOR: TV guys asking that.
JAY WRIGHT: You all good?
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for Coach? Thank you, guys. I want to recognize Mike Sheridan, athletic director, who can help you with any of your needs, thank you very much.
JAY WRIGHT: Thank you.