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Jay Wright talks Villanova Basketball

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Jon Rothstein gave us a 30 minute sit-down with the country’s best college basketball coach.

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Happy Tuesday Nova Nation! As you all know by now, I love any time we can get our hands on a Jay Wright interview. We’re so lucky to have him as our coach, and while this interview got a little coach-speaky, he’s always happy to answer questions and talk about the team.

As much of a draw that Wright is, I get that some of you may be Rothsteined out after last weeks tweet-a-thon. Never fear, I’ve braved the waters and highlighted the major talking points below.

  • Rothstein thinks Nova fans will need to be patient with this team. They’re so young and inexperienced compared to the teams in recent years that there are going to be a number of growing pains. That said, the talent is evident and should come through by the end of the season.
  • Wright doesn’t think life changed much after the second Championship. Everyone’s still focused on the Eagles Superbowl win.
  • The staff didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy the second Championship because the focus became preparing four guys for the NBA Draft.
  • This is a really different team when it comes to experience. Only Phil Booth and Eric Paschall have played significant minutes with the team, and this is the first time Jay’s brought in such an experienced transfer like Joe Cremo.
  • Nova is going to have a target on their backs for “payback” due to recent dominance in the Big 5 and Big East. The team has to play at a different level because of the intensity that opponents are going to play against them with. What they see on film isn’t the same team they’ll see on the court. That’ll be something the new guys have to pick up fast.
  • Eric Paschall has only taken double digit shot attempts seven times with the Wildcats. He did it twenty-four times in his lone season with Fordham. That experience and his natural ability to be a “go-to-guy” will allow him to become a more complete player and leading scorer on this team.
  • Jalen Brunson has shown that at Villanova being efficient and solid isn’t the enemy of being excellent. Jahvon Quinerly and Collin Gillespie have learned from him, especially how to be both efficient and dynamic.
  • Collin Gillespie can be an “X-Factor” for the Wildcats this season. He came off the bench last year knowing he didn’t need to score, so he was able to focus on defense and facilitating others. Now he’ll have the opportunity to add his abilities as a dynamic scorer from high school. But even if he doesn’t, his leadership, defense, and basketball intelligence are going to be important for the team and Quinerly’s development.
  • Cole Swider is more prepared as a shooter coming into the program than legendary marksman Kris Jenkins was. But it’s not just shooting with those guys, they both came in as very good rebounders as well. Swider is still a little behind where Jenkins was on the boards, but he’s catching up.
  • Being able to get back into the Pavilion is very important for a team this young. Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are the only guys on the team who have played significant minutes in this building. The young guys could have gotten somewhat lost if they had to play every game at Wells Fargo, but getting to play in the close confines of the Pavilion will help with their transition to the college game.
  • The immediate impact that Butler, Creighton, and Xavier had on the Big East helped keep the league highly competitive while traditional programs like St. John’s and Georgetown struggled. Now those programs are ready to step back into the national spotlight and that could be great for the Big East and their success in the NCAA Tournament.
  • If Shamorie Ponds was playing at Villanova, or anywhere he was winning more, he’d get a lot more hype and exposure in NBA circles. That said, St. John’s is ready to come onto the scene and Ponds is Wright’s pick for preseason Big East player of the year.
  • Every non-conference game after Dec. 1st is either a Big 5 game or a major conference team. If Villanova is still trying to “find their way” by that time it could really be harmful to their post season hopes. Wright is trying to keep things simple but refined with the young guys. He knows they won’t be able to make as many adjustments on the fly as they have in previous years, but they need to be good at the things they are doing.
  • Wright will face two former assistants this year, and there are always mixed feelings when playing someone you’ve worked that closely with. Baker wanted to come back and play at Villanova, so Wright agreed although he “hates” having to play against him. Ashley Howard is going to be a great challenge in the Big 5, both because he has a good team and knows what Villanova does so well.

In other “news”, Isaiah Stewart is determining next steps, Nova could be without its star quarterback this weekend, and The Athletic is expanding their college coverage. Enjoy!

College Hoops Today with Jon Rothstein | Stitcher
Villanova's Jay Wright faces challenges this year with a young roster. How do they plan to replace four NBA players? Handling expectations coming off a National Championship. Who his x-factor will be. And what it means for the Big East when Georgetown and St. John's are at the top of their game. Plus, why college programs need a third exhibition/scrimmage moving forward.

Isaiah Stewart sees Washington, Kentucky, pondering next move | 247 Sports
Five-star center Isaiah Stewart recapped his trips to Kentucky and Washington, and ponders the next move in his recruitment.

Backup QBs Likely For Saturday vs 'Nova | 92.9 The Ticket
UMaine football coach Joe Harasymiak says it's doubtful quarterback Chris Ferguson will be ready for Saturday when Villanova comes to Alfond Stadium.

FCS Rankings: Power Poll Following Week 5 | Athlon Sports
Beware the perils of conference play. Plenty didn't in Week 5 of the FCS season and paid the price. Villanova has dropped to 19th after Saturday's loss.

Seth Davis: It’s year 2 for our college basketball site, and with it comes expanded coverage | The Athletic
The Athletic announces a major expansion into college basketball, now covering many of the major programs nationally.