BOZICH | Tuesday Post-NCAA Tournament Edition of Monday Muse
Jay Wright completes his GQ wardrobe. What the recruiting gurus and NBA Draft folks said about Villanova players. Head-scratching NCAA Tournament moments.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The basketball never sleeps. It just rolls into a trophy case in Philadelphia. And creates a Tuesday edition of the Monday Muse.
Ten final takeaways from the 2016 NCAA Tournament:
1. Jay Wright’s GQ Coaching Moment
Google “Jay Wright and NCAA Tournament flops.”
Hope you have plenty of reading time to slog through everything that has been written about the Villanova coach the last six years, starting with this story from the Associated Press at the start of Nova’s practice this season.
“I get it (about the criticism),” Wright said last November.
How could he not?
Lost to North Carolina State (eight-seed) as a one-seed last season. Lost to UConn (seven-seed) as a two-seed in 2014. Lost in the first round of the tournament as a nine seed in 2013.
Lost to South Florida in the Big East Tournament and missed the NCAA Tournament in 2012. Lost to George Mason in first round of NCAA Tournament in 2011. Lost to St. Mary’s (10 seed) as a two-seed in 2010.
That’s Steve Lappas Territory.
Credit to Wright. Not for winning the title Monday night in Houston. That happens.
Credit to Wright for owning the flops. He blamed himself, not the players. He said he needed to change his coaching approach. I guess that he did.
The guy has always dressed like a champion. Now he has the ring to complete his wardrobe.
2. Recruiting Gurus: Keeping Them Honest
This is the star breakdown of Villanova’s recruiting classes from 2012-15, according to Rivals:
5-Stars: Jalen Brunson
4-Stars: Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Ryan Archidianco, Daniel Ochefu.
3-Stars: Tim Delaney, Dante Divincenzo, Darryl Bridges.
Better than I expected. But nothing to inspire hyperventilation in most crazed fan bases.
3. Catching a Draft
If you subscribe to the operating philosophy that NBA Draft Night, not the national championship game, is the biggest night of the season for a college basketball program, then a monstrous letdown is coming in Philadelphia in June.
The latest projections for the 2016 NBA Draft at DraftExpress.com have precisely zero Villanova players listed in the first or second round.
Not one Top 60 prospect.
4. Nova Did It the Hard Way
Sometimes a bracket opens with upsets and a team encounters a spot or two to exhale on its path to the NCAA title.
Not so for Villanova. With the exception of one game, the Wildcats’ played the highest seed possible on their road to snipping at the nets.
If you’re scoring at home, it was 15-7-3-1-2-1.
To me, that makes the Wildcats a thoroughly deserving champion.
They started with a 15-seed (UNC-Asheville). Followed that with a seven (Iowa, which spent a healthy chunk of the winter ranked in the top 10).
They came to Louisville and toppled a three (Miami) as well as the overall top seed in the tournament (Kansas).
In Houston, Villanova finally caught a break. They beat a two-seed (Oklahoma) instead of the Oregon team that was favored to win the West Regional. No need to apologize. They won the tournament by taking out the overall second seed in North Carolina.
Only Arizona in 1997 has beaten three Number One seeds.
Job well done.
5. A Lon Kruger Team Lost By How Much?
If you asked me to pick a coach whose team lost a game (any game, not a Final Four game) by 44 points, I would not pick a Lon Kruger team.
Kruger’s teams practice all the fundamentals, especially on defense. They compete like crazy.
Villanova 95, Oklahoma 51.
Before Saturday, the Sooners’ worst loss this season was 13 points. Their worst loss last season was 21. Kruger’s worst loss at Oklahoma was 38 to Missouri in 2012, the first season of his rebuild job at OU. His worst loss in seven seasons at UNLV was 27.
6. Tony Bennett’s Team Did What?
If you asked me to pick a coach whose team blew a 16-point lead in a regional final, I would not pick a group coached by Tony Bennett of Virginia.
But it happened. Against a Syracuse team seeded 10th in its region that really didn’t have NCAA Tournament credentials.
7. Tom Izzo’s Team Did What?
If you asked me to pick a coach who watched a 15-seed control his two-seed for 40 minutes, I would not pick a team coached by Tom Izzo of Michigan State.
Especially in a season when Izzo would be voted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
But it happened when Middle Tennessee State busted brackets everywhere (including mine) by eliminating the Spartans.
8. Take a Bow Kevin Willard.
This won’t get you a cup of coffee outside of South Orange, NJ, but the last team to beat Villanova this season was coached by former Louisville assistant coach Kevin Willard. Sounds like a good recruiting pitch to use this summer.
Seton Hall toppled Nova, 69-67, in the Big East championship game, stirring one final round of discussion about how badly Villanova had performed in the post-season since 2009.
In case you had missed any of that talk.
9. Conference Bragging Rights
How did the six power conferences perform in the NCAA Tournament?
It’s little consolation in North Carolina, but the ACC actually has something to talk about, even though nobody in the Big East will listen.
Here’s the breakdown:
ACC: 19-7 (.731)
Big East: 9-4 (.692)
Big 12: 9-7 (.563)
Big Ten: 8-7 9 (.533)
SEC: 3-3 (.500)
Pac 12: 4-7 (.364)
10. Poll Results
Which team will win the 2016 NCAA Final Four?
(Like me, you whiffed, folks.)
North Carolina 53.7 percent
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