Expectations were high for Jay Wright when he took over as head coach of the Villanova Wildcats in 2001. It is always more difficult for coaches to take over for a program like the Villanova basketball program- a program that has been long defined by success. Wright knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he took the job and did not seem to mind the high expectations he and his team would face.
In Wright’s 12 seasons as head coach at Villanova, he has been able to continue the successful winning tradition the program has had over the years. The numbers speak for themselves, Wright has a career record of 285-149 with the Wildcats which equals .657 winning percentage. Coach Wright has been a familiar face in the NCAA tournament throughout his time at Villanova. He has made the NCAA tournament 10 out of 12 years, including three trips to the sweet 16, one elite eight appearance, and the memorable final four appearance in 2009. During Wright’s tenure at Villanova, the Wildcats have reestablished their place among the national elite basketball programs.
Coach Wright has often been criticized for not being able to land the top basketball recruits in the country like many other college programs, such as Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. Wright has said in the past that he focuses most of his recruiting on players he knows will fit his system, instead of the highly coveted prospects many coaches recruit. He believes it is easier for him and his coaching staff to develop players that will fit his system.
If you know anything about Villanova basketball it is rare to see a player leave after his freshman or sophomore seasons like many other college players do. Villanova players have been known to stay their entire four years of their eligibility. Wright still finds a way to win even though he does not land top recruits every year.
In his coaching career so far at Villanova ,Wright has accomplished a great deal. He has won multiple conference championships, his team has been ranked in the top 25 just about every year, and has made it to the NCAA tournament 10 of his seasons as head coach. There is one thing left for him to accomplish and that is to win a national championship.
The closest Villanova has come to winning a national championship was in 2009, when they made the final four. Wright and the ‘Cats were defeated by the national champion North Carolina.
It will only be a matter of time before he gets Villanova back to another final four and over the hump to win a national championship. Although there is more parity in college basketball than in years past it is still very difficult to win a national championship. This is because powerhouse college basketball programs such as Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas, and Duke continue to land the nation’s top basketball players year after year.
Coach Wright has been known by some to be a “players coach” which simply means that players enjoy playing for him, especially guards. High school basketball players that play either guard position should know that if they attend Villanova, coach Wright will give them freedom to play their game and become a better overall player which some coaches cannot say. In the coming years if Wright is able to land a top notch recruit it would drastically increase his teams chance of playing for a national championship.
If there is something coach Wright has showed people over his at Villanova it is that he does not have to have the most talented players to win in college basketball.