‘Nova’s Jay Wright Coach of the Decade

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By John Mar­shall AP Bas­ket­ball Writer

The fi­nal sec­onds of the 2016 na­tional ti­tle game were some of the most dra­matic in col­lege bas­ket­ball his­tory.

North Carolina’s Mar­cus Paige hit an off-bal­ance 3-pointer to tie the game with 4.7 sec­onds left, only to be up­staged by Vil­lanova’s Kris Jenk­ins hit­ting a buzzer­beat­ing, game-win­ning 3-pointer.

Amid all the drama, Vil­lanova coach Jay Wright re­mained calm. When Jenk­ins let go of his shot, Wright non­cha­lantly said “Bang,” then walked over to shake Tar Heels coach Roy Williams’ hand as if the Wild­cats had just won an ex­hi­bi­tion game, not a na­tional cham­pi­onship.

Smooth as one of his de­signer suits, Wright turned Vil­lanova into a na­tional pow­er­house dur­ing the 2010s, lead­ing the Wild­cats to two na­tional ti­tles while chang­ing the way col­lege bas­ket­ball is played.

Wright’s suc­cess on the out

skirts of Philadel­phia made him a run­away choice as men’s coach of the decade. He re­ceived 16 of 24 votes from a panel of As­so­ci­ated Press poll vot­ers, well ahead of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski with five votes. Gon­zaga’s Mark Few, Ken­tucky’s John Cali­pari and Vir­ginia’s Tony Ben­nett had one each.

“Jay Wright’s re­sume speaks for it­self with two na­tional ti­tles in the 2010s,” ESPN an­a­lyst and AP voter Dick Vi­tale said. “He has de­vel­oped a con­sis­tent win­ner and has en­joyed suc­cess on and off the court. He has a spe­cial win­ner’s men­tal­ity.” Be­fore he ar­rived, Vil­lanova was known for up­set­ting Ge­orge­town in the 1986 na­tional cham­pi­onship game and the oc­ca­sional trip to the NCAA Tour­na­ment.

Wright needed three years to build a foun­da­tion be­fore Vil­lanova broke through with a trip to the 2005 Sweet 16. An Elite Eight ap­pear­ance fol­lowed the next year and the Wild­cats reached the Fi­nal Four in 2009.

Vil­lanova won its first na­tional ti­tle un­der Wright in 2016 on Jenk­ins’ shot and dec­i­mated the NCAA Tour­na­ment field in 2018, win­ning ev­ery game by dou­ble dig­its on its way to the na­tional ti­tle.

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