The defending national champion Villanova Wildcats captured their third ever Big East championship on Saturday night, defeating Creighton 74-60 at Madison Square Garden.
Our own Felix John-Baptiste asked Villanova head coach Jay Wright after the game about the prospect of repeating and what it’s been like having that target on their backs all season:
Just knowing that the only way we can get there is the same way we got there before… Not thinking about the target, not thinking about repeating, just taking it one game at a time and enjoying that step.. Not fearing failure, just enjoying the next challenge, taking on the next challenge.. Giving it out best effort and our total commitment. If we give it our best effort and total commitment, we can accept the result..
The good thing is the coaching staff has been around long enough, and some of these guys were on the team where we lost to NC State, we lost to Seton Hall, these guys were on the team. So they know that. Mike Nardi’s on our staff.. I think we were a 1-seed against Monmouth and we almost got beat. One year we went to the Final Four and we almost lost to American in the first round. Dunleavy and Mike Nardi were on those teams, now they’re on the staff. So we talked to the guys about that, and I think they understand that.
We also spoke with Villanova star guard Josh Hart, the Big East Player of the Year and Tournament MVP. Hart’s 29 points in the Big East championship tied Kerry Kittles (’95) and Scottie Reynolds (’07) for most points by a Villanova player in the Big East Tournament. Our own John-Baptiste asked about the mindset for his team going into the NCAA Tournament as they try and repeat:
Basketball Society’s John-Baptiste asked Hart about the mindset for his team going into the NCAA Tournament as they try and repeat:
Anybody can beat you on any given day. When it comes to the tournament, y’all see it, games come down to one possession, two possessions. Anyone can beat anybody, so we gotta go in and be focused and pay attention to detail. We can’t think one team is better than the other because when you think that, that’s when you’re gonna lose.
The Wildcats are expected to earn a no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament during Selection Sunday.