Jay does it Wright



Kristian Stefanides

Jay Wright, the men’s basketball coach, took time out of his busy schedule (in an airport) to discuss all things Villanova basketball with The Villanovan. Wright, who is also known for his dapper suit game, recently led the Wildcats to a 33-3 season and a Big East Tournament Title, earning himself the Big East Coach of the Year award for the second year in a row. Not to mention a 17-0 home record. Having been head coach of the Wildcats since 2001, Wright has developed into an icon on campus and beyond (Anyone remember that national Dove soap commercial that we were all lucky to witness?). Wright serves as a role model to not only his players, but the entire ‘Nova Nation and it is obvious how he bleeds blue and white and fully invests himself in the University’s mission.

TV: What do you want new students to know about Villanova basketball?

JW: Their participation in terms of getting to the game early, their impact in the student section at the Wells Fargo games, at all the Pavilion games, their impact on our program is really important. How they conduct themselves in the student section with great passion and with class in representing Villanova to the country is important. Every game is on national TV. Every game is on Fox Sports 1 or ESPN, so our student section is nationally televised every game. It’s just a great opportunity to show the country our passion and our loyalty to Villanova.

TV: What does the word “attitude” mean to you and the team? How’d it get started?

JW: We want our guys to approach life with a great attitude every day and we want them to play the game of basketball with a great attitude. Our guys understand that the greatest characteristic you can have is your attitude, a great attitude. It’s one of the few things you have a choice about in life. We really don’t have much control of our lives, but we do have control of our attitude. Whatever is going on, whatever we’re confronted with, we have a choice and we want to make the choice every day to have a positive, enthusiastic attitude.

TV: How would you describe your coaching style?

JW: [Attitude] plays a big part. I try to do the same thing. I try to approach everything we do with a great attitude, a positive attitude. I try to approach every situation in a game that way. But most importantly, I want our players to understand that they don’t have to be perfect. They just have to give their best effort and be unselfish, think about others and give their best effort at being intelligent as a student and as a player. And then finally, take pride in being a part of Villanova and realizing how fortunate they are to be a part of Villanova.

TV: Beyond basketball talent, what are some important qualities that you look for in a player?

JW: Obviously we want talented basketball players but we want talented basketball players that want to be a part of the student body at Villanova, that want to come in and obviously be a part of the great Villanova basketball tradition. But they want to be a part of the student body, they want to be a part of the freshmen class, they want to live on South Campus with everybody, they want those friendships for life, they want to be a part of Villanova for life—that’s very important to us.

TV: What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming season?

JW: We have great leadership in Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono. We have two seniors that are true Villanovans, great players. They’ve had a lot of success. They really take pride in our program. They really take pride in bringing our young guys along and teaching them the Villanova family and the Villanova traditions. So I really look forward to going into probably the toughest schedule we’ve ever had. I’m looking forward to going into that with the leadership of Ryan and Daniel and the youth and exuberance of the rest of the team.

We are thrilled with our freshmen class. Each one is different. Jalen is a really intelligent crafty point guard. Dante is a really athletic, explosive scoring guard. Jim Delaney is a very skilled, tough forward.  I feel like we’ve got all three positions filled and I think they show me a great respect for our program and our University.

TV: Villanova is a special place for all of us. What’s something you really value about this place?

JW: We try to find the kind of players that fit what I see in Villanova. I love that we have really intelligent, driven people that want to be a part of a community. That’s what I love about Villanova. I think we have a unique combination of driven, intelligent, hard working people that want to share their lives within a community and others. They want to impact people around them and impact their community and the world. Villanova students have a really unique combination of those characteristics.

TV: What would you say is one of your all-time favorite coaching moments?

JW: This year’s win against Xavier in Madison Square Garden to win the Big East Championship is definitely by far one of the most memorable that Villanova Basketball experienced and Scottie Reynolds hitting the shot against Pittsburgh to send us to the Final Four, probably those two. 

TV: What’s one of your favorite memories in the Pavilion?

JW: Probably each year, my favorite game at the Pavilion is senior night. Darrun Hilliard had a monster game on senior night. I love senior night when our seniors stand up. JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard stand up on the media table and they face the students and we all stand behind them and sing the fight song together. Every year that’s my favorite moment in the Pavilion. Our last home game, our seniors standing up facing their classmates and all the students facing them. I try to take a picture of that every year.

TV: Where’s your favorite place to eat on campus?

JW: My favorite place to eat, believe it or not, is the salad bar in Dougherty Hall. I love it. And it’s a place where you can see the most students and talk to everybody and see everybody.

TV: What’s one of your favorite things to do when you’re not coaching?

JW: My favorite thing to do is just simple things with my family. Just hanging out at home watching an Eagles game. Go for a walk with my wife and my dogs. Those simple things. We travel so much and we work so much. 


This interview has been edited for clarity and length.