BOSTON – Head coach Chris Beard spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon when his team from Texas Tech was to compete with Villanova No. 1 against the right to go to San Antonio and play in the Final Four. A compliment to Jay Wright, which was praised as highly as another coach.
He attributed to the architect of this Villanova dynasty that he was changing college basketball for the better as he brought an innovation to the marketplace Bobby Knight and John Wooden before him brought the game to the market.
"Bob Knight switched basketball, he did with movement offenses, and coach [Eddie] Sutton has switched to basketball defense," said Beard. "In my generation, coach Jay Wright has changed basketball, he's the one who invented a little ball where your four-man threesome can shoot, they always have four guys on the ground shooting, I mean, so try ours
"I can not tell you how many players I have seen over the years, as Villanova wallpapered in my office and tried to get her to play the four, if her AAU coach and her Mother and her high school coaches think they are two, look, Villanova does, so this guy, he's transformed basketball, the way they play, we all do the same thing. "
And while the truth of that statement can be thoroughly debated, Wright was at least one of the first to play in the college ranks. And while Wright would like to write "Founder: Small-Ball Revolution, 2006-201
The necessity, after all, is the mother of the invention.
"We actually fell for it," Wright said with a laugh in a Back Gym at Peach Jam last summer, prepping to see a player who had promised his future to the Wildcats just a few months early. "We were in the NCAA tournament and Curtis Sumpter, our power forward, tore his ACL, we had to play North Carolina at Sweet 16. We had Kyle Lowry, who came off the bench, and we just had the feeling that Kyle Lowry when fourth guard was better than with a young, tall man. "
With a 6 Randy Foye, essentially, the Four plays. Villanova has met with the soon-to-be national champions, a team that has stars like Sean May, Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton, and Marvin Williams, No. 2, in the 2005 NBA Draft.
They lost by one point.
"We even went into the game," well, let's see how that works, "Wright said," but in this game we could see how tall they were. And we saw how it spread them, how they had to follow us, and how they opened paths to the basket. "
Eight months later, Sumpter resumed his ACL and Wright already had his answer, with the Wildcats playing four guards throughout the season and winning the regular season title in the Big East, winning first place in the NCAA tournament and qualified for elite eight when they lost a thriller to a Florida team For the last 25 years, he was the only national champion to stand in a row.
He knew he had something.
Since we did that, "Wright said," we've always just stuck with it. "
At a time when college coaches are more of a control freak, micro-managers who Jay Wright goes in the opposite direction
Villanova does not play offensively – they do not really have sets that call them, or a base offense involving them and actions Take countermeasures, at least not in the same way as other programs.
"You have five games," Beard said. 19659002] "If that," said a Big East coach to NBC Sports.
What Villanova does teaches "our concepts". That's how the people in the program put it, and they're pretty secretive about what those concepts are. Given the amount of film available through services like Synergy, most college programs will know exactly what each team plays, especially when it comes to a conference opponent. There are no secrets that can be of benefit to a program that decides to teach kids to basketball players rather than how to play a basketball game.
"I do not condemn Villanova's offenses," former Villanova point guard Ryan Arcidiacono said, but there is a method to insanity.
And in the end what they do and how it works is really not that complicated.
"They are a simple team, they only play basketball," said a coach who met Villanova during the NCAA tournament. "It all comes down to trying to make you lock up, then driving and kicking them in. They want to get you into situations where you have two guys on the ball, they make the right pass and they get an open shot. And they do it in different ways. [Jalen] Brunson posts, Mikal [Bridges] drives Doubling you? Do not you double? If you switch, they're looking for the discrepancy and drive. "
" Whatever it is 'They make the kick and the right pass and you're dead.'
What makes this version of Wildcats special? It is deadly that anyone can shoot in his top seven, they can pass and they can lay the ball on the ground and come to the edge. Not only that, but these pieces also have capabilities that go beyond what you would normally expect from someone in their position.
Take Brunson, for example. He is Villanova's point guard. He also likes to write post-up, which is not a floor space that most college point guards will defend comfortably or deftly.
Or how about Omari Spellman, who is Villanova's startup center. He is deadly of three points – as a cheeky Donven DiVincenzo put it, "Omari loves these threes" – and has added the ability to lay the ball on the ground and get to the edge that goes to the right. How many times did anyone, say, the center of Kansas, Udoka Azubuike, help his point guard in the post office and recover his man, a three-point shooter who can beat him from dribbling?
(Note: Not often.)
Villanova, like everyone in the Collegiate regions, has adopted basketball without direction. If your "Point Guard" picks the ball to your three-point shooter "center" so he can attack a final attack, you're doing things differently.
"We are looking for versatility now," Wright said. "We used to use the word" Tweener. "Now we use the word versatility." Diverse. "
" We want four guards on the ground, but we do not say [a player] is a guard because of its size say he's a guardian when he can do pick-and-roll shoot him, hit the ball, skip it. "
This is how you get into situations like Donte DiVincenzo, who probably will be a two-guard at some point in his career will play in the NBA. He plays in the middle.
"Sometimes they have me on the five screens, and I've never played the five in my life before," he said. "On the pitch it's great to know that the five can get an open shot at pick-and-pop or the five can get the ball and keep the ball and hold the ball."
"We do not run where, where If I'm the one, I have to bring the ball from here to here or if I'm the five, I have to set a screen here and here Everyone is playing each other out"
And that's the biggest difference when it comes to how Villanova plays now, and how they first played when Wright went to the small ball.
When Wright had a roster, the Foye, Lowry, Allan Ray and Mike Nardi, playmakers who were dynamic with the ball in their hands, Villanova played non-positional basketball as much as it made a conscious decision to play four lead guards simultaneously to play time. There is a difference. This team played Iso-Ball and they were good at it. What this Villanova team does is very different. This team plays down that everyone in the team can shoot the leather off the ball and that no player is on the list who is not ready to give the ball for a better shot.
The change According to Nardi, who is now assistant coach to the staff, "happened about five years ago", which fits two reasons:
First of all, the dominance that Villanova is experiencing is beginning. Since the beginning of the 2013/14 season, which was Villanova's first season in the new Big East, they have reached a record of 163-21. In other words, they have averaged 32.6 wins and 4.2 losses during this period. They have a 77-13 record in Big East play, which includes four Big East regular season titles and this year's second place. They have won three of the last five Big East tournament titles. They won the national title in 2016 and favor the nets in San Antonio this season.
I think it's pretty clear: it works.
But – and perhaps more importantly – that was right at the time when Jay Wright completely reevaluated the way he recruited. There was a point, in the late '00s, just as Villanova was making a run for the Final Four in 2009, Wright began recruiting based on rankings. He did not look for the players who fit in the way he wanted to play, he made players think every thought was one of the best in the country and hoped he could get them to do what he did wanted from them. 19659002] "I got sloppy," said Wright ESPN last month. "After we went to the Final Four, it was easy to get people, so instead of sitting down and explaining," Look, I know you want to come, but that's what we do, "I said "Alright, well, he's a great player? All right, good. "And then they came, we start talking about it and they say," Wow, nobody told me about it. "And they were right, we did not tell them what that was, some of them when they got here, they understood, some of them were like, 'Wait, that's not what I signed up for.'
"We had reached the low point after this season. What are we doing? We do not help these children. We are not faithful to our culture. That's up to me. That's a decision I made. That's the culture I've created for the last four years. These are the people I brought in. I have to change my clothes.
And he changed that.
It was not long before Wright got commitments from artists like Arcidiacono, Daniel Ocefu, Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart from the teams that would launch this present dynasty.
While all four of these guys are gone, the culture they've built with remains intact.
And, perhaps more importantly, the team, which is only two victories from one. The second national title in three years has not a single senior while three top-50 prospective buyers, including five-star guard Jahvon Quinerly, will sign up in the fall.
The Villanova-Buzzsaw will not shut down anytime soon
It was Friday night, minutes after Villanova ended the season and minutes in West Virginia, before Texas Tech was to speak out against Purdue to get to the Elite Eight 19659002] Tech's dressing room was 100 yards ahead Down the hall in the depths of Boston's TD Garden, where the media crowd had settled to await Jay Wright's return from the podium.
Chris Beard popped his head out of the locker room, music blaring as his team ran at full speed and skipped over for the first Sweet 16 of the program in 20 years, asking a reporter in the corridor if he had seen Jay walk by.
"I want to introduce myself," Beard explained. "I never met him."
That's the respect you get when you change the game.