Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
No. 1 Villanova Still Learning in their Title Defense Season
VILLANOVA, Pa. — JayWright and the Villanova Wildcats are the defending national champions, and the current No. 1 team in the country.
But they’re still learning.
“I think we learned a great lesson last year,” Wright said about Villanova achieving their No. 1 ranking. “We learned a lesson again when we went to Butler. You keep learning from it, that’s what we take from it.”
After scooping up their 47th straight victory at the Pavilion Monday night in a 76-46 rout of SetonHall, the Wildcats improved to 18-1 on the season. For a senior laden team whose been to the pinnacle of success in the world of college basketball, the idea that the group can learn much more may seem foreign.
For a team coached by the likes of Wright, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
“That’s just a number,” senior KrisJenkins said about focusing on the Wildcats’ ranking. “We could lose our next game and we won’t be No. 1.”
The Wildcats recaptured the top spot of the Associated Press’s men’s basketball poll after a week hiatus that saw Baylor nab the highest honor. It was the third time in a year Villanova was placed atop the rest of their contemporaries.
Wright and Co. know enough by now to not let the buzz sway their attention.
“I came home today and (Patty Wright) said, ‘You’re No. 1,'” Wright said. “It’s just at the point where it’s like ‘eh’ you know, it’s not that really big of a deal this time. I think we were all much more concerned about Seton Hall. We found out at pregame meal today, we didn’t talk about it. I think the guys have been around it enough to know that it really don’t mean much at this point of the year.”
Paying so little attention to the polling system in college basketball, Wright even admitted he needed to learn about how the voting goes. Villanova jumped Kansas after being slotted at No. 3 last week, leaving the Jayhawks at No. 2 for back-to-back weeks.
Kansas even held an advantage in first-place votes over Villanova, 32 to 28.
“I don’t really know how the voting works,” Wright said. “I’m gonna study that up, we didn’t have as many first-place votes. I’m still learning.”
A championship caliber team, with a veteran coach, who openly recognizes they still have areas that need improvement is a dangerous concoction.
Just ask the man who faced it head on Monday night.
“I don’t want to play this team on one day preparation again,” Seton Hall head coach KevinWillard said. “They’re good. I think we should be talking more about how good Villanova is, and the chance they have at winning back-to-back championships. Because that’s pretty exciting.”
As March nears with the Wildcats’ shot at repeating as national champions, there may not be anything left to learn.
But in the eyes of Wright, Villanova has to harness their A-game on a nightly basis to pull off such a feat.
“We’re trying to get consistency to play like we played tonight, every night.” Wright said.
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