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April 3, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Jay Wright. We'll take questions.
Q. Regular Friday practice, right?
COACH WRIGHT: It's a great experience out there. I think it's really good preparation for our guys because when they come in here tomorrow night, they will never have seen anything like that.
So today's practice, they've never seen anything like. It's just a good start. We talked about that. Just how to handle the distractions around us and try to keep our concentration, we talk about 94-by-50 feet. It was great. The fans were great, too.
Q. You've had a few days to probably watch Scottie play about a thousand times. Can you talk about what the most amazing parts of that mad scramble were and why are we in love so much with the last-second heroics in this sport?
COACH WRIGHT: Well, I think there was a lot of amazing parts of that play. If you asked me for the most, I think it was the fact that Scottie went up into the defender's arms. I thought the defender did a great job. You don't want to foul there. You want to keep your hands straight up. You want to contest the shot. The guy did everything he was supposed to do, and Scottie still completed the play. That's what was amazing about it.
The last-second shot is, I think, only to basketball. Even the Hail Mary pass, you've got -- you know, you get to stop, run the play. In basketball, it happens so fast, and it can happen right as the horn blow. I don't think there's anything like that in sports. It's probably one of the biggest thrills in sports.
Q. Your teams always seem to pride themselves on defense. How much of that is a coach motivating them or challenging them and how much of it is that's just the type of guys they are, the type of guys you recruit?
COACH WRIGHT: I think you need both. We try to look for players that we think we will be able to get to commit to being good defensive players, and eventually want to internalize that so that they look at themselves as that's who they are. And we have to teach them. But you try to find guys, we use the word 'voluntary cooperation,' that are going to voluntarily cooperate to get themselves that way for us.
Q. Are you ready to play a game at this point? Do you think your players are getting to that point, too?
COACH WRIGHT: You know, I think we all are ready to play. But it actually has worked out pretty nicely here. I think we needed -- I don't know if it's because of our game ended the way it did against Pitt, but we needed a couple of days to enjoy that and come down from that.
I thought Tuesday, we didn't really have a great practice. I think we were still coming down from that. And then Wednesday, we started to pick it up again. And we had a great practice Wednesday, great practice yesterday. I said to the guys today, "We have one more day to get through. This is the challenge, where we stay focused. That's our challenge."
I actually think it's probably perfect times. If I had to change thinking, maybe play a little earlier tomorrow, that's all. But I think the timing's perfect.
Q. Tyler Hansbrough is known for being aggressive under the basket, drawing fouls. What do you see in that that helps him and how do you intend to contend with that?
COACH WRIGHT: Well, I believe he's made the most free throws of any player in the history of college basketball. If you look at all the stats, three-point shots made, whatever, That might be one of the most impressive stats you can have, to get yourself to the foul line and be smart enough. Over 80% free-throw shooter. You're getting a foul on your opponent and you're getting two points.
What he does a great job of is he gets the defender out of position, and he's so strong that he actually creates contact with the ball. Lesser players use their shoulders, their arms. He uses the ball and puts it into your body. It's brilliant. You got to be really strong to do that. That's what he does, I think, better than anybody I've seen in a long time.
Q. Foul trouble, though?
COACH WRIGHT: We're talking to them about it. But I'm sure every coach that's played against him has talked to their guys. We do not want to lose our aggressiveness. I don't want to make it such an issue that we lose our aggressiveness.
Q. Can you honestly say you never second-guessed yourself by declining to talk to Kentucky?
COACH WRIGHT: This time?
Q. Last time.
COACH WRIGHT: Last time. Yeah, you always do. You know, I heard John Calipari say, if he didn't do that this time, he'd always be wondering what if. Right after you do it, and you see what the guy signs for, you know, for a second, you go, Wow, that will buy a lot of horses.
Once you get back to what you're doing with your school, after that, honestly, I love where I am. Once I got back coaching Villanova, I just know this is why I love Villanova, working with the people there. So since then, honestly, never.
Q. Yesterday North Carolina was described as an army, a machine, unstoppable. You fielded a lot of questions about being the only coach in this Final Four where this is new turf for you. How will you go about or how have you gone about getting your guys to believe that they win tomorrow night?
COACH WRIGHT: Honestly, this group, more than any group I've ever coached anywhere -- even at Hofstra, sometimes we won games against some great teams at Hofstra, and the goal going into the game was we got to convince the guys that they can do it.
With this group, we have never had to do that. They just have a confidence about them. They have a belief in what we do. It's the most enjoyable, probably easiest coaching job we've ever had. I wouldn't want to make something up for you and tell them I have this great inspirational speech for them, because I don't. I haven't throughout this tournament. They bring it every day. That's what makes this group special.
Q. The company you're keeping this weekend, three coaches that have been in the Final Four, how special that is for the program?
COACH WRIGHT: It's very humbling. It's a thrill. I'm more a fan probably of the game and of the coaches myself, and a student of the coaches, than I am, the accolades that come with this. I told Jim Calhoun, I watched his tapes. I went to watch him in clinics. Tom Izzo is a guy I talked to throughout my career and learned from. Roy Williams honestly to me was like a god. Every time he would say hello to me on the road, was polite, nice, knew my name, I was impressed. That's just the truth.
As I was saying, our guys don't look at it that way. Some people in our party last night after that dinner, the NCAA runs a dinner, CBS last night, just amazing. We're up on stage with those guys. A lot of people in our party says, Wow, it was really cool to see you up there with those guys.
I felt the same way.
But our players don't say that. They're such a great group. They're ball players. They're coming out of there saying, What do we do next, Coach?
Q. We're seeing a lot of retrospectives on the '85 team. I bring it up just to ask, obviously you're an underdog in this game. Do you feel you have to play the perfect game and shoot 78%, not make a single mistake to win on Saturday?
COACH WRIGHT: I really don't. And I think that's the difference between this team and maybe that team in '85. You know, they were an 8 seed. That year, Georgetown was just incredible, intimidating. Carolina is probably just as good as that Georgetown team.
Coach Mass was great at creating that atmosphere. He loved being the underdog. He could convince you in the beginning of the week, you better listen to him, because there's no way in the world you can win this game. So if you don't listen to him, you're going to get killed. By the end of the week, you believed there's no way we're losing this game. He was the master at that.
I can't do that. I'm not as good at that. Our players believe they can win. We use a term, we don't have to play perfect, we just have to play together. That's how we're gonna play and our guys believe we're gonna win that way.
Q. In terms of your family, what has this experience meant to them? Your kids, what is the most exciting part about being here at the Final Four?
COACH WRIGHT: My daughter has been with us the whole way. She's loving it. My two boys are playing high school baseball, so they're flying in tonight. They watched the show last night, the CBS show, on the Internet. They said the same thing. They're like, Wow, it was cool seeing dad up there with those guys. They think those guys are good coaches. They just think I'm dad.
So my boys will get in here tonight, and my wife has been with me the whole way. That's really been a thrill for the three of us to watch. You know what they really loved, they love watching our players. They love our players. My wife, my daughter, our kids, watching their excitement, they love that. It's pretty cool.
Q. From the start of the season right up through the Big East tournament, we asked you about the upside of playing in such a physical conference and the downside. Now that you're here in the Final Four, what do you think were either the benefits or not of coming through the schedule in the Big East?
COACH WRIGHT: One of the benefits I've learned right now is that we're a pretty physically powerful team. If we weren't, we would have gotten beat up in the Big East with injuries. There were years in the past where I remember a few years ago when we played Kentucky in the first round, Michael Nard, who was six foot, 165-pound guard from Elizabeth, New Jersey, was hurt in the Big East tournament, just banged up. Got to the NCAA tournament, he was banged up. Curtis Sumpter was hurt. We just didn't have the depth. We have a great strength coach in Lon Record that we didn't have before.
I'm starting to realize, when they're your guys, they don't seem as big and strong to you. Coming through that league, I think we've realized, we're a pretty strong team, and it has made us better and tougher.
At the same time, I've learned we better do this every year. We better be physically strong. We better get guys like that, or this league can beat you up physically.
Q. You took a moment during your remarks at the end of practice to mention the coaches, that sort of fraternity up in the stands that's here every year for the Friday practices. You watch what's going on. Can you recall some of the times you were here for those and somebody's drill that you liked the looks of, made a note on? If you are the Cinderella here, are you here for some guys that look down and say, That must be a lot of fun?
COACH WRIGHT: I hope so, I really do. I hope we're one of those teams, one of those guys. Just a couple years ago, when Georgetown was here, I really think the world of John Thompson III and his wife, we're good friends, my seats that the NCAA gives you was right next to the Georgetown student section, they were chanting Big East to me. I was rooting for Georgetown with them. I remember watching there, thinking, Man, that's just so great for him. Not even thinking we were going to be there.
I remember when I was an assistant at the University of Rochester, my first couple years, I was so naive. I came to these practices and I took notes. And certain teams, the first year I ever did it, Villanova was here, and certain teams didn't really run a lot of drills. I didn't even know that they would practice somewhere else before they came in here. I just didn't know. I was thinking, Man, this is how they're practicing a day before the game? I was just so naive.
But I took notes on everything everybody did. Coach Massimino's team was real lose. They played pickup games. I was thinking, What is he doing? I remember watching Carolina's practices. I remember watching in the Meadowlands when Calipari's team was there, taking notes from everybody. I always had notes from those practices.
Even last year, I took little notes, I snuck and saw Davidson practice, because Bob McKillop was a guy I always worked for at his camp. It was a thrill to be there. We purposely did some drills because I thought, you know, if it helps some coaches in the stands, that's great, 'cause it helped me.
Q. How would you describe your philosophy regarding timeouts? Are you a guy that likes to save them to the end or use them throughout the games? Do you have a philosophy?
COACH WRIGHT: You know, it's total feel. It is different games, different situations. In our game against Marquette in the Big East tournament, we did something we normally wouldn't do. We took a timeout knowing that we wouldn't have one for the last possession offensively. We rarely do that, but we just felt like we needed to at that time. Obviously in the Pitt game, we did save it.
Sometimes we use them in the first half, and we need do. Sometimes we don't. It's just total feel.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH WRIGHT: Thank you very much, guys.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Villanova student-athletes. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Dante, Tyler Hansbrough has a knack for drawing fouls. What have you seen on tape that enables him to do that and how do you plan to defend without getting into too much foul trouble?
DANTE CUNNINGHAM: Well, a lot of times he pump fakes. He likes to do that a lot. He takes his time in the post. I just have to stay down, be conscious of it, not go for his ball fakes.
Q. Yesterday North Carolina was described as a machine, an army, unstoppable, unbeatable. When you look at North Carolina, what do you see and how do you feel about being or not being underdogs?
DWAYNE ANDERSON: Everyone knows they're an offensive machine. We take pride in ourselves of defending and rebounding. So we definitely want to try to limit Ty Lawson's on the open floor, limit Wayne Ellington's shots. But as far as them being unstoppable, I don't think they're undefeated, so they definitely can be beat. But it should be a great match.
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: Along with that, you know, we have great confidence in what we do. It's taken us this far and we're not going to change anything we've been doing.
I think offensively and defensively, we're not going to try to play perfect. We just got to play together and play off of one another. As long as we do that, we feel we have great confidence that we can go out there and perform a pretty good basketball game.
Q. Scottie, it's been a few days since you hit the shot. Can you talk about different people coming up to you, the anecdotes of people telling you how cool it was. Who are your favorite last-second shots and how does your compare?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: It's been unbelievable. Everywhere I go, I go, that's the only thing anybody talks about. Especially back in Philadelphia, they had a pep rally, parade in my honor. This he going bonkers down there.
But as far as the shots that I know in history, the Danny Ainge, Tyus Edney, we'll have to see where that adds up. Hopefully it will go down in history. Hopefully, they'll say we won a championship, as well.
Q. Scottie, what do you know about the 1985 game? Is it like watching some old black-and-white film? Have you watched it?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: I haven't watched like the whole game, but the highlights. Growing up in Virginia, not too far away from D.C., we know about -- all of us know about the Georgetown teams, especially when Villanova upseted [sic] them. People talk about them playing the perfect game, shooting, what, 70-something percent.
I don't think we have to play a perfect game. We don't have to shoot 70-something percent. Like I said before, we just have to go out there, be more together, play hard, play with more pride than the other team.
Q. Scottie, the other day, Ty Lawson said he spent some time at the casinos. I was wondering what you thought about that? Have you gone? If you haven't gone, did Jay say anything to you about the casinos?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: You know, we try to stay all together as a team, eating together, just doing certain things together. We haven't been at the casinos. We haven't been gambling or anything.
As far as Ty, we know when it comes time for him to step on the court, he's going to lead his team to the next game, next round, so we don't expect anything different from him.
Q. You've been doing this for a week now, 'sing the same questions. How eager are you to have this part be over and play a game tomorrow?
DWAYNE ANDERSON: I think we're very prepared. We just can't wait to get on the floor. This is a wonderful experience. We're not looking past this. We're letting it soak in, all the media and different stuff we have to do for the Final Four.
For example, last night, we was watching film. Reggie, I looked over, I could see in his eyes, he just cannot wait to be on the floor. So we're definitely counting down till the ball goes up in the air.
Q. When Sampson went to Indiana, what happened with you not going there?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: Oh, man.
Q. How difficult of an adjustment was it going through the motion of losing your coach and going to Villanova sight unseen?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: I have a bad memory (smiling). I was definitely thinking about going to Indiana, and some of the recruits that were already going to Oklahoma actually were thinking about going as well. It just didn't happen that way. I think we all just wanted to stay close to home. Damien stayed in Texas. He from Texas. I stayed, like, two and a half hours from where I'm from. So that was that situation.
Losing your coach, losing a lot of things that you put into the recruiting process and bringing guys to Oklahoma, it was definitely tough. I think everybody stayed together and made the best decisions for themselves individually. Coach Capel has done an unbelievable job at Oklahoma. I have great respect for him, what he's done there.
As far as Villanova, I couldn't have scripted it any better, coming here, being able to play as a freshman, being with these guys that are basically from the same area, just growing as a Villanova basketball player, growing as a man. Hopefully that's going to continue, not just the rest of this year, but next year as well.
Q. Dante, you've played against a lot of good big men in the Big East. How does Hansbrough compare stylistically, performance-wise? What's similar?
DANTE CUNNINGHAM: What's different between Tyler and some other big men, he faces up a little bit more. He has a low midrange jump shot. He puts the ball on the floor a lot. I have to use a lot more of my quickness against him, not go for his pump fakes.
Q. In the off-season, Scottie, did you spend any time with Ty, did the Kansas game come up from last year's Final Four?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: Nah, it never came up. Honestly, not just me, but these guys as well, when we're not like at Villanova or something, we don't really talk too much about that. That's our time where we can just be ourselves, laid back, let our hair down, get our feet wet, just chill a little bit.
Everybody has to get away sometimes. You know, we go play summer games, summer league games, workout together. We just relax, have a good time.
Q. Dwayne, you don't have the Final Four experience, but you were out here in Detroit last year. Does that familiarity help at all?
DWAYNE ANDERSON: Definitely. Last year I remember when we came on the floor for the first open practice, we came out and we were like kind of in awe because of the atmosphere, the size of the arena, et cetera.
This year we came out, it was strictly business. There was a lot of fans. We enjoy that.
Basically this is a business trip for us. We have plenty of guys that seen this last year. So hopefully it will be an advantage. UNC played here before. Michigan, it's like a home game for them. I don't think anyone has the upper advantage.
Q. Dante, does it amaze you that this is Coach Wright's first time coaching a Final Four, yet he's still out there seemingly as relaxed as ever? What is it about him that enables him to retain that level of cool?
DANTE CUNNINGHAM: Everybody know that Coach Wright is smooth, calm, collected. He seems never to be rattled, regardless of what's going on. I think where our team pretty much gets it from. When we're down, when things go wrong, we're cool and never in a panic.
I mean, to be in a first Final Four, I know I'm nervous. I know I'm excited. I'm pretty sure he is, too. But you definitely have to keep it in perspective.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, gentlemen, and good luck tomorrow.
End of FastScripts