I thought the article linked below was a great summation of the culture Jay Wright has built at Villanova. I got to talking to a coaching friend who’s been able to observe the Villanova program closely over the last several years and he marveled at Wright’s ability to get his players to buy into his vision of “Villanova Basketball” (a phrase that Wright utters constantly, according to my friend). I believe that buy-in is directly correlated to the shift in Villanova’s recruiting philosophy that is discussed in the linked article. It’s interesting to note that the worst 3-year stretch of Wright’s tenure at ‘Nova coincided with the maturation of the 2009 recruiting class that was heralded as the country’s 2nd best class in the nation (and the highest-rated Wright has ever recruited to the school). That class failed to live up to expectations and eroded some of the culture that Wright had built at Villanova causing the head coach to reconsider his recruiting efforts. This sounds very similar to the changes Billy Donovan made at Florida that led to the school’s back-to-back national titles. I appreciate Chris Oliver (who runs a fantastic coaching website at Basketball Immersion) for passing this article along.
“Jay has great confidence in his abilities. I don’t mean that he is arrogant or cocky, but he is self-assured about how he wants to lead his program,” Nicastro said. “He came back and really doubled down on the type of players he wanted to recruit and the type of teammates he wanted to put together in the locker room. I don’t know if he felt it got away from him a little bit, but there was clearly a doubling down on the values and principles he had established.”