Mike Sielski: Jay Wright is becoming the TV face of college hoops. He'd be nuts to coach again.

Mike Sielski, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

Halftime of Connecticut-St. Mary’s on Sunday night in the NCAA Tournament’s second round, UConn up one, and if you left your television tuned to TNT during the break, you saw and heard Jay Wright in his sweet spot. He knew the coaches and teams well — the Huskies’ Danny Hurley from all those Big East battles, the Gaels’ Randy Bennett from two recent Villanova-St. Mary’s March Madness matchups. So well that, as he watched UConn’s guards defend St. Mary’s guards for pretty much the full length of the floor, as he watched Bennett allow his guys to drive the ball to the hoops, Wright knew what Bennett and Hurley were doing and why.

So after Seth Davis and Candace Parker weighed in, Ernie Johnson cued Wright for his insight.

“St. Mary’s likes to look really pretty in their halfcourt offense — and here’s where you get into the ego of coaches,” Wright said. “Randy Bennett’s teams always look like they run great offense. Danny Hurley’s saying, ‘You’re not going to look pretty tonight. We’re going to get up in you. We’re not leaving to help anybody. Your guys are going to have to go one-on-one.’ [St. Mary’s is] hanging. We’ll see how long they can do it. That can wear you down, too, and that one-on-one play might be the product of a little fatigue late.”

Johnson gave him a playful smirk.

“Did you reference the ego of coaches?” he asked Wright. “Is that what you said?”

“Did that slip out?” Wright said.


“Does that exist?”

“That came from here” — Wright pointed to his gut — “and it went right out my mouth. It didn’t pass my brain. Sorry ‘bout that.”

‘Grateful to be by his side’

Jay Wright would be crazy to coach again. That was the big question 11 months ago, after he shocked the public by retiring after 21 years, four Final Fours, and two national championships at Villanova: Would he ever return to the sideline? He was 60 at the time. Nothing about the sport had passed him by or would for a while. College? Nah. He was never going to have it as good anywhere else as he had it at Villanova. But it was fair to wonder whether the right NBA offer might coax him back — maybe the 76ers or the Lakers or the Knicks.


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