Villanova's Wright would prefer sideline to studio

Posted: March 19, 2012

Above all else, Villanova's Jay Wright took one thing away from last week's 3-day experience working in Atlanta as a studio analyst for the NCAA Tournament coverage on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.

"As much as I enjoyed it, I learned how much I love coaching," he said. "And they said that to me when I left. They said they thought I did a great job, but we hope we don't have to use you again [next year]. And I said, 'Well I hope I don't see you either.' "

This was the first time Wright's Wildcats (13-18) were not part of the Madness since 2004, so the point is duly noted.

Still . . . 

"I did it last year for CBS, for one day [after his team had been eliminated in the first round], but it was for the Sweet 16 weekend, so this was different," Wright said. "We went in there on Wednesday night for the play-in games and prelim shows, but Thursday and Friday was all day, from 11 until 1 in the morning. You never leave. You get breaks, but you watch games.

"I really gained a great deal of respect for the team. The producer, TK [Tim Kiely], he's a unique guy. He does the NBA show with Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley. There's like 40 people involved in putting it together. When you're on the air everybody's talking to you, giving you info, bringing you stats, food. It's amazing. To watch it all work is really cool.

"You go back to the hotel and go to sleep, then you get back up and do it again. The first morning they picked you up at 7:30, for an 8 o'clock meeting. The next day it was like 9:30. But other than that, same thing. I know on Friday I didn't get back to my room until 2:30."

Wright was part of a panel that included host Matt Winer, Seth Davis (Sports Illustrated) and former Michigan State standout Steve Smith. Don't know how much Wright or the crew had to do with it, but the ratings were the highest they've been in almost two decades.

"It was fun, but definitely challenging," Wright said. "When I did it for CBS, there were a lot less games. This really made you feel like you were behind the scenes, seeing what everybody does. It can get kind of overwhelming. You're trying to watch what's going on, and also pay attention to what it is you're trying to do. It's nonstop.

"But you have everything to help you. If you miss something they'll rewind it to show you what happened. They're just always coaching you, in your ear, telling you to just have fun with it. So that's what I tried to do. Again, they make you feel like part of a team. I just tried to be honest. I hope it came across the right way."

And next March hopefully he can go back to being one of the guys getting critiqued by some coach who wishes he didn't have such an early wakeup call.

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