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Jay Wright

SPORTS
March 12, 2014 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
A YEAR ago, the 15-team Big East sent eight teams to the NCAA Tournament. Five of them - eventual champion Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse (Final Four), Notre Dame and Cincinnati - are now playing in other conferences. As is Connecticut, which was ineligible. And even West Virginia, another four-letter fixture that had left a year earlier. That's how change works sometimes. Only Villanova and Creighton, one of the three newcomers in what's become a reconfigured 10-team alignment, are in the Top 25. Five different Big East teams made seven trips to the Final Four the past five seasons.
SPORTS
March 10, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Jay Wright gave his Villanova players the opportunity to celebrate their Big East Conference regular-season championship with commemorative T-shirts, and he even donned one himself Saturday after the Wildcats concluded an exceptional run through the league. But once the Wildcats finish enjoying themselves, they will begin the really hard work. And that's not just on the basketball court. The sixth-ranked Wildcats showed they had no intention of relaxing with the title safely in hand, rolling to a methodical, 77-59 victory over Georgetown before a crowd of 18,828 at the Wells Fargo Center.
SPORTS
March 8, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
CINCINNATI - No one said it would be easy for Villanova to come to Xavier and play in a venue where the host team had lost just one game all season and clinch the Big East Conference regular-season championship, even though the Musketeers were without their best inside player. Well, if you're attempting to win the outright crown for the first time since the 1981-82 season, it's not supposed to be easy. With a 12-point lead late, what looked like a 'Nova victory Thursday night turned into a scary experience in the final 1 minute, 11 seconds before free throws by Josh Hart and James Bell finally salted away the sixth-ranked Wildcats' 77-70 victory at the Cintas Center and the No. 1 seed in next week's conference tournament.
SPORTS
March 7, 2014 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
CINCINNATI - It hasn't happened all that often. Villanova won the Big East regular-season title in 1981-82 and tied for first the following year. The Wildcats also earned the top seed in 1996-97, when they took their half of what was then a two-division conference. And they were the No. 2 seed in their Elite Eight season of 2005-06, when they lost the tiebreaker with Connecticut. Last night at the Cintas Center, a team that was picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll secured the No. 1 spot in next week's Big East Tournament in New York by beating Xavier (20-11, 10-8)
SPORTS
March 4, 2014 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
SO IF YOU had told Villanova coach Jay Wright that his team's top scorer, James Bell, would get shut out yesterday at the Wells Fargo Center but the eighth-ranked Wildcats still would beat Marquette by 17, he would have said what? "No way," was the response, as expected. Yet it didn't matter that Bell and his 16-point average got into early foul trouble and shot 0-for-3 in 20 minutes. Or even that lead guard Ryan Arcidiacono found himself in the same predicament and was also limited to playing half a game.
SPORTS
March 4, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
The situation was not a favorable one for No. 8 Villanova early in Sunday's game against Marquette. James Bell, the team's leading scorer, and Ryan Arcidiacono, its floor leader, were on the bench in foul trouble barely six minutes in, leading to concern about who would provide the points against the Golden Eagles' relentless defense. Enter junior guard Darrun Hilliard and four members of the Wildcats' bench corps, who picked up the scoring slack and carried the team to a 73-56 Big East Conference win over Marquette in front of 15,026 at the Wells Fargo Center.
SPORTS
March 4, 2014 | By Mike Sielski, Inquirer Columnist
Jay Wright did not build his reputation at Villanova, has not maintained a consistent measure of excellence in his basketball program over the last decade, with players like Darrun Hilliard. Hilliard is a Villanova guard, and for a long time, the term "Villanova guard" has carried a certain connotation, has conjured memories of certain players who played a certain way and fit a certain physical and stylistic profile. When one thinks of a "Villanova guard" during Wright's tenure as head coach, the names are familiar: Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Kyle Lowry, Mike Nardi, Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns - none of them taller than 6-foot-4, all of them tougher than goatskin, each a key contributor to a nine-year stretch that saw the Wildcats reach the NCAA tournament eight times, the regional semifinals four times, the regional finals twice, and the Final Four once.
SPORTS
March 3, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
When he entered Montverde Academy, a basketball power near his home in Orlando, James Bell could already dunk. He exhibited athleticism that might have led him to the NBA after an abbreviated college career, like his former AAU teammate Austin Rivers. But that scenario fell flat. Injuries hounded Bell from late in his junior year at Montverde and continued after he entered Villanova. As a freshman, he needed surgery to repair stress fractures in both legs that could have ended his college career before it began.
SPORTS
February 28, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
In honoring Villanova's veteran players on senior night, the sellout crowd at the Pavilion wanted a gift of its own - watching James Bell score the 1,000th point of his career. It mattered only to the crowd that Bell fell six points short Wednesday night, scoring 11 in the eighth-ranked Wildcats' 67-48 Big East win over Butler that gave the home team a record-tying 25th regular-season victory. Falling short of 1,000 didn't matter to Bell, a 6-foot-6 senior who is a top contender for Big Five player of the year.
SPORTS
February 27, 2014 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
VILLANOVA SENIOR guard James Bell is averaging nearly 16 points a game, which is a team best and almost twice what he scored last season, six rebounds (tied for team high with center Daniel Ochefu) and shooting 40 percent from the arc. The Wildcats are 24-3 and ranked eighth, heading into tonight's game against Butler (12-15, 2-13 Big East) at the Pavilion. Don't even think about asking which numbers mean more to him. He wouldn't need words to answer. The look he'd give you would be sufficient.
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