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SPORTS
March 20, 2015 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
PITTSBURGH - Villanova has had its moments as a high seed in opening NCAA Tournament games. In 2006, as coach Jay Wright is fond of bringing up, when Monmouth made a run to get back in it against the top-seeded Wildcats, the crowd - as is often the case in those situations - started rooting for the team wearing the dark-colored jerseys. Even though it was being played in the Wells Fargo Center. But the Wildcats would make it to the Final Eight. In 2009, again in South Philly, the third-seeded Wildcats were losing to American by 14 early in the second half.
SPORTS
March 20, 2015 | By Mike Jensen, Inquirer Columnist
PITTSBURGH - So what can go wrong? It's hard to spin the ball that way when you're looking at Villanova right now. There may not be a more confident team in this NCAA tournament - on merit. The Wildcats easily solidified their No. 1 seed, they haven't lost since January, didn't lose before January, and are more than 20-point favorites Thursday in their NCAA East Regional first-round game against No. 16 seed Lafayette. So expect a free ride to the Final Four? Didn't all the pundits declare the East Regional to be the easy regional?
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March 20, 2015 | By Bob Ford, Inquirer Columnist
PITTSBURGH - Phil Booth Sr. went to nearly all of Villanova's games this season to watch his son play as a freshman for Jay Wright on one of the best college teams in the country. Wright caught a glimpse of the father here and there, but the two didn't have a conversation until after the NCAA tournament bracket was announced Sunday. "I grabbed him and said, 'Hey, you are the best parent in the world,' " Wright said. " 'Anybody else, with a kid as good a player as yours and only getting 16 minutes a game, would have been bitching and complaining all year.
SPORTS
March 20, 2015 | By Dick Jerardi, Daily News Columnist
PITTSBURGH - Ben Luber was home after a season playing professionally in Israel and started doing some personal training in Bucks County while searching for his next playing opportunity. His high school teammate and close friend, Adam Bowen, very involved in the local hoops scene, called to tell him a parent he knew wanted someone to look at his son and possibly train him. The boy had just finished seventh grade. "I think he could be one of the best guards in the country," Bowen told Luber.
SPORTS
March 19, 2015 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Not too long ago, Villanova coach Jay Wright heard his junior point guard, Ryan Arcidiacono, say that the Wildcats "do not fear failure" because they've already experienced it. But doesn't that mean that you are motivated to avoid failure because you remember how painful it felt the first time? "No," Wright said as his team continued to work toward Thursday's matchup with No. 16 Lafayette in their opening game of the NCAA East Regional. "If you're going to be successful and be a top seed and be a Big East champion and you do it back to back, that's what comes with it. You get a lot of enjoyment during the season, but if you lose you get a lot of pain.
SPORTS
March 19, 2015 | By Bob Brookover, Inquirer Columnist
The march and the madness are about to begin and Rollie Massimino plans to be by Villanova's side every step of the way. If the bracket he filled out is correct, the final step will be followed by a net-cutting celebration April 6 on the court at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. "I got them winning it all," Massimino said by telephone from his South Florida home Tuesday. He claims to be pretty good at filling out the brackets, too. Massimino, 80, said that in his younger days he was able to name 63 of the 65 teams before the selection committee announced them.
SPORTS
March 19, 2015 | By JOE JULIANO, Inquirer Staff Writer
In the middle of their euphoria over Villanova's Big East tournament championship, its first in 20 years, the Wildcats players felt their level of joy rise even higher Saturday night when they saw JayVaughn Pinkston climb the ladder to finish cutting down the nets at Madison Square Garden. Normally, that duty goes to the head coach, but Jay Wright wanted this to be Pinkston's moment. The fifth-year senior from Brooklyn endured his share of challenges at Villanova, a place where his career almost ended before it started but now is nearing its conclusion amid a shower of respect and admiration from teammates, coaches, and the university community.
SPORTS
March 19, 2015 | By John Smallwood, Daily News Columnist
SOMETIMES FAILURE can be a great teacher. It wasn't that Villanova was overwhelmed last year when it received a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But there is no doubt that there is a different kind of pressure that comes with being one of the tourney favorites. It's hard to say that the Wildcats succumbed to that pressure in 2014 - not when seventh-seeded Connecticut, the team that upset 'Nova in the second round, went on a miracle run to win the NCAA title. Still, sometimes you don't know what you don't know until you find out you don't know it. In the case of the NCAA Tournament, finding out that lesson usually means an early exit.
SPORTS
March 18, 2015 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
IN VILLANOVA'S original plan, 6-5 sophomore guard Josh Hart was penciled in as one of Jay Wright's first five. Which meant 6-2 redshirt junior guard Dylan Ennis was going to be his first sub. Then, things changed. As did roles. Maybe even perceptions. In the long run it was a move that benefitted everyone. And, most indeliby, the whole. "Dylan had struggled his sophomore year, and Josh had a great freshman year," said Wright, whose second-ranked Wildcats (32-2), having already set a program record for wins, are the top seed in the NCAA Tournament's East Regional, which for them begins Thursday night in Pittsburgh against Lafayette (22-10)
SPORTS
March 18, 2015 | BY DICK JERARDI, Daily News Staff Writer jerardd@phillynews.com
WHEN JAY WRIGHT called to tell him that the Villanova players would be wearing "JK" patches on their uniforms and dedicating the season to Jack Kraft, Fran O'Hanlon thought: "That's as classy a move as you can make, really cool. " Every summer, Wright brings a lot of the former players back to campus. Few are more beloved than O'Hanlon, Villanova class of 1970 who, on Feb. 24 of that year, dealt 16 assists against Toledo in a 107-82 win. His coach that day and every day at Villanova was Kraft, who died last year.
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