Jay Wright is a diplomat, and since if I address this topic – why there is such Villanova hate in the city – it will send me into an uncontrollable rage… which this morning almost led me to write a whole post encouraging a boycott of local sports talk radio this week after Harry Mayes and Rob Ellis started off their show talking about Harry’s continued trolling of Villanova fans and then spent more time on the problems that plague Temple from being great than discussing Nova’s Final Four run (!!!), before moving on to the fucking Eagles draft in less than a hour… we’ll just let Jay do it.
Audio 97.5 The Fanatic
MM: “You said a very interesting thing which we obviously talk about on sports talk radio: You’re not the most lovable team in Philly. Why do you think it is, and do you understand it?”
JW: “I do. We’re, you know, we’re out on the Main Line. Philly, you and I grew up in Lower Bucks County and it’s not even Northeast Philly.”
MM: “You grew up in lofty Lower Bucks County. That was loftier there than when I grew up.”
JW: “Anyway, it’s not Northeast Philly let’s put it that way. And Northeast Philly’s not North Philly. So, we’re out here on the Main Line, our students come from all over the country. Our kids come from all over the world. And we know what Philly is. We grew up loving all those Philly teams because they were Philly guys, came from Philly and go to school there. And you look out on the Main Line and that’s everything we’re not about in Philly. So we get it. But we love being a part of it. We are a part of it in the way with the Big Five that we love and we respect. And we do respect Philadelphia basketball. And all these guys wherever they come from, they wind up staying around here. And that’s a part of it, and obviously I’m from this area so I take a great pride in it. So I get it. You know, I was one of those guys. I loved St. Joe’s, Temple, La Salle, my parents didn’t go to any of those schools, so I liked all those schools. So I know why people like all the other schools.”
MM: “That’s good you have that perspective. I look at it like this is a sports team that should be separate than your feelings for a particular University. You know?”
JW: “I get that it’s hard to do though, because – and it’s one of the things I always say about the Big Five – every time we start a Big Five game and I walk out there, I’m kinda pinching myself because I grew up watching this, you know? My favorite coaches were Chuck Daly, Rollie Massimino, Jimmy Lynam, Paul Westhead, Don Casey. That’s the guys I looked up to. I didn’t look up to John Wooden or Adolf Rupp or any of those guys. If you grew up in Philly, that’s who you look up to. So when you start those games, I’m kinda pinching myself like I can’t believe I’m a part of this. But there’s another side of it, like damn this is competitive, I wanna beat these guys. I like these guys but I wanna beat ’em bad. It’s really weird, and you know how much they hate you. You know that too, and you get it. So it’s a really weird dynamic. When I try to explain that to people outside of Philly in basketball, they just don’t get it.”
He did that much better than I would’ve. But seriously, how can you not like that guy and his program? He gets it. He’s from here. His brother coaches at Council Rock, recently switching from North to South, which apparently became a thing. His wife and family are from here. He’s an Eagles fan. He’s a JIM LYNAM fan. If you hate Nova and what it stands for, that’s fine. But Wright’s teams display the exact qualities that would have Philly falling in love with them if they were any other team: hardworking, extreme hustle, generally an underdog against the top competition, successful, likable coach, and fun style.
Side note: Mike went on to say that he thought Nova played the perfect game against Kansas. Far from it. They played the perfect game against Miami. They played well against Kansas, obviously, especially defensively. But that was far from their perfect game. They shot 22% from three, got out-rebounded, took some bad shots, and had the yips at several points. That’s what makes me feel so great about the Final Four. Nova had their scare, against Kansas, and came out just fine. If they play their perfect game, like they did against Miami, they are going to have a parade (and I vote for it to be on Lancaster, not Broad).
Here’s the full interview. It’s great.