I’m getting shatted upon on Twitter for an off-hand comment I made about Jay Wright being a better coach than Bill Self.
It’s an opinion, sure, and probably a biased one, but it’s not even remotely ridiculous. POINTS:
I don’t think so. You could argue that Self is the better recruiter. He’s the one who lands 5-star recruits every year. Jay gets some – way more than he should – and manages to turn 3- and 4-star players into a team that is now perennially in the top 10. Here’s what Jay’s recent recruiting classes looked like compared to Self’s, never mind the fact that Kansas, a historically top 5 program, sells itSELF to high school kids [courtesy Rivals]:
Jalen Brunson is the lone five-star real stud recruit on the team right now (they have a five-star center from Connecticut coming next year). Meanwhile, this is what Kansas’ recruiting classes look like:
That talent discrepancy is off the charts. The fact that Nova finds itself in the top 10 almost every year now and has earned two 2 seeds and a 1 seed over the past four seasons, given that they’re a small Catholic school without a legitimate basketball facility playing in a non-football conference, is a damn-near fable. But still, it’s Self who’s recruiting the studs. Jay’s turned very good players into a great team.
Except it’s not. It’s only laughable because people think I’m comparing Villanova to Kansas, which I’m not. Kansas is a bigger, better program. But just because Self inherited it – he earned it with success at Illinois and Tulsa – doesn’t automatically make him a better coach. Jay has been linked to multiple big college jobs, and NBA jobs, and has rebuffed that interest time and again. There’s no doubt that he could’ve laddered up to a power conference after his 2005-2009 run. He chose to be Mark Few, Jim Calhoun and Coach K and try to grow his own program.
If Jay was coaching Kentucky – or Texas, or the Sixers – no one would think it’s so laughable to compare him to Self.
Boy, if only Jay Wright hadn’t inherited that national powerhouse Steve Lappas left on the Main Line. Brooks Sales was a true gift.
Jay Wright took Hofstra to the tournament twice and built a Villanova team from a middling Big East competitor to a perennial top 10 team. He made an Elite 8 in 2006, as a 1 seed, without the team’s then-best player, Curtis Sumpter, and utilizing a four-guard system where Kyle Lowry was sort of an afterthought as a scoring option. Will Sheridan was the team’s focal big man. They lost to a mini Florida dynasty with Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer.
How’s that going?
Yes, I know that last one is not yet done.
What’s more underachieving: Jay Wright losing in the second round two seasons in a row…. or Bill Self losing in the second round two seasons in a row? That’s really what we’re talking about here. Jay was never labeled as an underachiever until last year.
Maybe he is. But all you can really go by is what they’ve done with what they have. Jay has less, and Villanova has less to sell to high school players, and yet competes at a level just a tick below Kansas. You can argue that the weave Jay has spun with four guards, and with a host of 3- and 4-star players on the current team, is way more impressive than what Self has done at Kansas. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have this discussion.
That is a RIDICULOUS statement.
I can slice this apple, too. Jay made two Elite 8s – including a Final Four – with two entirely different teams, in four seasons.
Look, there’s an argument to be made here, and that’s my point. It’s not laughable to say Jay is a better coach than Self. It’s an opinon, but a reasonable one. Self just happens to coach Kansas, and Jay is making sweet, spiked lemonade with the lemons (albeit fresh and organic) he’s been given at Villanova. And again, I feel more comfortable with Jay out-coaching Self than Larranaga.