Jay Wright can’t win in March.
There, I got that out of the way.
Villanova is not an elite program.
That one, too.
Bill Self is a better coach than Jay Wright.
And that one.
Villanova won ugly. Uglier than Bill Self’s toupee, which doesn’t even begin to approach the first fold on his fatty neck. They beat Kansas despite a wretched shooting performance. This is what I wrote on Friday, because, again, I don’t know why you’d read any other site, especially this week:
I’m now convinced that they can beat Kansas even with a poor shooting performance. It would make things difficult, but I think they can do it. They’re that balanced, that good on D, and that tenacious on the boards. Never thought I’d say that.
This is truly remarkable. They shot 4-18 from three, 22%, and beat Kansas. They shot 40% overall, and beat Kansas. They even got out-rebounded and out-assisted, and beat Kansas. This is stupid. That shouldn’t even happen. But it did. It happened because Villanova plays absurd defense, the likes of which Kansas hadn’t seen this year. Bill Self didn’t have an answer for it – just like he doesn’t have hair – because he was out-coached by Jay Wright. Perry Ellis, Kansas’ best player who was thrilled when Truman brought the boys home from overseas, was held to four points. His first field goal didn’t come until almost mid-way through the second half. He managed only five shots from the field. He made one of them.
That’s how you beat Kansas despite a poor shooting performance.
You also make free throws.
Villanova made 18 of 19, just like they did against Miami. It didn’t matter much for latter, but they needed every one of them against Kansas.
They won ugly.
Here’s how they described it after the game:
Q. For Ryan, but also would like to ask you guys to weigh in, you’ve been using the word “ugly” over and over again. When did it get sufficiently ugly to where you knew, okay, this is beautiful? This is how we want it?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: It was beautiful once the final buzzer went off and we were winning. But we wanted to make it ugly. We knew we weren’t shooting the ball well. But the backbone of our program is just defend and rebound and play hard and together. I think we did that.
We started off a little slow, but I would say the last 35 or so minutes of the game is where we really turned it up and made it an ugly street fight.
DANIEL OCHEFU: We came into this game knowing that we’re both teams that were on great offensive runs and for us in our program, we don’t depend on our offense. We like proving we can win off the defensive rebounding. Making the game ugly and a street fight was to our advantage because that’s what we preach every day in practice.
JOSH HART: Continuing what these two guys said, the toughest situation for us is not making shots. That’s what — we thrive with that. We know we’re going to let offense take care of itself. If we buckle down on defense, we make it ugly, we’re diving on the floor, taking charges, doing the little things this program is built on that we knew we were going to be in the game.
It was just all-around team effort from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. It was ugly, but it was beautiful to us.
It was ugly, but it was beautiful to us. Upon hearing that, Jay Wright be like:
For as much as Villanova is credited with being a guard-heavy, shooting program – which they are – the hallmark of Jay’s teams, especially his good ones, is that they defend, vociferously, and play with an intensity that often catches opponents completely off-guard. It happened to UCLA and Duke in 2009, and it happened to Iowa, Miami and Kansas this year. I think Self tried to prepare his team for it after watching game tape of the previous two tilts, but there’s only so much you can show in the film room. Kansas simply couldn’t handle it on the court.
Oklahoma, on the other hand, has seen Villanova this year (they beat them by 23). They know what’s coming. Nova is much better right now, and actually the favorite, but Oklahoma scares me. For my money, they’re the best team left in the tournament. Villanova already used its one off-shooting night to beat Kansas. Now they have two games left to shoot ’em up. Do that, and they’ll be national champions.*
*I teared up writing that sentence.