Jay Wright is a goddamned diplomat. This you know. Today he was on the 97.5 Morning Show in advance of being honored by Philly City Council at City Hall. He spent more than an hour in-studio recounting the National Championship run. The whole thing is worth a listen as a podcast when you get a chance – Wright and Anthony Gargano just shooting the shit like two guys at a bar is AWESOME – but there were a few standout moments.
Ochefu mopping the floor
One of the few unheralded stories – along with the last sequence of the first half that led to a four-point swing – was Daniel Ochefu quirkily mopping the floor before the final play of the game. At the time it seemed like a happy-go-lucky guy doing a happy-go-lucky guy thing, but Ochefu explained after the game that he knew he had to set a pick for Ryan Arcidiacono near that spot and didn’t want his teammate to slip. The anecdote was kind of lost in all the hysteria following the win. Wright went more in-depth and explained how even he didn’t know what the hell Ochefu was doing:
“We’re waiting there to set the play up and Daniel Ochefu takes the mop from the kid when he’s wiping the floor, and I gotta tell you honestly I’m thinking to myself “Really, Daniel? Are you kidding? Right now you gotta be Mr. Wonderful and clean this up?” And I never thought about what he was really doing until I heard him say at the press conference after the game. But we had a very similar situation at the end of the season, at the end of the Seton Hall game at the Big East tournament where we run a similar play off the foul line on a miss, with three seconds left. And against Seton Hall in the Big East tournament they missed the free throw and we ran the same play and right at that exact same spot Ryan Arcidiacono slipped, and he got off a shot but he slipped and he got off the shot. That was the exact same spot [in front of the benches, where it’s sometimes wet from water bottles] … Daniel was looking at that spot and saying that’s where I’m setting the screen for Ryan, he’s not slipping this time.”
In fact, here is Archie slipping (in front of the bench) on the final play of the Big East Championship:
Fast-forward a few weeks, and Villanova found itself in a similar situation. This time, no slip, a scoop to Jenkins, for the championship, bang.
The play itself
We’ve all heard that Kris Jenkins was the last option. We saw ESPN reenact the play. Today, Jay explained just how unlikely it was that Jenkins took the shot:
“We have a play from 0 to 4 seconds and a play from 4 to 7 seconds. The last possible shot that you can get at 7 seconds is the trailer getting into the play. We have never gotten that shot in a game before. There’s an option of Ryan, Booth, and Josh Hart … that’s (Jenkins) the last option. Never in a game did we get that option … We set the play up and we know all the options of how we’d being guarded … Kris Jenkins saw that they put no one on the ball, said to Ryan they’re not guarding me, I’m gonna be open. He still had to sprint to get ahead of Ryan in 4.7 seconds, which is not easy to do. Especially for Kris, he’s a little bit bulky. For those guys to set that up … that was all them, and that’s all basketball IQ on their part. Really impressive in terms of two really intelligent basketball players.
Remember, Booth has 20 points. If you’re Carolina … Booth and Hart were in screening action on the other side. Carolina had to guard that. If they would have gave up a shot to Booth with 20 points that would have killed them.”
Jay on the rumors:
“[Having NBA offers and attention] is uncomfortable, but it’s not anything you expect anyone to feel sorry for you about. It’s a nice position to be in but it’s uncomfortable. The good thing about the NBA situation is … MCW and I were just talking, years ago her working for CBS and we know all the same people … the basketball world is small. So all these NBA situations, you know all the guys. You know all the GMs, you know the Presidents, so it’s a quick call. “Hey, what do you think would you be interested?” And you just say “Nah, I wanna stay at Villanova.” There’s no dealings with agents or anything, we know all these guys. So that hasn’t been a problem. It’s more in the media that every time that comes out we gotta call our recruits and be like “nah nah nah” … What’s become difficult is we’re from Philly and we’ve been here for 15 years and there’s a lot of charities we work with and people we’ve worked with for a long time, and they have ideas of things they can do to help their charity and you wanna do it, but there’s just so many but you still gotta do your job … You don’t ever wanna get away from doing your job because of all these new opportunities coming to you, but nothing to complain about.”
I certainly won’t fuel the fire here, but he never fully says he’d never go to the NBA. He always leaves the door open, just slightly. Still, I wouldn’t expect him to go anywhere soon.
The President’s Chief of Staff
Jay refused to say which big-time celebrities he heard from (we knew he talked to the President), but he did mention a few coaches – Jim Calhoun, Andy Reid – and dropped that Villanova will visit the White House on May 31. When pressed, he recounted a text exchange he had with President Obama’s Chief of Staff:
“We’re going down on May 31st to meet the President at the White House with the team. And Denis McDonough, who is the Chief of Staff, you know we went there last year with Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim, myself for USA Basketball. We met the President, we were with General Dempsey who is the commander of all the armed forces, we did a leadership thing with him. And Denis took us around, he’s the Chief of Staff. So we got this little thing we gotta do with the President, so I texted him last night. He’s the Chief of Staff and he returned the text in like 30 seconds. That’s one of the ones where I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” And I said to him, “I’m gonna use this in my corporate speeches. The efficiency of the White House. You text the Chief of Staff and he gets back to you in 30 seconds.” So that kinda stuff is mind blowing, it won’t last forever, we’ll come back to Earth soon, and I’m looking forward to that.”
This is a must-listen interview. You can listen to it here.
A 97.5 publicist reached out to me on Tuesday and asked if we could get them a Bang shirt to present to Jay on the show this morning. I contacted our warehouse, which is in Ohio, and asked them to overnight five shirts to 97.5 so they’d have them for this morning. They sent them ground. F-ing incompetence. You can get one here— just don’t try overnighting it.