For the second time in 4 years, Villanova's Jay Wright is the Big East's Coach of the Year.
"It's such an honor, because all of us came up watching Louie Carnesecca and Rollie Massimino and John Thompson and Jim Boeheim," said Wright, whose Wildcats (25-6), coming off a double bye, will play either Marquette (23-8) or St. John's (16-16) in tomorrow afternoon's Big East quarterfinals. "And we all went to clinics [being conducted by] Rick Pitino and Jim Calhoun. And now, we're all coaching in a league with those guys. We all learned by watching them. It's something, just to be a part of that. To have them recognize you like this is very, very humbling."
Picked to finish fifth in the conference, they're ranked 10th in the nation. The three Big East teams ahead of them in the standings are all in the top five in the polls. Two are coached by Pitino and Calhoun, a Hall of Famer. Both have won national titles.
"I'm proud for our staff, I really am," Wright said. "I don't know how much people realize how much the assistants do to really get the team prepared to play . . .
"Our team surpassed the expectations. That's our senior class. They just took control of this team, and just took it to a level that a lot of people didn't expect. But they've fulfilled our expectations, which is almost impossible, because we put such high expectations on them." *