Not too long ago, Villanova coach Jay Wright heard his junior point guard, Ryan Arcidiacono, say that the Wildcats "do not fear failure" because they've already experienced it.

But doesn't that mean that you are motivated to avoid failure because you remember how painful it felt the first time?

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"No," Wright said as his team continued to work toward Thursday's matchup with No. 16 Lafayette in their opening game of the NCAA East Regional.

"If you're going to be successful and be a top seed and be a Big East champion and you do it back to back, that's what comes with it. You get a lot of enjoyment during the season, but if you lose you get a lot of pain. But we're not afraid of that pain, and we're much more focused on the exhilaration of the competition and the opportunity ahead of us."

Actually, the Wildcats have experienced moments of pain only twice this season - an overtime loss at Seton Hall on Jan. 3, and a Jan. 19 thrashing at Georgetown. They have won 15 straight games since that night in D.C.

"It's a really good place to be in our mind-set," Wright said. "There is no fear. We're just really looking at what could we do and how we do it. I think we've learned the process - it's one game at a time and we talk about it all the time.

"It was successful for us in the Big East tournament and I think everybody believes in that process for the NCAA tournament."

Wright a finalist

Wright was named one of four finalists for the Naismith men's college coach of the year award presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Wright, who already has been named coach of the year in the Big East, joins John Calipari of Kentucky, Tony Bennett of Virginia, and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, a former Chester High School star.

The winner will be announced April 5 during Final Four weekend.

Spirited send-off

Villanova received a cheering send-off Tuesday from several dozen fans outside the Davis Center as the team headed to the airport and on to Pittsburgh.

Wright said he likes his players to enjoy all the hoopla surrounding their trip to the NCAAs as a No. 1 seed but knows they're ready to focus on basketball when the time comes.

"We like both parts of it," he said before boarding the bus. "We like this and then we like that time when we get by ourselves, we eat, we watch film, we practice. So I think we've learned to enjoy both sides of it as long as one doesn't mix in to the other.

"This is all part of it. You go through this, you enjoy this. And then you get to your site and then you get down to business. I think our guys have learned how to compartmentalize this, and I want to make sure they enjoy this part of it."

Wright got an idea of fan expectations when he said he heard a man wearing a 1985 Villanova national championship T-shirt yell out to him: "This shirt is old. I need a new shirt."