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Villanova basketball team receives warm sendoff as it heads to NCAAs

Several dozen students, fans and staff turned out in beautiful springlike weather to wish the Villanova basketball team well as it left campus headed to the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh.

Villanova received a cheering sendoff from several dozen students, fans and staff Tuesday outside the Davis Center as they the team headed to the airport and on to Pittsburgh to continue preparations for Thursday's NCAA East Regional game against Lafayette.

Coach Jay 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 said the sendoff from students and fans "is a big deal" for the players and "I want them to enjoy that."

"I take great pride that we can share with this everybody at Villanova because we get to do a lot of fun things during the year," he said. "We've played in a lot of big games. But this is something we get to share with everybody and I'm proud that we're able to do this. It never gets old."

As for fan expectations, Wright recounted the story of a man wearing a 1985 Villanova national championship T-shirt who yelled out to him: "This shirt is old. I need a new shirt."

"We're sticking to the process," he said. "I think (the players) all know that. I think they would be disappointed if they didn't get to the Final Four but they know it's possible they might not and you've got to deal with it. The only thing they can do is stick to the process – one game at a time – and they've done a good job of that all year."

--Joe Juliano