Jay Wright could be asked about a goal for Villanova in this postseason, such as capturing a No. 1 NCAA seed or a regional final or the national championship game and his answer would be the same: "Next game," which is where he wants the focus of his team to be.
Next game is in the Big East tournament for the fourth-ranked Wildcats. But their coach conceded Monday that it would be nice to walk out of Madison Square Garden Saturday night with the championship trophy and give Villanova just its second tournament title in league history.
"I'd never make it a goal but it would be a thrill," Wright said after practice. "We've never been a part of it here as an assistant or as a head coach. We love that tournament as much as the NCAA tournament. So it would definitely be a thrill. But it's not going to break my heart if we don't win because we'll go on to the next game."
That would be in the NCAA tournament, and what Wright left unsaid was that winning the Big East tournament would lock in a No. 1 seed. If not, 'Nova's fate would depend on what Virginia and Duke did in the ACC tournament knowing at least one team would have to lose, and what's happening with contenders Wisconsin and Arizona.
In the latest Associated Press poll, Virginia and Duke swapped places, with the Cavaliers dropping to No. 3 and the Blue Devils up a notch to No. 2, and Villanova holding as No. 4.
The Wildcats (29-2, 16-2), the conference's regular-season champion, open their tournament schedule Thursday afternoon in a quarterfinal matchup against the winner of Wednesday night's game between No. 8 seed Seton Hall and No. 9 Marquette.
A win by the Pirates would set up a similar scenario to last year, where the Wildcats were rested but Seton Hall was fired up and posted a 64-63 upset on Sterling Gibbs' jumper at the buzzer. The game proved to be a lesson learned for Wright, his staff and his players.
"Seton Hall had a lot of energy," he said. "They were in the tournament and ready to play and we were just starting and they jumped on us. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen."
Hart honored. Swingman Josh Hart, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, became the second Villanova player to be honored by the Big East when he won the sixth man of the year award.
"It's worked out where he's the perfect sixth man," Wright said. "He can play any position except possibly point guard. He's tough where you can play him at the 5 [center]. He brings energy immediately no matter what spot he plays."
Hart admitted that while "starting is nice," he appreciates that he's usually on the floor late in close games.
"The biggest thing you can have from your coaches is trust," he said. "I know that he has the trust in me to finish games when it's a one-possession game or if we're down. That gives me confidence."
Player of the year and coach of the year will be announced Wednesday with Darrun Hilliard and Wright in contention.