PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In time, the Villanova seniors will get a chance to look back at a remarkable four-year run. That time hasn’t arrived just yet.
The Wildcats are still recovering from their loss to Wisconsin on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament. It was a sudden ending to another impressive season, but one which the Cats were hoping would last long beyond Saturday. Even after winning the national championship last season, Coach Jay Wright admitted the sting from Saturday’s defeat still lingers.
“It’s still hard,” said Wright. “It just hurts. It’s part of being a competitor. You get the highest highs and the lowest lows. In terms of when you’re with your players, it still stings. It probably will until the tournament is over.”
Wright admitted he did not watch any games on Sunday after his team was eliminated. His focus over the past few days has been on getting his players to realize all they have accomplished this season despite the loss on Saturday. For the seniors, it is a chance to look back at four remarkable years at Villanova. Josh Hart has been trying to put the finality of the season in its proper perspective.
“We battled our whole careers here,” Hart said. “We gave everything we could to this program. We’ve had some successful years, so whenever we think about it, we think about those years. That really helps us out a lot. Obviously, it’s difficult to accept it, but I think we’re getting there.”
Getting there won’t be easy for Villanova. Many expected the Wildcats to make a run at a second straight national title. Villanova finished 32-4 and captured the Big East title, but Wright understands much of the outside world judges teams on their performance in the NCAA Tournament.
“They hear the criticism on the outside,” said Wright. “We all understand that comes with our position in college basketball right now. We have to accept that, but we were very clear with them with what they accomplished this season in the regular season and the Big East Tournament. They should be proud.”
Wright said he is already looking ahead to next season. He will spend time in the off-season tinkering with his potential 2017-18 lineup and will likely also deal with the annual rumors about job offers from elsewhere. While Wright is always flattered by rumors of offers from the likes of the NBA, he is more than happy to remain on the Main Line.
“I’d like it better if it wouldn’t happen because I know I don’t want to go,” Wright said. “I love it here. I’m very happy here and I plan to be staying at Villanova.”