PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — San Antonio appears to have a lot to offer for Final Four visitors this weekend, but the Villanova Wildcats will hardly be spending time remembering the Alamo.
Jay Wright’s squad is making its second Final Four appearance in three years. The Wildcats will take on Kansas in Saturday’s semifinal matchup in a battle between the last two remaining #1 seeds in the tournament. Many of the current Villanova players got a taste of the Final Four two years ago, and junior Jalen Brunson understands the need to block out distractions with a chance at another national title at stake.
“I’ve tried to make sure everyone is really focused on playing our next game,” said Brunson. “There’s going to be a lot of outside distractions. It’s a great experience. It’s awesome to go down there with your team. But most importantly, we’re down there to play basketball and that’s what we have to focus on.”
A Final Four appearance can be dizzying for both players and coaches. While the goal is to keep the focus on the court, there are other responsibilities throughout the week. There will be plenty of business for Wright and his players to attend to off the court before they tip-off against the Jayhawks Saturday night.
“Almost equally important is the responsibility the guys have for the media and the NCAA,” Wright said. “There’s a lot. There really is. Even the day before the game with the open practice, you’ve got to practice somewhere else first. You get in there and do media then do an open practice in front of 40,000 or 50,000 people. Everyone does it but no one is complaining about it because we are happy to be there.”
Despite a spectacular season so far for Villanova, questions remained heading into the month of March. Three losses at the end of the regular season has some wondering if the Wildcats would be able to make another run to the Final Four. However, everything began to fall into place at the Big East Tournament and now Villanova is two games away from another national championship. Even with a talented Kansas team standing int he way, Wright knows he will get the best out of his players in San Antonio.
“I’m confident that we’re going to play hard and play together,” said Wright. “That’s the only thing I ever worry about. Sometimes I worry if a team is mature enough to handle all the distractions and still play hard and play together and play humble and hungry. I’m sure about that with this team.”
No matter what the result, the Wildcats insist they will keep their focus as they get closer to game time. Junior Makal Bridges says Saturday will not be the time to be nostalgic about the 2017-18 season.
“We enjoy the moment and we’ll appreciate that we’re there,” Booth said. “We’re not there to be happy and just reflect on the season. We want to keep getting better and get through another two-game tournament.”