Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Top 50 coaches: No. 19 Jay Wright
By Eamonn Brennan
Editor's note: Over the next five weeks, we will reveal the top 50 coaches in college basketball as decided by our ESPN Forecast panel. Today we unveil No. 19: Villanova's Jay Wright. On Wednesday, we release No. 18.
On Monday, Thad Matta's spot at No. 20 came with another reminder of the guidelines voters were provided in this ranking system, and the importance of recent results in the ESPN Forecast panel's voting. In short, it was impossible to look at Matta's spot and not think he would have been much higher -- maybe even top 10 -- if not for Ohio State's subpar-for-him 2013-14 season.
Jay Wright is a similar case, but in the exact opposite way. For Wright, 2013-14 was all about redemption.
Last December, in the midst of Villanova's impressive 11-0 start, Wright sat down with ESPN's Dana O'Neil for what she called "a fascinating and introspective conversation, offering a rarely seen glimpse of the complications of success and the lessons of failure." Wright had seen both: After landing the Wildcats job as a hungry up-and-comer at Hofstra, Wright launched to textbook success at Villanova. By the fourth year of his rebuild, the Wildcats were in the Sweet Sixteen. A year later, they won a share of a loaded Big East and got to the Elite Eight. From there, Wright's work was steady: The Wildcats won in their league, they recruited good classes, they always went to the tournament. Rinse, repeat.