Aug. 10, 2005
When you look at the Big East, teams like Connecticut and Syracuse jump out at you. Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim are Hall of Famers now, and their teams should be contenders in the conference. Louisville comes in from Conference USA, and Rick Pitino's squad will be tough.
My friends, keep an eye on Villanova. That's right, on the Main Line in the City of Brotherly Love, baby! Coach Jay Wright is going to see his stock rise further. He'll be a big name in the college coaching landscape. He is currently running the U.S. team at the World University Games.
Wright got some recognition when he did a phenomenal job at Hofstra, and that's why there was so much optimism when he arrived at Villanova to replace Steve Lappas. Then there were some problems, including allegations of violations (that turned out to be minor at worst), plus injuries to center Jason Fraser.
The Wildcats built up the program with a class that includes Randy Foye, Allan Ray and Curtis Sumpter. Villanova made some noise last year, coming on strong. In the NCAA Tournament, Wright's team lost to eventual champion North Carolina in a real nail-biter. There was a controversial traveling call in the final minute that some said cost the Wildcats the game.
The threesome of Foye, Ray and Sumpter is one of the premier trios in America. They make sweet music, and I'm not talking about Peter, Paul and Mary, baby! They will excite the fans of Philly this season, perhaps even more than the duo of Allen Iverson and Chris Webber. The Cat House should be rocking and rolling.
Wright will make big noise. He is a classy guy, and he'll be a big-time success story this season. I believe this is the start of a big, big year for Wright. If Fraser can stay healthy, Villanova should be a contender for a Final Four berth.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.