B.J. Johnson and Amar Stukes combined to score 48 points and Saul Phiri grabbed 12 rebounds to carry LaSalle past Massachusetts, 87-72 in an Atlantic 10 showdown on Wednesday night.
LaSalle ran off to a 20-point lead by intermission, 47-27, and cruised home.
The Explorers (9-12, 3-5) shot a brisk 55 percent from the field in the game, knocking down 33 of 60 shots, including 7 of 20 from long range.
Johnson was 9 of 17 from the floor and totaled 26 points while Stukes hit 8 of 9 from the field to add 22 points. Tony Washington and Isiah Deas each added 12 points while Phiri scored 10 points.
Luwane Popkins hit 6 of 10 from long range and finished with 25 points to lead UMass (10-11, 3-5). Malik Hines and Carl Pierre each added 11 points for the Minutemen.
Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name.
And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job.
Just don’t expect Wright to be interested.
The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there.
“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”
In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely.
The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13.
The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright.
Villanova is losing its second star player in two days.
Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career.
This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.
“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”
Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.