VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Less than 48 hours after their careers ended with a crushing loss to Wisconsin in Buffalo, Villanova's three seniors stood together for the last time on the practice court at the Davis Center on campus trying to make sense of it all.
Three early NCAA exits surrounding a national championship. More wins than anybody in the country since the start of the 2013-14 season but only one trip to the Sweet 16.
"It's difficult to accept, but that's the reality of it," Josh Hart said. "We gave it everything we could. We battled. We battled our whole careers here and gave everything we could to the program.
"We had some successful years so whenever we think about it, we'll think about those years and what we accomplished. ... We gave everything we could. A call here, a call there, a made shot here, a made shot there, but that's the luck of the draw. You've got to give Wisconsin all the credit. They're a tough, talented, very experienced team. We just ran into a good team."
It's a Villanova tradition that soon after the season ends, the players meet with the media.
Last year's interview was a continuation of the elation following the national championship.
This was different, following just two days after an excruciating loss, and Hart, Darryl Reynolds and Kris Jenkins -- Villanova's three seniors and the only players Villanova made available -- spontaneously decided to stand together and answer questions as a group.
It seemed like they just wanted one more moment together.
"The camaraderie, you can't put a price on that," Reynolds said, as Jenkins and Hart nodded in agreement. "A lot of people say this will be the last time you'll be with a group of guys who are this connected because after this point it is a complete business. More than anything, we're going to miss each other.
"We're not going to hang our heads. We had great careers here, we gave it everything we had and we walk away from it with no regrets. ...
"When you come up short, it's OK because you know you put everything you had into it."
Coach Jay Wright met with the full team Monday for the final time, and part of his message was that they have plenty to be proud of. Focus on the successes and not the failures.
"They hear the criticism from the outside, and we all understand that that comes with our position in college basketball right now and you have to accept that," Wright said.
"But we were very clear to them, that what they accomplished this season and in the regular season and the Big East Tournament and even the way they comported themselves in the NCAA Tournament, they should be proud. They should be really proud. They gave great effort, they never quit, they stuck together (and) that's all you can ask of an athlete.
"If someone were to back down in that game or someone would have got a little selfish in that game, then maybe you question something. But no one did. And no one did all season.
"It was really an incredible season, we just understand that on the outside in college basketball you get evaluated by how you advance in the NCAA Tournament. And it's OK. That's fair. But we want them to be proud of their effort this season."
In the end, this Villanova team seemed gassed. With Jenkins unable to find his shot, Mikal Bridges struggling late and Phil Booth and Omari Spellman unavailable, the Wildcats were really down to three scorers -- Hart, Jalen Brunson and reserve Donte DiVincenzo. It's a tough way to win.
Wright even spoke Monday of how last year ran right into this year and it seemed like the Wildcats never got a break.
"No complaints, I would do it all over again," he said. "But I think we could all use a break."
So they won 32 games and the Big East Tournament really with a seven-man rotation and just didn't have enough in the tank the last few minutes against a Wisconsin team that was ranked as high as No. 7 in the country a month ago, has been to two Final Fours in the last three years and goes 10 deep.
"We gave everything we could to this university and we're proud of that," Jenkins said. "We're proud of how we conducted ourselves as student-athletes representing this university.
"It didn't end the way we wanted, but we had great careers and we're proud of that."
These seniors have experienced highs and lows that most college basketball players never experience.
A year ago, they were in the middle of a historic run that ended with a trip to the White House.
Now they're back on campus, back in class, back to being regular college students.
"That's what the tournament is," Wright said. "You play for high stakes and you get great rewards when you win, so you can't avoid criticism when you lose. You've just got to take it, and no one's wrong in giving it to you.
"But you've got to look at yourself and say, 'Did we do everything we could do?' You know? And I really think the guys did and I want them to be proud of their efforts and their attitude and that's what we judge ourselves on."
Hart, Jenkins and Reynolds were a part of four teams that went a combined 129-17, the 10th-most wins ever by a Division I program in a four-year span.
Villanova's worst record with these guys in the lineup was 29-5.
They were ranked as high as No. 3 in the country all four years, won the Big East regular season four times, the Big East Tournament twice and the NCAA Tournament last year.
But then there are those three early exits. In 2014, 2015 and 2017, Villanova lost as a 1- or 2-seed to an opponent seeded seventh or lower.
"It's very tough but we gave this program everything we had since we got here and we're thankful for the opportunity we've had and the relationships that we've had here and now it's time to move on and hopefully we can do some more great things in the future," Jenkins said.
"I thought we battled and we gave it all we had. No one gave up, no one quit, we left it all out there for each other. We just fell a little short."