VILLANOVA, Pa. — No matter how hard they guard against it, the Villanova Wildcats always end up finding themselves talking about April. Talking about the magical shot from the hands of Kris Jenkins. Talking about finally getting over the second-round demons and winning a national championship.
They deal with it on campus, off campus and in the media.
It comes with the territory.
“Very few teams right now are talking about last year,” coach Jay Wright said.
Very few teams had the storybook ending Wright’s team had.
“Every time we talk to somebody, the first thing we talk about is last year,” Wright said. “We’ve talked about it as a team that’s something we’re going to have to deal with. The last couple years we’ve dealt with talking about losing in the second round, too. So we have a little bit of practice. But it is a great challenge and something we address every day.”
Villanova basketball held its annual media day Tuesday, and naturally, many of the conversations with Wright and his players started with the last six months and how their lives have changed.
Jenkins, whose three-pointer beat the buzzer to win the national title, was immediately surrounded by cameras and microphones.
How many times have you watched the shot?
“Recently, I haven’t really watched it,” Jenkins said.
“It’s already behind me. We’re focused and ready to go this year.”
Long gone are the days when Wright and Co. could go unnoticed in the Philadelphia area.
“It’s one of the great things about the Villanova job,” Wright said. “We get a lot of great media attention being in Philadelphia. It’s a great college basketball town. But you always can go wherever you want. ... For right now, it’s a little different. I have a feeling as the season wears on it will settle down. It’s worse for Kris Jenkins, I’ve seen that. ... Josh Hart, too.”
“Life changed a little bit,” Jenkins said. “But as far as basketball, coming to work, trying to get better, that part hasn’t changed.”
That sentiment, and the laser-like focus Jenkins and others talked about Tuesday, is the same day-to-day approach Wright’s teams have become synonymous with lately.
Leave it to a Wright-coached player to find a negative in the attention and diversions.
Hart, a senior like Jenkins, spoke Tuesday about the difficulties of preparing for this year with all the distractions. Surely it’s a problem 300-plus other basketball teams would love to deal with.
But Hart said a Villanova summer — like many others around the college basketball world — is about staying conditioned, working out as a team and getting used to the new faces on the roster. He described how he’d see a few good days of work get halted by going to the ESPYs. A few more good days of work were put on hold to go to the White House, where each champion shook hands and spoke with president Barack Obama.
“Don’t get me wrong, I would not change it for anything, but it’s been tough,” Hart said. “Every time we’re focused on this year, in some shape we’ll be brought back to the national championship.”
Just a hunch, Hart and the others don’t mind it all that much.