A week where Villanova barely had to break a sweat has Jay Wright and his Wildcats holding steady in the latest AP poll.
After making quick work of Nicholls St. on Tuesday and then Lafayette Friday evening in Allentown, the 'Cats are the No. 5 team in the land for the second straight week. They moved up from No. 6 last week after leapfrogging now-No.8 Kentucky.
There's an excellent chance things are going to get much trickier for the Wildcats this week as they head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which starts Wednesday vs. Western Kentucky. But a potential second-round matchup with No. 18 Purdue looms Thursday, as does a potential championship showdown of titanic proportions with No. 2 Arizona on Friday.
But the 'Cats aren't the only team with some AP poll notoriety this week.
Fran Dunphy's 3-0 Temple team received four votes this week after capturing the Charleston Classic crown. The Owls earned the honors with victories over Old Dominion, Auburn and Clemson.
The Owls next game is their first of the season in the Big 5 as they'll travel to Olney to face La Salle on Sunday. The Owls and Wildcats will meet in North Philly on Dec. 13.
Duke was again No. 1 in this week's poll. Arizona leaped to No. 2, Kansas held its ground at No. 3 and Michigan State slipped to No. 4 before Villanova rounded out the top 5.
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.