Villanova Radio Analyst: Wildcats Had No Fear; Jay Wright Has Created Incredible Culture

People were surprised by Villanova's early deficit against Michigan, Whitey Rigsby said, "but they play 40 minutes for a reason"

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 03, 2018 - 9:22 am

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In the opening minutes of the first half Monday night, it appeard Villanova would be in a dog fight. Michigan led 21-14, and the Wildcats looked out of sync offensively.

That didn’t last very long.

Villanova closed the half on a 23-7 run, led 37-28 at the break and pulled away for a 79-62 win to give Jay Wright his second title in three years.

“Villanova is a very mature group, extremely well-coached on the court and off the court, and I don’t think was ever – ever – a sense of fear in these guys,” former Wildcats guard and current Villanova radio analyst Whitey Rigsby said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They were down 21-14, and people in the stands were surprised by that. But they play 40 minutes for a reason, and this team has been the best team in the country most of the year playing 40-minute games."

Mo Wagner, who had 24 points and 15 rebounds against Loyola, was limited to 16 points and seven rebounds against Villanova.

"Jay Wright was never going to double down on Mo Wagner," Rigsby said. "They were going to let him play against (Omari) Spellman straight up. And Wagner, who took over the first five, six minutes of the game, almost became a non-factor for the last 35 minutes. It kind of become the Donte DiVincenzo show for a big stretch of the game.”

DiVincenzo scored a game-high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor, becoming just the fifth player in NCAA history – and the first since 1978 – to score 30+ points in the national championship while shooting at least 66 percent from the field.

As for Villanova, the 2018 NCAA Tournament was domination from start to finish. The Wildcats won all six tournament games at least 12 points and became the first team since UCLA in 1968 to win both Final Four games by at least 16. They also set a tournament record with 76 three-pointers made.

How did Nova do it?

“It starts at the top,” Rigsby said. “People give Jalen Brunson a lot of credit, and he really deserves it. He’s a great kid, a great leader, but it starts with Jay Wright. He’s such a tremendous leader of his team. He’s a good X-and-O guy as far as a coach, but what he does more than anything, he’s created tremendous culture around this basketball program.”

Need proof? Ed Pinckney, Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono, Kris Jenkins, and Kyle Lowry, among other former Nova greats, were in attendance Monday in San Antonio.

“All of these guys flew in from all over the place to be here, and it’s all because of the culture and the open arms that Jay has created,” Rigsby said. “These players, when they go to the gym and they practice now, they realize they’re playing for something greater than just them. It’s not just about me scoring 10 points tonight; it’s about the fact that I’m here representing all these great players that have been here before me, and they really just take tremendous pride in that. I think it really showed on the court over these past few weeks.”