Nas wrote this lyric after the Kerry Kittles and Eric Eberz Wildcat team of 1994 won the National Invitation Tournament (not to mention the Big East title in 1995). Kittles led a team of resurgent Villanovans, establishing the team’s local and regional dominance after the difficult transition from Rollie Massimino to Steve Lappas. Those teams will always be my Wildcats first because they were on campus with me.
When sports radio asked who were the five greatest Wildcats of the last generation in basketball, I said Kerry Kittles, Randy Foye, Ed Pinckney, Doug West, and Malik Allen. My five respects the different eras of success under the three coaches who characterized excellence for Villanova University. It is a team that could complete against the ten greatest teams of all-time from any school in the country. More importantly, each man is a distinctive examplar of honor and integrity who shows that it is possible to balance athletics and academics with leadership to craft successful careers in whatever field they chose. They are role models in every sense of the word.
Jay Wright reflects the cumulative greatness of the Wildcat’s all-time best players. He has seized his rightful recognition as one of the top five coaches in American basketball today. His offensive and defensive designs defeated a fading program at Duke and one of the toughest teams this year in Pittsburgh. Wright balances discipline and creativity on offense, while channeling intensity into performance on defense. I applaud his achievement this past weekend and celebrate his standing as the best coach at Villanova yet, regardless of the outcome in Michigan next weekend.
As long as these 2009 Wildcats continue to play every possession on defense as a smothering unit dedicated to creating turnovers and securing rebounds, they will have the chance to create more magic moments like Dwayne Anderson’s three-point shot and Scott Reynolds’ driving layup. Jay Wright is a better coach than Roy Williams. Villanova is a better team than North Carolina. Many of us already know these facts. More have the chance to learn this weekend.
It ain’t hard to tell.