With Jay Wright retired, the Big East mi Central Connecticut State Blue Devils shirtght need a new source of power to keep the bright lights on
Their teams played a combined 80 minutes worth of college basketball this past w Clayton State Lakers clothes inter, the coach of the Big East regular season champion and the coach of the Big E College Cold Weather Gear ast Tournament champion, and their teams were separated by just seven points at the end of all that. Unfortunately for Providence and Ed Cooley, it was Villanova and Jay Cal State Stanislaus Warriors Jerseys Wright who wound up on the winning side in each of those confrontations.
After losing two such excruciating battles, after fighting along with every other Big East coach to surpass what Wright had built with the Wildcats since the “new Big East” became a thing back in the 2013-14 season, it would be understood if Cooley were throwing a small celebration late Wednesday night after word of Wright’s immediate retirement broke. That’s not what happened.
“Jay the coach is amazing,” Cooley told Sporting News. “Jay the person – you can’t find a better person. I just think he’s one of the more genuine ambassadors for college basketball, and the more you know him, the more you appreciate him.
“When we lost Pitt, when we lost Connecticut, when we lost all those football schools … he helped propel us today to where we are as a conference. Let’s face it, he was the top dog.”
DECOURCY: Wright decides its the right time to step away
It is Cooley's job, along with the other 10 coaches in the league – perhaps most of all new Villanova boss Kyle Neptune – to assure the League that Jay Built College Halloween Costumes remains one of the most successful in Division I basketball.
Wright’s retirement comes at a NCAA Spirit shirt time when the Big East just had added two coaches, Sean Miller at Xavier and Thad Matta at Butler, with a combined 861 victories and eight Elite Eight appearances. The league also brought in red-hot Shaheen Holloway from Saint Peter’s, the first coach in 37 years of the expanded bracket NCAA Tournament to lead a No. 15 seed to the Elite Eight. It looked FAU Owls clothes like an opportunity for the Big East to take a step forward even from its present, advanced position.
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And it’s doing so with a remarkable element of diversity: With the hiring of Neptune, the Big East now has Black coaches at seven of its 11 members. “I am so proud to say that,” Cooley said.
In 2011, the Big East had just placed a record 11 teams in the NCAA Tournament field and claimed the NCAA championship with Connecticut winning the trophy. Three months later, it was revealed Pitt and Syracuse were leaving for bigger football payouts in the ACC; defections by West Virginia and Louisville followed, and it became apparent the league could no longer maintain its hybrid format.
VIllanova took the greatest advantage of the stage provided by the basketball-first Big East, with its Fox Sports contract providing extensive coverage and national exposure. Over the past half-dozen years, the Big East ranked among the top four conferences – in either the NCAA’s NET rankings o Alabama vs. Auburn Rivalry Jerseys r its former standard, the RPI – in all but one season and never won fewer than 73 percent of its non-conference games.
In the NCAA Tournament, however, the majority of league success was authored by Villanova. The Wildcats account for more than half of Big East wins over the past five tournaments. This is somewhat understandable given their two Final Fours and one NCAA championship in that stretch, but no other Big East member has more than four tournament wins since 2017.
Villanova’s current powerhouse was built by Wright to exact specifications. Neptune was instrumental to that construction, but there is the risk of decline when a superstar coach departs. It happened gradually at North Carolina following Dean Smith’s retirement, and at Indiana after Bob Knight was dismissed. Other Big East programs could take advantage of such a slip, but would thei Alcorn State Braves clothes r achievements carry the same weight without Villanova as a measure?
“From the competitive standpoint, we’ll see. He doesn’t have the experience that Jay’s had at Villanova with respect to being the top coach, and probably the best coach in college basketball,” Cooley said of Neptune. “I’m excited for Kyle. I hope they’re horrendous when they play Providence College – I’m trying to win, too. But I think Kyle will keep it right where it’s at; that brand is built just like Duke, like Kentucky, like Kansas. That is where Jay has put Villanova for time to come.”
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This is Miller’s second stint at Xavier. When he left in 2009, the Musketeers still were members of the Atlantic 10 Conference. So he only got the opportunity to coach against Wright once, an XU win in November 2006 at the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands. But their competition traced all the way back to when Wright was a Villanova assistant under Rollie Massimino and Miller was a four-year starter at point guard for the Pitt Panthers.
Miller said he watched as much Big East basketball as any conference during the 2021-22 season, when he was out of coaching and working as an analyst for the Field of 68 podcast network. He was impressed by the energized homecourt atmospheres as so many league members, from Creighton in the Midwest to Providence in the East. (And, of course, Xavier in between).
“I really believe this: It’s the envy of a lot of other conferences right now,” Miller told The Sporting News, while acknowledging the loss of Wright as an active competitor has an impact.
“In some ways, it’s disappointing, because he became an iconic figure. And when an iconic figure coaches in your conference, I think that everybody looks upon it differently, with a lot of respect,” Miller said. “And not that that respect goes away; I’m sure Villanova will try as hard as they can to continue operating as they have.
“Trust me, I wasn’t looking forward to coaching against him. That’s a tough task. But he sets the bar, all that he’s accomplished, really sets the bar for everybody else. Not to have that, in some ways is disappointing. But I think the Big East is incredibly healthy, and I’m sure the group that now takes over the reigns at Villanova will do a great job.”