The class is in session at Villanova. Official training doesn’t start until next month for the Villanova Wildcats, so Jay Wright has had time to catch his breath since winning gold with Team USA Basketball at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Bring home the gold
One of Wright’s many offseason highlights was his time in Tokyo as Gregg Popovich’s assistant on the Team USA basketball team.
After losing to France in their first game in Tokyo, the United States returned to beat the French when it mattered most. The United States team won the rematch, 87-82, in the men’s basketball final to win their fourth straight gold medal.
“Knowing that you did it for your country and experiencing what this team went through has truly been one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in sport and basketball,” said Wright. “It was incredibly rewarding and an exhilarating feeling when we finally won the gold. “
It was Wright’s first trip to the Olympics as a member of Team USA’s coaching staff.
“The players get the gold medals, the coaches don’t get the gold medals,” Wright said with a smile.
He noted that his will would come later. USA Basketball makes and sends a copy of the same gold medal to all coaches to keep.
While there, he kept an eye out for Chris Arcidiacono, Eric Dixon, Brandon Slater and Trey Patterson, who competed and also represented the stars and stripes in the 2021 FIBA 3×3 U-23 tournament. in France.
He kept his distance, but even with the time difference between France and Tokyo, he still managed to catch up with almost every game.
“We were in quarantine so it broke the days, it was good for me. I might have missed a single game, but I was really proud of the way they competed, ”said Wright. “They played really hard and hard. They didn’t shoot the ball well. The ball is different, the rules are different. I think the teams they were playing against were more sophisticated and better prepared for the 3×3 rules, but I think they did a great job. I was really proud of them.
Wright mentions that while he was in Tokyo he handled defense with Indiana Pacers assistant Lloyd Pierce, but he brings home a lot more than just his gold medal.
“Lots of stuff,” Wright said of his take out. “Things we did offensively pick-and-roll offense and cut. A lot of things are terminology and concepts. … just a lot of good stuff. There are a lot of great basketball minds out there.
Hall of Fame Preparations
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is expected to induct its new class in a two-day event on September 10 and 11.
Wright is one of 16 members of the 2021 class, a group that also includes Rick Adelman, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Bill Russell, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Val Ackerman, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Howard Garfinkel. , Clarence “Fats” Jenkins, Tuni Kukoc, Bob Dandridge and Pearl Moore.
Wright expanded on his decision to have Charles Barkley, Bill Cunningham, Herb Magee and George Raveling be his presenters at the dedication ceremony.
“Growing up in Philadelphia and being a part of the Philadelphia basketball world, the Philadelphia basketball family made such an impact on me,” he said. “I wanted to go with the guys from my hometown who were part of my Philadelphia basketball education. This is exactly why I chose the four of them, and in different ways.
“Herbie Magee is just a legend, having recruited me out of high school, and I’ve learned so much from him. Charles being such a good friend and one of the greatest basketball players in Philadelphia. Billy C., great friends with Coach Mass and he brought a championship to Philly. Next, George Raveling being Mr. Villanova and Philadelphia.
Now all that’s left is his Hall of Fame speech, which is still a work in progress.
“It’s like an essay, I have to leave at the last minute,” Wright said. “There are 16 inductees this year, the biggest class ever, so we’re really limited. My challenge is that I don’t want to say too many names and then leave out the others, so I have to figure that out. “
A summer filled with wounds
Villanova certainly had issues with injuries and COVID-19 last year, but the Wildcats’ woes lingered until the summer.
On the bright side for Villanova, almost everyone is back and allowed to resume their basketball activities. However, there was a pretty long list of complications, injuries, and just overall bad luck.
Wright revealed that Caleb Daniels had remaining issues from his battle with COVID-19 that he struggled with. As a result, he missed most of the summer and wasn’t cleared until the very end of July.
Jermaine Samuels has had successful finger surgery. It was initially reported that Samuels had injured his finger after the Wildcats moved to Bubbleville. He ended up playing in 25 of 26 games last season. Surgery corrected a broken finger, and he was also absent until the end of July.
First year goalie Angelo Brizzi had complications with his adenoids and missed a lot of time. He ended up having his tonsils removed.
To top it off, Justin Moore and Brandon Slater were in a car accident. Moore suffered a concussion as a result of the incident, but both players are now fine.
Collin Gillespie and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree continued their rehabilitation after their late season injuries.
“Everyone is 100%, everyone is back, Collin included, but Dhamir is still progressing slowly,” Wright said. “Still not 100%. Part being he’s been out for so long and conditioned, and part is still with his shin.
Cosby-Roundtree is the only question mark remaining on Villanova’s now-thinned injury list, and Wright plans to do another assessment on a schedule for a comeback once training begins next month.