Thursday, January 10, 2013

Feeling Stronger Every Day


The ladies love Cetera

The best way to judge a coaching staff's performance is the improvement of a team as a season goes on. Last season, that did not happen much, but this season, it is clear to anyone who has followed the Villanova basketball team that they have made significant gains from where they were at the early part of the season, and I think that is a testament to the coaching staff.

College coaches have two jobs essentially: the first is to recruit talent, and the second is to develop that talent into a team. The in game portion of coaching is vastly overrated, which is why even Phil Jackson couldn't fix the current Lakers, despite conventional wisdom saying otherwise. Sure, there's motivation and all of that jazz, but a college coach has two primary roles: a headhunter and a teacher.

Jay Wright has a deserved reputation for being an excellent recruiter, but I think the area where he gets shortchanged is his ability to foster an environment where each player improves significantly, and buys into the system. There may be some notable failures in that area in recent years, but there are also players like Maurice Sutton, who walked on campus as a completely useless scrub, but will leave as a useful basketball player who has proved that he belongs in the Big East. Dante Cunningham came to Villanova as a useful rotational player, but he left a star, and it looks like he's going to have a very long pro career. The list of players who have gotten demonstrably better under Jay is much longer than those who stagnated or transferred out. I feel like we as Villanova fans have lost sight of this over the last 24 months or so. A coach cannot force a player to buy in to a program, nor can he wave a magic wand and turn a malcontent into a highly-motivated model citizen.

The future is coming, it's not looking quite as dark as it did just five weeks ago, and I think Jay and the coaching staff deserve a hell of a lot of credit for that.

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