Jay Wright explains how Gregg Popovich’s influence will be felt at Villanova this season
College basketball season starts next weekend for most teams. But for Villanova University coach Jay Wright, the start of a new year will mark the end of an exhausting six-month period since his team played their last one.
We all know what happened in that final game: Villanova won the national championship in thrilling fashion over North Carolina back in April. But what many people forget is that after that, Wright spent quite a bit of his summer working with Team USA basketball. Specifically, he served as an assistant coach for the select team with Spurs coach — and the new head coach of the Team USA senior national team — Gregg Popovich.
Clearly Pop is one of the great coaches in the game, a man who has won five NBA titles overall, dating back to 1999.
And as Wright explained to FOX Sports college basketball insider Evan Daniels on the newest episode of “The Sidelines Podcast,” working alongside Pop all summer long was invaluable.
“It was awesome,” Wright said. “It was really one of the great learning experiences of my coaching career, and I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of great ones. And a lot of those were spent with Coach K and Jerry Colangelo, and a lot of other Team USA teams.
But, I was Coach Pop’s assistant on the select team, so watching him set up practices, run practices, evaluate talent; coach against, we coached against the Olympic team. And to sit with him when the Olympic team played the Argentina team and just evaluate a game with him was was incredible. He’s got a really unique perspective on the game, a really unique perspective on life, and I think that’s what makes his teams special.”
What was the one thing that Wright brought back with him to Villanova, courtesy of Pop?
“One simple thing,” Wright said. “He has a ‘.5 rule.’ Hold the ball for .5 seconds; if you don’t shoot it, drive it, or pass it in .5 seconds, he’s on you. He wants that ball moving, and he wants people moving. And he really holds the guys accountable to that. I really that. It’s one of a number of things that we have implemented here in our program.”
While I’ve never personally heard of the “.5 rule” it doesn’t surprise me that it exists. And it makes total sense. The Spurs they are one of the most selfless teams in the league, with some of the best ball movement in the sport.
The conversation about Popovich and Team USA was just part of a fascinating, wide ranging interview with Coach Wright on “The Sidelines.” The Villanova coach also discussed his time at the school, and why he’s only been able to watch last year’s national championship game one time since that famous April night. He also shared an incredible – and in hindsight funny – story about how he nearly threw current NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry off his Villanova team before Lowry ever even played a game.
It’s also just part of “The Sidelines,” a season-long interview series with some of the biggest names in coaching and basketball. Things got kicked off last week with an exclusive interview with Coach K (which you can listen to here), and there are plenty more big-name guests to come.
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