Kevin Willard talks with Vin Parise about coaching in the Big East and his special group of Seniors

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Kevin Willard talks about his special group of Seniors and the challenge of coaching in the Big East.

[MUSIC PLAYING] KEVIN WILLARD: I am honored to be here, and let's get ready to rock the rock. Thank you.


VIN PARISE: We're going to turn back the clock here just a little bit. I want you to take us back to 2010. You have the success of rebuilding Iona, and you get the Seton Hall job here. What do you remember about those first couple of years?

KEVIN WILLARD: When I first got the job, it was hard because I had a group of very talented players-- Jordan Theodore, Hazi, Herb Pope. And when you have a group of really good players, there's always going to be a void in year two or three when those guys leave. And when you're just trying to really make a name for yourself at this level, you're going to take a dropoff. And that was really the daily struggle that we had when we first started here.


Going to have a great day. Not a good day, a great day. Be a factor on defense. Hands, hands. Nice. Oh, that's nice basketball.

VIN PARISE: And you also have another unique perspective. You've coached in the old big East, but now you're part of this veteran group of coaches leading into this new league. Did you think the league will be where it's at now?

KEVIN WILLARD: I give a lot of credit to Jay Wright. In our first meetings in Florida in the spring, he got all 10 coaches together and said, hey, guys. No one thinks this is going to work.

Everyone's saying it's not going to be good. And Jay really got us to understand that we have to become a very tight brotherhood of coaches. And I think, from that part forward, we really felt this thing could take off, and it really has.

ANNOUNCER: Here come the Pirates. They can hurt you in so many ways.

VIN PARISE: You had a whole class come in together. They're going to go out together. You rebuild the program from scratch here. Did you think it would come together like this?

- No. I mean, to be honest with you, I think going into this group's sophomore year, I felt we could have a special year. But I also knew that if we didn't do a good job, someone else would be replacing me.

So why don't you just enjoy coaching this team and have fun doing it? And by me doing that, I think it took a lot of pressure off the guys. And they were able to enjoy the whole process of this, getting to this point.

VIN PARISE: Now, three straight years, you're having this postseason success. What's your vision for your program now moving forward in this league?

KEVIN WILLARD: To be consistent year in, year out. I think that's the hardest thing to do at this level. I think the biggest thing that we're looking forward to now is, as we lose this great group of guys that have helped us get there, is that this younger group now takes that mantle and understands what it took for us to get there.