Villanova coach Jay Wright visited the SportsRadio 94 WIP studios in Old City on Thursday and spent some time on the air. Wright was in the studio to make the on-air announcement that WIP-AM will carry the radio broadcasts of the Wildcat’s games this season.
The coach, who will be entering his 12th season at the helm, chatted with WIP’s afternoon hosts Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano about ‘Nova hoops, the Big East, and coaching in Philadelphia during a 20-minute sit-down with the guys.
Wright provided listeners with an outlook of what his depth chart and roster will be looking like for the season. While the three agreed that the program is usually known for having great guards, and being what Wright called, “Guard U,” it is the front court that brings the most experience this season.
“We have, usually, a lot of guards, but our experience is up front this year, with Mouphtaou Yarou, Mo Sutton, our only two seniors, James Bell is a junior,” Wright said on WIP. “Then [for] our freshmen, we have Daniel Ochefu, from Westtown, a local kid, and then you add JayVaughn Pinkston to that group and we’ve really got some size and strength up front.
It represents a change in the typical area of strength of “Guard U.”
“It’s going to be a different look,” Wright said. “We can really defend and rebound.”
He then looked at the guard position, specifically new faces Ryan Arcidiacono and Tony Chennault. Wright has been very impressed thus far with Arcidiacono, a freshman point guard, and thinks he can go on to be another great Villanova guard at “Guard U”, and Chennault is a transfer from Wake Forrest.
“And then our guards are young, but exciting,” he said. “We added South Philly’s own, Tony Chennault from Neumann-Goretti. He’s transferred back and is ready to play, he’s had a great preseason. Ryan Arcidiacono is a local guy from Neshaminy High School, is having a great preseason and I think is going to be one of those great Villanova guards.”
Wright made it no secret how thrilled he was to have a guard with Philadelphia roots such as Chennualt, as well as college experience, transfer to his program. For Wright, he will bring a lot to the table.
“He knows college basketball, he’s been around,” Wright said. “He’s a classic Philly guard, coming out of Neumann-Goretti: tough, smart and really mature on the court and off the court.”
Gargano and Wright both marveled at Arcidiacono’s pedigree. When asked by Macnow on whether he could be a starting point guard as a freshman, Wright thought so. He compared him to other great guards that were able to start as freshmen, such as Kyle Lowry, Scottie Reynolds, Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher.
One thing that is different and will be more challenging for his latest freshman point guard is the experience around him, which is lacking in comparison to the four other former Wildcats he mentioned. He thinks the Langhorne, Pa., native can handle it, however.
“What’s going to be a challenge for Ryan is he’s going to start as a freshman, that’s where Tony Chennualt, coming in as a junior, has been a great addition for us,” Wright explained. “Most of the other guys are young, so Ryan’s going to have a lot on his shoulders, but he can handle it; he’s a Bucks County boy, so he can handle it.” (Wright also is a Bucks County native.)
Because of the circumstances surrounding Arcidiacono, especially when you consider losing a player like Wayns, it makes the addition of Chennault even more critical to add experience.
“He’s one guy around Ryan that’s going to be helpful to him,” he said.
Speaking of Wayns, Wright has been thrilled to see his former guard playing well with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA preseason.
“We’re so fired up about Maalik Wayns,” Wright said. “He came over after practice and wanted to show everyone his new car yesterday, and he’s fired up about that. We’re so proud of him. We all watch the Sixers and we all follow them so now we’re watching him there, and it’s great.”
Looking at the conference in which they compete, Wright forecasted the competition and made a few predictions.
“The league is going to be incredible, Wright said. “I think Louisville has a chance to win a national championship, Syracuse is going to have a shot, and Georgetown is going to be a lot better and I think people know how good they are, and Notre Dame has a great team this year, so the conference is going to be incredible.”
Where does he see his team in all of this?
“I think by the end of the year we can be a top level team in the Big East,” he said. “We’re going to have to prove ourselves, we’ve got a lot to prove, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re fired up about this squad. ”
The head coach acknowledged that his Wildcats are not expected to make too much noise in the conference. At the Big East’s media day, Villanova was selected as the preseason’s 12th best team. Wright talked about being in the underdog position. It’s a spot the team doesn’t want to be too comfortable in and would like to soon return to the “elite” status. They know they have to earn it first, though.
“What’s great about sports is you have to earn it. And we have an opportunity to earn it.”
Finally, to wrap up the conversation, the Bucks County native expressed his appreciation of coaching in a city like Philadelphia, something he feels the other five coaches in the city share.
“You sit back and you look at the job, and you say, ‘Alright what is it like living here?’” he asked himself. “It’s a great lifestyle. It’s a great place to coach college basketball.”
You can hear the entire conversation here:
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