by John Fanta
BOSTON — Jay Wright and Bob Huggins have their differences. Their appearance jumps out as the first contrasting factor between the two. There’s GQ Jay, donned in the best suit a man can wear. Meanwhile, “Huggy Bear” will go with his same navy blue, WVU windbreaker when the two coaches square off in the Sweet 16 on Friday night at the TD Boston Garden.
“They have two unique styles,” said Villanova’s Jalen Brunson. “I think they both have a very good chance of winning their own bracket. Coach (Wright) is over one one side, Coach Huggins is on the other. They’re definitely unique.”
Despite all of the differences, though, Wright and Huggins are one in the same in one area of college basketball. Neither has a one-and-done player on their squad.
By combining for fifteen Sweet 16 appearances, seven Elite Eight’s, and four Final Four’s, it’s safe to say the two are doing pretty well without those early-exit stars. And while that doesn’t mean both coaches aren’t in on recruiting potential one-and-done stars, the two are content where they are.
“There’s certain guys that just don’t fit our culture,” said Wright. “It’s the beauty of college athletics. There’s a lot of different ways to do it. It’s just our culture is such that we want someone that wants to be in college, and if they’re good enough to leave in one year — Kyle Lowry was good enough in two years — if they’re good enough to be a first-round pick in one year, great. And then let’s work out a way for you to come back and finish your degree and remain a part of the Villanova community. That’s our philosophy.”
The more casual Huggins had a simpler way of looking at it.
“I told my athletic director (Shane Lyons) that he really had two choices, either fire me for recruiting the guys I recruited or give me a raise for being able to win with them,” said Huggins, who has made 22 of the last 25 NCAA Tournaments.
He went on, making reference to pursuing a dream girl.
“You spend a whole lot of time recruiting guys you don’t get,” said Huggins. “You know, it’s like chasing a girl you may want to marry but can’t. You spend all that time, spend all that money chasing her around, buying her things. At the end of the day, she walks off with somebody else.”
Villanova will have a one-and-done coming to Philadelphia next year – provided he’s eligible – in five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly. The New Jersey native decommitted from Arizona amid the FBI probe into college basketball, as the recruitment of Quinerly was allegedly involved in the investigation. The point guard is thought to be the natural replacement for Jalen Brunson.
“I don’t want it out there that I’m against one-and-dones,” said Wright. “I want them. We try. Certain ones, we really try.”
Experience can bring about a lot of mileage on the Big Dance floor, and that’s seen in the point guard match-up between Brunson and West Virginia’s Jevon Carter. The two lead their teams in this showdown, which tips off the weekend from Boston on Friday at 7:27 PM ET. The game will be televised on TBS, with the winner facing either Purdue or Texas Tech on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.