March 17, 2010
Q. I know it's been a year now, but does that play at the Boston Garden still resonate the Pittsburgh game?
Scottie Reynolds: It's just now starting to, because everything with the NCAA Tournament. Me and Reggie were just watching something about last second shots. You just remember the feeling of that Elite 8 game against Pitt and what it took to get there.
We talked about it with our team and that emotion that came out during that tournament. We want to try to get back to that same thing.
Q. Reggie, two days ago when we told Jay about you watching Robert Morris and saying they're tough and such, he said, oh, good, if Reggie tells them that, they'll listen to him more than they'll listen to me. I wonder if you can talk about the graduation of you into a leadership role, whether that felt natural, whether you had to work at it, going from being a player to being a leader?
Reggie Redding: Well, I think Coach Wright does a great job with their players and developing them into being great leaders. I guess he said I've been one of the toughest jobs for the last couple of years now, I'm still learning how to be a leader. And I'm just happy that he never gave up on me and still gave me a chance and gave me the opportunity. And I'm just taking every day at a time.
I'm learning from Scottie still every day and just listening to what he got to tell me. And hopefully one day I can be a great leader like the rest of the seniors that graduated from here.
Q. Scottie, I think you two both are going to be playing, what, your 11th NCAA game. Does it seem different this time? Is the feeling different or does every time have some things in common?
Scottie Reynolds: I think every time is different or not every game but every group of guys that you're with. Last year the group of guys last year, we were together for two years. We pretty much knew everything about that team and what we were capable of.
And this team, it's a little different because we know what we're capable of, but we're still striving to that perfection, still striving to be the best team we can be. And that's all we're concentrating on is trying to be the best team we can be, to take one game at a time. We have a tough opponent against Robert Morris.
Q. Reggie, Robert Morris has a few Philly kids on their team. I just talked to Velton Jones. Do you know any of those guys or have you come across them in your basketball travels?
Reggie Redding: Well, Velton Jones, he played on the same AAU team as I did. He was on a younger group. I've known him for a while now, for a lot of years, just from playing basketball in the City. And we were actually good friends. And I'm good friends with his brother. And my mom and his sister is best friends. Velton, he's a tough Philly guy. He goes hard. He likes the big game, the big time, the big lights. And I know he's going to come out ready to compete and just come out and be a killer tomorrow.
Q. Scottie, your journey has been kind of unique, how you got here, the things you've went through, you've talked about that. And now you're beginning the final six games or however many games it's going to be. Can you talk about that? I know you don't want to look at the end. But it's kind of out there.
Scottie Reynolds: I look at my journey as a blessing, you know, as a young 18 year old when you have your eyes and plans set on one thing and it just gets turned upside down. That's hard for an 18 year old. But looking back on that, as a 22 year old, I'm thankful for those things that happened. I'm thankful for being able to be in this program and being able to learn from the great guys that have come through this program.
And I'm not any better than them. I'm just another piece of the puzzle. I'm just another part in the program trying to do my part, just like Reggie is, just like all the guys are. And one of the things here is that you're never bigger than the program. You're part of something bigger, something bigger than yourself, and you're always going to be a part of something special, no matter what you leave and go on to be. You're always going to be part of a family. And I think that holds true for every ex Villanova player we're just trying to keep the tradition alive.
I'm just fortunate and blessed to be in this position because I remember when I was in high school just trying to play D 1 basketball somewhere. And for everything that's come I'm very blessed for that.
Q. Scottie, you talked about last year's team and this year's team and just striving for that perfection and everything, can you talk about how much defensively how much of a challenge it's been implementing the new guys and missing time in the beginning?
Scottie Reynolds: You know, we never try to make any excuses for what goes on in a season, because that is the season. A season is a journey with a group of guys. And you never know if there's going to be good times, going to be bad times, going to be bumps in the road and it's all how you deal with those things.
We've had a lot of things that happened this season that people know about and people don't even know about. And we've handled ourselves great. And right now we just trying to get to the point where everybody's on the same page, and I think we all are. I think that Marquette game when we lost, it made everybody just focus even harder, look at themselves first, and then apply themselves to the team. And saying that I've got to give a little bit more defensively, whatever it is. I've got to give a little bit more, whatever it is. And our intensity in practice has come a long way. It's exciting to see. And hopefully when we go out there on the floor today you guys will see what we're talking about.
Q. Scottie, a couple of the Robert Morris guys said the pressure is all on you guys, being the favorites, 2 against the 15. Mentally what's it like to be the 2 seed in a game like this?
Scottie Reynolds: You know, I think even when we were preseason No. 1 we never looked at it as pressure. We knew that people were going to come at us even harder, even when we were ranked No. 2 in the country. We never asked to be ranked No. 2 in the country, it's just what comes with it. We handled it great. We understand people were going to come at us.
When you're watching film of a team, they're going to bring that intensity to a whole other level. We understand that. And even in this tournament, being the 2 versus 15, to some people it matters, but for us we're just trying to go out there and play a 40 minute game of Villanova basketball and just play for each other and try to get it done for each other. And whatever the result is, when we go back in the locker room we know we gave it up for each other, win or lose.
Q. You went to a Final Four last year. Is it good for you to think about it and the feeling you had and what it took to get there and the whole experience or is it a bad thing because it might be getting ahead of the program here in 2010?
Reggie Redding: I think it depends how you look at it. I know for myself and for Scottie, we won't look at it as if it's a bad thing. I know before we left to come to Providence we got our Final Four rings from last year, as kind of a motivational thing trying to show the young guys, hey, let's get another one. And we're going to use that as motivation and try to get back. It's different when you're a senior and you lead your team to a Final Four when you're a junior and you're following the older guys, the seniors, the leaders.
Now if me and Scottie can lead our team to a Final Four it will be another great thing. It will be a different feeling with this team.
Scottie Reynolds: I think the emotion, I said this earlier, the emotion that we have for each other after that Pitt game, it wasn't about you can ask any of our games it the wasn't about me making that shot. It was the feeling after, when we were hugging each others. There's no words, just tears and emotion. And it was because we felt like we deserved it and we put in all that work and heart and time for each other, not for anybody individually.
And I think that's where we're trying to get to is that emotion and that unselfishness with each other that we're creating right now, and that's what makes this team even more special than last year.
Q. Scottie, you guys have said that you are playing better basketball now than you were when you were No. 2 in the country. But you've lost 5 of 7, is there any concern that you're playing what you think is your best basketball and you're still losing and how that might affect you guys how you're going deeper in the tournament against better teams?
Scottie Reynolds: We never fear losing. The biggest fear we have is somebody coming into our basketball game, playing harder and more together than us. We feel it's Coach Wright says full effort is full victory. It's about your effort. And for us it's about playing harder and more together than the other opponent.
And if we can do that we feel like good things will happen for us, and if we go out there and we do play hard and we aren't together, and it doesn't fall our way, we know we played our style, our way and we gave it up for each other.
Q. Robert Morris, they talked a little about the Hampton/Iowa State upset, and some of the other 15 2 upsets. Do you guys talk about those games the other way around?
Reggie Redding: No. If we come out tomorrow and we play hard and we play together and we play 40 minutes of the way we're supposed to play and Robert Morris comes out and beat us, but like Scottie says, we give our full effort, give everything we've got and be committed, then you can't really be of course you'd be upset about the loss, because we're competitors, but you can't be that upset. You feel worse when you know you could have done more than you could do and you lose.
Q. One of you said moments ago it's a different feel as a senior, you know, the Final Four and all that. Coaches are constantly talking about teams in terms of their chances on the number of seniors, what kind of seniors they have. For both of you, if you could address this, now that you are seniors, compared to what you might have thought as a sophomore, say, quantify what that means to be a senior in a program?
Reggie Redding: Well, I know in this program it's a lot to be a senior leader in this program. You're held to a higher standard. You have great responsibility. And I know just when we finish here and we graduate everyone we'll be known for that Final Four team, but if we do finish making it to the Final Four or however far we go in national champions we'll be known for our senior year, how we left the tradition, and if we kept the legacy going.
Scottie Reynolds: As far as coming from sophomore year to senior year I think that's what makes this program special is that, you know, when you're young you look up to the guys that are ahead of you. You buy in and you respect what they go through and you respect what they've done. And you learn from that as a youngster.
So when you're in that spot you know how to get your team ready. You know what is expected of you as a senior. And we're trying to do that same thing. So when Maalik, Cheek, Isaiah, and Mou, when they're in our position, they will demand of the guys that are freshmen coming in or sophomores or whatever it will be, the guys that are under them. So this program can continue to be where it is today.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Coach Wright. Coach, would you like to make a statement.
COACH WRIGHT: We're very happy to be in Providence. A great town that we love to come to in the Big East, if not for playing the Friars, it would always be a great trip. The team we have to face here, Robert Morris, is incredibly well coached and disciplined and very tenacious. So we expect a really tough battle tomorrow and we're really looking forward to it.
Q. Has Scottie Reynolds been the definition of a money player for this program?
COACH WRIGHT: He's been not just the definition of a money player, but the definition of a Villanova basketball player, what we want every guy to be. He has hit incredible shots to win games, but more than that, he's made other plays over his year.
I can remember a game against Pitt where he made a perfect pass to Dante Cunningham to win the game. This year he had a steal to win a game. He's done everything you can do to win a game. It's great to have a guy like that on your side.
Q. Earlier in the year you described Taylor King as not having anything up here, and you meant that in a good way. I'm wondering if he still has that given the rough stretch he's gone through lately?
COACH WRIGHT: That's a great question. I'm sorry that you remembered that, but he does. He's a fearless kid. Sometimes he doesn't think before he does things. Sometimes that's why he gets himself in a little trouble, but just like a kid, nothing vicious or anything. He's just a young, energetic kid. He's like a puppy, you love him. And I think he's in a real good place right now.
He had a little problem, we worked it out. I think he learned a great lesson. He's been practicing great. We really look forward to using him. I think he's going to be important in tomorrow's game. I think he's in a good spot right now. Just a young kid that's learning some lessons in college.
Q. Have you fine tuned or changed how you prepare for the tournament from the end of the regular season over the past few years, coming off a stretch you probably wouldn't have wanted this year? Is there a total disconnect from the season and how you prepare? Has that changed at all?
COACH WRIGHT: You know for us it's different every year based on the personality of our team and really where our team is. Last year at this time we were a well oiled machine. And our practices were very simple. They were very quick. It was more get in, get our work done, get out, don't get anybody hurt.
This year we've been practicing much longer, just trying to take advantage of every second we can get our young, big guys on the floor, every second we can get our different combinations playing together. We feel like we're still a work in progress. That's probably not a good thing to say on one hand. But on the other hand we feel that every chance we get to practice and play this team can get a lot better.
Q. When you were at Hofstra, I knew you had a 13 and 14 seed going to the NCAA. Can you talk about the mindset of a 13, 14, 15 seed, what they think, feel, coming into the game, and how that works on you as No. 2.
COACH WRIGHT: That's a good question. It's different. The first time you go to the tournament, and I'm just thinking about Mike Rice now that you asked the question. The first year we went against Oklahoma State against Eddie Sutton and a tough team. We watched the film, we thought they were really good. We thought we were really good. And got into the game and Speedy Claxton broke his finger ten minutes into the game. Our guys were getting pounded. We thought, wow, that's why we were a 14 or 15 seed.
But the next year when we came back, we had UCLA, and a lot of the same guys, we came back the second time and we thought, okay, we know what this is going to be like. We're going to take some bumps and bruises early, and we did and almost beat UCLA. That's how I look at this Robert Morris team. They went up against Michigan State, did a great job in the first round, Michigan State pulled away. But they kept coming. They got it down to like 14. I think we're going to have a good mindset coming into this game. They've got a lot of guys that have already played in this type of game.
Q. Reggie Redding was here before and said Coach Wright calls me a work in progress and says he's basically still a work in progress in terms of being a senior leader. Can you talk about the progress report right now, where are we right now?
COACH WRIGHT: I was in the back listening to him. You know, I think he's really starting to get it. I think he had a real unique situation because I think he felt when he came back that he had to make up for his errors. And he was always trying to do it on the basketball court. And I think he felt guilty and he wanted to show his teammates that he was going to come back and make up for his mistakes.
And I was trying to explain to him you don't have to do that. You just have to be a great leader. And they'll follow you. Off the court he did a great job, off the court. I said on the court you don't have to be a super star, you just have to be Reggie Redding. I think he's getting that right now, and I look forward to him having a big tournament.
Q. I know you love Philly guards, Philly players. Robert Morris has their share of Philly guys. What do you think about their Philly players, and what do you think about Mike Rice coming in and trying to get a few to help him in the future?
COACH WRIGHT: Yeah, I'll tell you, we really are impressed with their team. They play a lot like we like to play. Right now, really, I think they're better defensively than us. They're more sound. I'm very impressed with how he's got Abraham as a freshman to defend so well and Jones, the kid out of Northeast Catholic in Philadelphia, Johnson out of Chester. They're both redshirt freshmen. But they play like an experienced player.
I really like their team. He's got Philly assistance. He's got Andy Toole, Phil Martelli's son, Jimmy. They know a lot about us. They play a style that we really respect. And even Abraham played on the same AAU team as Cheek. They all know each other, they've all played at the same schools, same AAU programs. It's going to be a battle. I know it's going to be a battle.
I'm upset I was smoking a cigar, when I told my wife I wasn't smoking cigars at my kids little league games.
Q. Four guards four years ago, guards, guards, guards, et cetera. For 60 years Bob Cousy has reached to us it's a game of speed and quickness. Have you altered what you can achieve in the game without real bona fide big men?
COACH WRIGHT: I do agree that it's a game of speed and quickness. And last year really, we a lot of times played with two guards last year, but we had quick, fast players that looked like guards. Dwayne Anderson, even Dante Cunningham could play on the perimeter. But we like our guards, but we really look for basketball players. And that's the truth, that have some speed and quickness.
For instance, we have a big guy, more East Sutton that's going to be good because he can run, and he's pretty quick and can cover ground. He's just got to learn to play a little more. We're not afraid to take size if they have speed and quickness.
Q. A couple of questions ago you were talking about the combination of Robert Morris and Villanova, players from Philly. What is it about that Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey corridor that seems to produce so many Division 1 basketball players? Is it the high schools or is it just the region, itself?
COACH WRIGHT: We kind of compare the Big East sometimes to the SEC in football and kind of the northeast region to the southeast in football where it's just a part of your blood in that area, Philly, D.C., New York, New Jersey. For instance, in that area when the high school basketball season ends those kids are playing in an AAU Tournament the next weekend. There's no offseason for basketball.
Like you always hear in the south, you know, there's football season, then there's recruiting and then there's spring football. And it's always football. Well in those areas it's always basketball. Those kids play spring AAU, then summer AAU, they play fall leagues with their high school teams and then fall AAU. It's 24 hours a day. It's 7 days a week, 12 months a year. And we love those kind of kids.
Q. You know Mike well and his name has been tossed around for some of these openings. What impresses you about Mike and the way he coaches a team?
COACH WRIGHT: Number 1, his passion, his intensity, but, you know, the more I watched his teams from afar kind of as a fan, I'll watch any game. But preparing for them, I'm even more impressed with his ability to teach execution. His teams are very disciplined. You can see offensively, they've got some great concepts. We're going to steal some for next year. And you can see that he's really, really has thought out a philosophy behind how his team plays and it's well taught.
Q. Speaking of openings, we're getting reports that Bobby Gonsalez is out at Seton Hall. I don't know if you've heard that. Could you comment a little bit on the change and volatility in coaching at that level and anything about him as being one of a kind, unique?
COACH WRIGHT: About Gonsalez being one of a kind, I can't say it better than you.
Q. I'm giving you the opening.
COACH WRIGHT: Gonsalez was my assistant on a USA team in the World University Games. Himself, Jeff Capel and I coached the team. And we won the gold medal and it was a great experience, it really was. He was outstanding. He did an amazing job. And I did that for Jim Boeheim, I was assistant. It's hard as head coach to go back and be an assistant, and do the scouting report and get the kids on the bus. He did a great job, as well as Jeff.
I think the world of him. He's gone so and he is what he is. And in our business there's not a lot of characters anymore, because it's so demanding and there's such a microscope on you. I'm not saying it's good or bad. I'm saying it is what it is. Some people like it, some people don't. I think it's one of the reasons to expand the tournament to 96 teams. Everybody just wants to get to the tournament. When you don't, it's looked at as a failure.
I think they had a very good season. I think St. John's had a very good season. It's not perceived that way if you don't get to the NCAA Tournament and then people start talking about your job. It can happen to any one of us at any time. I know at Villanova, two years, three years, we don't go, they're going to start talking about it in our place. It's the way it is in our business. I'm not saying it's bad. We all get compensated very well. It's just what the business is now.
Q. 96 would make a difference in perception?
COACH WRIGHT: I think so because the NIT, I've always I've just stopped saying this year, I've always said let's make the NIT what it used to be. Let's pump up the NIT because there's still great teams in that. You go play in New York. I love going to New York. When we were in the NIT, I always said that, this is a great thing. But it just doesn't happen.
People still look at that as a negative, which is a shame. So why do it when it's still a negative. Let's expand the NCAA Tournament, make it positive. There's nothing negative about the NCAA tournament. I think it will slow everybody down, give them more time. I think coaches would make better decisions because they felt like they had more time.