HOUSTON — Jay Wright's legacy changed when Kris Jenkins' shot floated and fell through the basket Monday night.
Wright immediately vaults into the conversation of college basketball's best coaches. He is one of only nine active head coaches with a national title and multiple Final Four appearances. His team just finished off one of the most dominant NCAA tournament performances ever. And Wright did all of that without a single surefire first-round NBA draft pick on his roster.
But you know what?
Wright is no better today—as a champion—than he was a month ago when he was in charge of a program that had been labeled a bust in March after losing as a top-two seed in the second round for two straight years. Judging college basketball coaches by what they do in the NCAA tournament is like judging a Major League Baseball player by his plate appearances for one week in October.
Wright's consistency—11 tourney appearances in the last 12 years, five Sweet 16 appearances, two Final Fours and a 48-6 record over the last three years in the Big East—screams that this guy is one of the game's best coaches.
But if NCAA tournament performance is how we're going to evaluate Wright, he displayed in the last three weeks what makes him and his program so special.
That was the only word that left Wright's mouth while Jenkins' shot soared toward the hoop.
Wright's expression never changed as the ball fell through the basket. No fist pump. No arms flailing. No running around like a crazy man looking for someone to hug—a la Jim Valvano in 1983.
"When you're a coach, you're always thinking about the next play," Wright said.
A team, you always hear, takes on the personality of its coach.
The pillars of Wright's program are preparedness, toughness, fundamentals, poise and unselfishness. All five were on display in those 4.7 seconds of history.
Before Villanova even put the ball into play, Daniel Ochefu grabbed a mop and dried up the wet spot he had created when he dove on the floor the previous play.
"I knew exactly where I had to set the screen," Ochefu said. "I didn't want to slip. I didn't want [Ryan Arcidiacono] to slip."
This is the guy who's supposed to set the screen, and he's going to use whatever means possible to ensure that he's crossed every "T" and dotted every "I" before the play begins.
The play—called "Nova"—is something the Wildcats work on every day at practice. They knew exactly what they were supposed to do, and they executed it with a calmness like it was a Tuesday practice in February.
Wright even celebrated like it was a practice shot.
On the exit of Villanova's locker room at the Final Four, there was a piece of tape with "ATTITUDE" written in marker. The players smack it every time they go out the door. Teams with great attitude play selfless basketball.
Arcidiacono found the open man on that final play because that was the right thing to do.
"That's been our team all season," assistant coach Baker Dunleavy said. "Nobody cares who gets the credit.
Guys played hard for each other on both ends of the floor. The last play was a testament to that."
"Ryan could have easily forced the shot, and game goes into overtime, no big deal," Villanova assistant coach Ashley Howard said. "But he made the right play just because he trusted his brother, and Kris came through for him."
When Brad Stevens took little ol' Butler to back-to-back national title games, he immediately became a legend.
Those Butler teams just executed better than everyone else on both ends. That's another way of saying those Butler teams just played better basketball, despite having less talent.
But the first Butler team had Gordon Hayward, now one of the best wings in the NBA, and both teams had Shelvin Mack, who was the 34th pick in the 2011 draft and has become a solid role player in the league.
This Villanova roster has several players who could eventually play in the NBA, but there's not a clear-cut pro on the roster. (Josh Hart is the closest thing.)
When I asked an NBA scout this weekend if it was conceivable that no Nova players would ever get drafted, he said, yes, that's a real possibility.
That would be a first. Ever. Since the first NBA draft in 1947, every national champ has had at least one player on its roster get drafted. The last time a national champ didn't have a first-round pick was Indiana in 1987. Prior to that, it was Loyola (Illinois) in 1963, and there were only nine picks in the first round that year.
So the Wildcats could be an extreme outlier if this roster truly doesn't have a single NBA draft pick on it. That's not to say Villanova's talent was poor—it wasn't—but Wright not only got every ounce of ability out of those guys; he did so in dominant fashion.
The Wildcats set a Final Four record by smoking Oklahoma by 44 points. Their average margin of victory in the tournament was 20.7 points. Their offensive efficiency (129.8 points per 100 possessions) was by far better than any champ of the last 15 years.
|Best offensive efficiency of a champ during tourney since 2002|
|Adj. Off. Eff.|
|1. Villanova (2016)||129.8|
|1. Florida (2007)||124.0|
|2. Louisville (2013)||120.8|
|3. North Carolina (2005)||119.4|
|4. Duke (2010)||118.2|
|5. Kentucky (2012)||117.9|
And the final three teams they played—maybe even the final four, including Miami—all had better NBA prospects.
Villanova was just better schooled and played with more poise than all of those teams.
That's not something new to Villanova basketball. That's the norm on most nights.
Now we've just been able to witness it on the biggest stage.
And now we can all appreciate Wright for what he is, for what he's always been: one of the best coaches in college basketball. Period.
C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @CJMooreBR.