Nova's Wright fetes hoops title with pope-pourri of events

Wright de Nova celebrates the title of the hoops with the pope-pourri of the events

Wright de Nova celebrates the title of the hoops with the pope-pourri of the events

Associated Press
News May 3, 2018, 00:26 IST


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PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Jay Wright had time to chat before meeting Michelle Obama. The former first lady was in Philadelphia for an educational event and Wright was invited to give a speech. Wright and the Obamas go back to, at least, 2016 when President Barack Obama joked with the Villanova coach as "the George Clooney of coaches" for his GQ style while winning a national title.

It is a second national championship that has Wright and the former first family was intertwined again. Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth of Villanova – stars in the national title teams # 16 and # 18 – also gave a brief talk on Wednesday at the celebration that is expected to attract more than 8,000 high school students.

Wright also encountered Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo before being called on stage. The advantages of a championship are still underway for Wright and the Wildcats in a month full of activities since they beat Michigan to win the third title of the program.

Wright met with Pope Francisco last month at the Vatican and gave him a basketball signed by the team.

"Probably the most moving and inspiring experience (my wife) and I've had," Wright told The Associated Press. "You could feel that God was with him, it was really touching."

Take that, sister Jean!

Like any good coach with an intelligent game plan, Wright prepared to speak in Italian to the Pope: "Grazie, Holy Father, Coraggio." (Freely translated: Thank you, Holy Father, stay strong).

"When I handed him the ball, he said in perfect English," Do you want me to sign this? "

" I choked, "Wright said, laughing. I said: & # 39; This is a gift! & # 39; He said: Oh, thank you. Thanks. & # 39; Everyone told me to talk to him in Italian. That's why in the images you see, we laugh. "

Wright will stay longer in another Catholic institution: he will begin his 18th season in Villanova after rejecting requests from the NBA teams to talk to him about the vacancies for coach Wright, 56, has long been one of the best names in the openings of marquees or NBA programs, but has never considered leaving the Wildcats.

"Depending on who you are, I'll say: & # 39; I & # 39; I'm honored, I'm honored, I'd love to work with you, but I love my job, "Wright said." It's always that simple. "

What's not so simple? Figuring out how to keep the Wildcats national title contenders undergoes a low season of change potentially unlike any other in Wright's clock.

Brunson, the AP Player of the Year, and Mikal Bridges are headed to the NBA Donte DiVincenzo, who scored 31 points in the title game, and Omari Spellman has put his names for the draft but not for contract agents, which means they retained his eligibility for college.

"I think Donte and Omari could go in any direction," Wright said. "If they're first-round picks, we want them to leave. We are in favor of that. If that happens, we have to get some players to replace them. We may have to get some graduate transfers just to have enough players. "

Then Coach, will they leave?

" My feeling is that the two are going to face challenging but positive decisions, "Wright said." I think they are in the late, first round, second place right now. . But that may change as they go through training. You can not go in any way "

The Wildcats already had a key loss: assistant coach Ashley Howard took the lead job at La Salle, former Wildcat Mike Nardi will slip into the Howard role.

Wildcats were treated to a parade and rally at City Hall in what has become an exceptional year in Philadelphia sports.The Eagles won the Super Bowl, the 76ers made the city vibrate with a victory in the first round in the playoffs and the Phillies are an early surprise in the season, and the Flyers even made the playoffs.

Wright, who is considering following his book, "Attitude," and the Wildcats were not always the starters. Of playing the ceremonial bell of the 76ers before a postseason game once rapper Meek Mill was released from prison and got the go-ahead.

"They were so happy to meet Meek Mill and Kevin Hart. It did not bother them at all, "Wright said.

There is still one more A-lister on the record: champion Wildcats has not made a decision on a trip to the White House, if invited.

" We would definitely talk of it as a team, "said Wright.

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