September 17, 2020 –
Now that the NCAA has provided a starting point announcing that games may begin starting on November 25, the Villanova men’s team can focus on the schedule for the 2020-21 season, and getting practice time with the whole team.
Coach Jay Wright met with the media this afternoon to discuss the state of the team and the upcoming season.
The start date announced by the NCAA is a starting point for the Villanova staff. At this time finalizing the Big East schedule is the first point of business.
“It’s great news for us in college basketball,” Wright said about the starting date. “It gives us a starting point. We know what are limited number of games are, what the minimum is to play in the NCAA Tournament. Now, we have to start with our conference. We are trying first to get our conference schedule given these new parameters. Once put together a conference schedule, we can see how does that overlay on the old non-conference schedule. We are all scrambling.”
Once the conference schedule is established, as soon as possible according to the coach, the attention to non-conference play can be addressed. Villanova had games scheduled with Virginia and Howard, the Big 10 challenge game, and with the other Big Five schools. But the Big East schedule will show the available game dates, and can the other school accommodate the open dates? That is an open question.
Locally, two of the Big Five games against Temple and Penn need to be looked at because those games were to be played prior to the new opening date.
“The Temple game for us is outside of the new schedule,” Wright said. “Penn, we don’t know what they are doing. We’re probably not going to be able to look at it like the Big Five this year. We have to look at it like, can we schedule a Penn game, and can we fit the Temple game in. La Salle and Saint Joe are good because they’re scheduled within the time frame of the schedule.”
The conference is conducting calls with the coaches and athletic directors to finalize the questions. Bubbles are a possibility.
“We are considering a bubble, but it’s a number of considerations right now,” said Wright. “Not for all games, it’s for a portion of games. As a league we want to try to get in as many games as we can. It starts with league games. If you can get in as many league games and get them scheduled, then then try to get in as many non-conference games as possible. That’s how we are looking at it.”
The practice aspect for preparing for a season is another situation that is evolving. Wright has been pleased by the intensity, but has yet to have a full team practice. On the court sessions are limited to four players in a pod. The full team can start later. Presently, four of the players, incoming freshman, have yet to meet with the team and coaches in person.
Still, there is much to be resolved, and the situation remains fluid. And COVID is still lurking. Will the team play at the Pavilion and/or the Wells Fargo Center? However, there is a starting point. And that gives a lift to the team and coaching staff.
“This has been important,” said Wright about learning the start date. “Some players, it’s their senior year, they don’t know if they were going to have a season. Hearing that (start date) I sense a little bit of relief in the guys today. A little extra motivation in them today. Same with our staff. It has given us some clarity to go forward with. And it has taken a work load off us because we were preparing for everything. Now we have some parameters to work with.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian