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June 21, 2013

Interview with Coach Wright (Pt 1)

VUSports: What was the single biggest factor in getting your team back to playing VU basketball last season?

Coach Jay Wright: It wasn't one biggest factor it was a combination of our staff, our upperclassmen in Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton and then our freshmen in Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono being so committed to our culture. Our culture changed back to what it should be and it was due to a combination of our staff, our seniors and our freshmen who just pulled everyone in-between along.

VUSports: What is your biggest concern for next season: shooting, ball control, rebounding, defending the perimeter, defending the interior ... ?

Jay Wright: Rebounding. Rebounding and defending the three-point shot. People are going to realize that Yarou averaged ten rebounds per game but he also physically beat down other forwards and allowed other people on our team to rebound.

VUSports: Who guards the post when Ochefu goes to the bench?

Jay Wright: Darryl Reynolds is showing us some good things right now. I think he will be able to do it. I think JayVaughn Pinkston will be able to do it and I think Kris Jenkins will be able to do it. They will do it in a different way than Daniel but they will be able to do it.

VUSports: What adjustments do you plan to make to better defend the three-point arc ... or is the trend of poor performance in that area more indicative of a willingness on your part to force a team to beat you from three rather than to give away driving lanes or looks from within the paint?

Jay Wright: No ... we were definitely disappointed in our three-point defense. Three-point defense is not one thing. It is a philosophy number one, its your transition defense (because a lot of teams get threes in transition), its your defensive rebounding (because a lot of teams get offensive rebounds and then kick it out for threes), and its your pick-and-roll defense. I thought our inexperience showed the most in these three areas. Transition defense, pick-and-roll defense, and not so much defensive rebounding but when we give up an offensive rebound, recovering back to shooters. I know our philosophy is committed to taking away threes. I thought it was our weakness when we played younger guys and we played bigger. It was an issue with Mouph and pick-and-roll defense ... not that he didn't do his job but the way we had to scheme our pick-and-roll defense because of his size. We had to be really good executing and we didn't execute and instead we gave up threes.

I think the Notre Dame game is a great example of not defending the pick-and-roll as a team. We gave up threes and it killed us in that game.

VUSports: Was the beginning of the North Carolina game in the NCAAs an example of having difficulty defending the three in transition?

Jay Wright: Yup ... and we played one of the best three-point shooting teams. When we got that match-up that was the first thing that hit me. We would have been better off playing a tougher, physical, grind it out team than that kind of team. They were the teams that bothered us all year. Seton Hall, Providence ... the smaller, quicker, three-point shooting teams. UNC was bigger, just as quick, and a three-point shooting team. That was the worst match-up for us but it shouldn't be next year. Our experience level playing defense, transition defense, pick-and-roll defense and what we call "converting" - when you give up an offensive rebound it is the ability to get back to the shooter right away. We would give up an offensive rebound and our young guys would still be upset about giving up the rebound and the opposition would kick it out and get threes. I think we will be better at that this year.

VUSports: ... due to the experience factor?

Jay Wright: Experience factor and, and I don't want this to come out as a knock on Mouph ... Mouph's size was a tremendous advantage for us and his rebounding was a tremendous advantage for us. So, on the defensive end, he was a net plus for us. But, in pick-and-roll defense with a guy that big you had to help with the guards. Everyone knew it. So everyone would put Mouph in the pick-and-roll and roll his man and we would have guards help and when they helped they would kick it out for threes. We won't have to do that as much now.

VUSports: ... because Ochefu is more skilled guarding pick-and-roll?

Jay Wright: Yes and because he is more mobile. I think that will help our three-point defense. I would be very disappointed if we are not significantly better in our pick-and-roll defense this year.


In the follow-on, subscriber-only, segments of our exclusive interview with Jay Wright, Coach discusses line-up options for next season, Dylan Ennis, Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart, Darryl Reynolds, big man development, the Big East, recruiting philosophy, impact of transfers, his biggest recruiting miss, the Pavilion, and more.

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