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NCAAB: Will Villanova ever be the same without Jay Wright?

Former Villanova coach Jay Wright

Legendary coach Jay Wright has retired from Villanova after 21 seasons. At 60 years old, which is relatively young for college coaches, this news shocked the college basketball world. It comes only a couple of weeks after Villanova’s brutal Final Four loss to the eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks.

Wright will retire with two national championships and four Final Four appearances. He was already inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and won the Naismith Coach of the Year two times. Many NBA teams have tried to hire him, but he turned them down to stay at Villanova.

It’s pretty remarkable what Wright did at Villanova, which, all things considered, is a relatively small school. Regardless, Wright forged a premier program that was always in the mix, especially in the past decade or so. He is considered one of the best coaches of all time, and it will be hard for Villanova to match the level Wright brought them to.

Wright will retire with a 520-197 record and a dominant record over conference opponents in the Big East. While his retirement is a sad topic for college basketball as a whole, there will be a giant exhale from his rivals when they play Villanova moving forward. He retires with eight Big East regular-season championships, good enough for third all-time.

Villanova has already appointed his successor and it will be Kyle Neptune. He was a former assistant to Wright and will be coming over from Fordham, where he had a respectable season in his one year as head coach. While he went a mediocre 16-16, that was 14 more wins than the previous year and, all things considered, counts as a success.

Even so, Neptune still has huge shoes to fill and it’s unlikely he will be as revered as the legendary Wright. However, he has experience with the university and should inherit a very strong team. The expectations will be high, and it remains to be seen whether he can match them.

It’s ridiculously early, but Villanova currently has odds of +1800 with Bovada to win next year’s national title. Even at that price, it’s not worth putting money on the rookie head coach. A lot of Villanova’s success was due to Wright, and although Neptune may be good, it’s way too early to assume he can match the old master.

Wright was a great coach and very well respected. It will be sad to watch college basketball without him, but it’s nice to remember his successes. Regardless, Villanova will be in for an interesting season filled with a lot of questions about coaching, something they haven’t had to deal with since Wright took charge.

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