Villanova coach Jay Wright has coached in 23 NCAA Tournament games in his 20-year career as a Division I head coach. Unlike Jim Boeheim, he has a vivid memory of his first one. It was in the same place where he'll be coaching in Saturday night's third-round game -- Buffalo.
Back in 2000, the first year Buffalo hosted an NCAA subregional, Wright brought Hofstra to the tourney as a 14th seed. The Flying Dutchmen played Oklahoma State in the opening game. They lost, 86-66.
"My wife and I were riding over on the bus yesterday," Wright recalled Friday, "and it was the exact same snowy, lake-effect day. It was St. Patrick's Day. We got hammered in this building by Oklahoma State: Eddie Sutton, Big Country, Doug Gottlieb of all people! I heard Doug Gottlieb talking on TV yesterday about somebody's shooting. He couldn't make a foul shot in that game."
Actually, Big Country Reeves wasn't on that Cowboys squad, but what the heck, Wright was on a roll.
"We had Speedy Claxton at Hofstra," Wright said. "He was a great guard. They were big and physical. They had a two-guard (Desmond Mason) who went to the NBA. Speedy came off a ball screen early and ran over to me at the bench and his finger was like that (Wright bent his little finger on a 90-degree angle). I was like, 'Oh, we're dead now.' They re-set it, but they hammered us.
"I think Bobby Knight played his last game with Indiana here, too, that same night. it was amazing."
True. Indiana lost to a Pepperdine team coach by Jan van breda Kolff, which is another story.
"We got hammered, but it was a little different then," Wright said. "We were still happy. We got hammered, we were happy to be here. We got hammered, and we got hammered after the game. We were so happy to be here."