For Jay Wright and Villanova Basketball Team, Attitude is Everything

An unconventional focus on attitude and mental discipline has helped make Villanova the team to beat in all of college basketball. (via image GQ)

Obsessive media attention, rock star status and unrelenting expectations follow every step of Villanova’s defending NCAA champion basketball team, but Coach Jay Wright has for 16 years trained his players to keep the team at the center of everything. It’s a lesson about attitude that defies traditional basketball wisdom, according to a GQ feature by Larry Platt.

When Wright first arrived at Villanova in 2001, he was still developing that strategy.

“Maybe, he thought, the difference is attitude,” the article recounted. “If his guys could learn to be unaffected by the last play and to play for one another rather than for the adulation from the stands, maybe they could get out of their own way.”

Today, it defines the Villanova basketball philosophy: “Players play for their teammates and coaches; actors play for the crowd.”

Wright spends as much time coaching mental discipline and team-centric attitude as he does game strategy.

“There is a different kind of coaching going on here,” the article explained. “By all appearances, Villanova has no business being — as Wright has made it — the most dominant team in the nation over the past three years. In the era of the one-and-done collegiate career, whereby 18-year-olds spend a year as rent-a-students auditioning for the NBA, there’s something truly remarkable about Villanova.”

Read much more about what makes Wildcat basketball stand apart on GQ here.

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