Archive | March, 2014

Eagles Badly Mishandled Release of DeSean Jackson

30 Mar

 

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

 

Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been contacted by several teams since he was cut by the team on Friday.

Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been contacted by several teams since he was cut by the team on Friday.

PHILADELPHIA—In the previous column on DeSean Jackson’s unceremonious release from the Eagles, I refrained from outright criticizing the team’s handling of this situation because I wanted to hear it from them rather than rely on second-hand information or the speculation from other publications.

Instead of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly addressing the issue head-on and honestly, they chose not talk to the media that covers the team. Their silence allowed a NJ.com story to portray Jackson as a thug with ties to a Los Angeles street gang so they could come up with a convenient justification to cut him and not have to pay him.

The Los Angeles Police Department told the Philadelphia Daily News that they have never accused Jackson of being in a gang nor has he been tied to a crime committed by someone in a gang.

In aftermath of his release from the Eagles and the criminal implications that came with it, Jackson released a statement denying any involvement in gang activity:

“I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values.”

By not addressing the media, the Eagles not only put themselves in a position to be possibly sued by Jackson for defamation of character, they have created a public relations nightmare with their fans in the African-American community who see this as the team appealing to an ugly stereotype of Black men so they can justify releasing him.

On Facebook and Twitter, some African-American sports fans are wondering how is it that Riley Cooper can get away with making a racist remark while Jackson can get cut from the team for merely being suspected of having ties to a gang.

To be clear, I don’t believe Jeffrey Lurie or the Eagles organization is racist given their years of community involvement in a city that is mostly Black and Latino. Over the years, Lurie has been an owner who has more than shown that he is sensitive on issues pertaining to race.

How they’ve handled the “divorce” from their former star receiver was petty and underhanded. I can understand that Kelly and Roseman may not have liked Jackson’s attitude and felt that the former Cal star probably didn’t fit into the kind of the team that they wanted. If you don’t want a guy on your team, then cut him and be honest about why you did it.

Trying to tie Jackson to a gang, vilifying him as a person and possibly tainting his character is not a way to do business. It makes the team looks like they’re trying to run him out of the league for daring to act like a diva and wanting more money. That’s the only “crime” that Jackson committed here.

You can argue that Jackson shouldn’t have been tripping over his contract and moaning about it a day after your team was eliminated from the playoffs. It’s not like he was coming off like Terrell Owens in 2005 who divided the team in his efforts to get management to renegotiate his contract.

Outside of a being a bit of a diva, Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. His ability to stretch the defense made it possible for guys like Cooper, tight end Zach Ertz and running back LeSean McCoy to have career years.

With teams now clamoring for his services, Jackson’s release from Eagles is like the old African-American trickster tale of Brer Fox throwing Brer Rabbit into the briar patch. In other words, Jackson might have gotten the better end of the deal.

Now, the Birds have to find a receiver in the draft that better be as good as Jackson or they are going to struggle offensively and the fan base will not be happy. If the starting wide receiver becomes a weakness in this offense in 2014, Eagles fans will blame management for this debacle for years to come.

In street parlance the way the Eagles dealt with Jackson’s release was just downright “ratchet” and classless. Yes, the NFL is a cold-hearted business and players get cut all the time. But you don’t have to disparage a person’s character and rub their nose in it in the process.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eagles Cut DeSean Jackson for Alleged Gang Ties and Bad Attitude

29 Mar

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Several teams are reportedly interested in former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.

Several teams are reportedly interested in former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.

PHILADELPHIA—After a month of shopping him around and apparently finding no takers, the Eagles cut ties with wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Friday.
As of this point, no one in Eagles management is saying anything to the media about why they parted ways with the former Cal star, but the speculation on social media as to why Jackson was cut is blowing up the internet.

NJ.com reported that the Eagles were troubled by his off-field behavior and alleged affiliation with a gang before the team officially released him. It was also reported that Jackson didn’t have good chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly, was missing meetings and his friends were having a negative influence on his life.

ESPN.com reported that team owner Jeffrey Lurie, Kelly, and general manager Howie Roseman discussed the situation with the team’s lawyers and concluded that cutting him was the best option.

Shortly after Jackson was cut and received the word that NJ.com had written a story about his reported gang ties, he released a statement and said: “I am not a gang member.”
For the record, Jackson has never been arrested or linked to a crime. There are photos on Google Images of the former Eagles receiver posing in pictures flashing a gang sign.
Two days earlier at the NFL Owners meetings in Orlando, Kelly told the Philadelphia media that he liked Jackson and thought he did a good job for the team in 2013. On Tues, Jackson said he had a phone conversation with Kelly and came away with the impression that he was going to be staying with the Eagles.

But you have to wonder why a team would cut a 27-year-old receiver coming off the best season of his career and get nothing for him? The Eagles are also taking a $6 million salary cap hit.
Granted, it didn’t help things when Jackson talked about deserving to his contract renegotiated at his locker a day after the Eagles lost a playoff game to the New Orleans Saints. During a loss to the Minnesota Vikings in December, Jackson got into an argument with the team’s receivers coach on the sidelines.
With his reported ties to LA street gangs, the Eagles see getting rid of Jackson as their way of protecting their brand which means they think that Jackson must have done something or is involved with something egregious enough to warrant his departure.
As a journalist, I am not going to make any judgments of the team or Jackson until we hear from all the parties involved. I would rather have the facts before I lean either way on this issue. That the team was willing to take the salary cap hit does speak volumes on the urgency they had in unloading Jackson.
Another thing to look at here is how quickly Jackson lands with another team. Jackson’s agent Joel Segal said six teams called him 30 minutes after his client was released by the Eagles. Carolina head coach Ron Rivera told USA Today that he was interested in Jackson.

If Jackson signs with another team before the end of the weekend or the end of the week, then maybe his issues aren’t compelling enough to keep him out of the league. Teams that need a good, speedy wideout like the New York Jets or the San Francisco 49ers will be glad to have him if he doesn’t have too much baggage.

At this point, Eagles fans want an answer from Kelly and Roseman for why the team let their best wide receiver go for absolutely nothing. Was Jackson that big of a jerk and a disruption to team chemistry? Was his reported gang affiliation that troubling to the team?
More importantly, can the Eagles find a comparable replacement or better to make up for Jackson’s production that can play right away?

 

Love and Chip-Hop: Will DeSean Jackson Stay with the Eagles?

27 Mar

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said he likes DeSean Jackson. The team was field offers for the Birds speedy wide out. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said he likes DeSean Jackson. The team was field offers for the Birds speedy wide out. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Watching the battle between the Philadelphia Eagles and disgruntled wide receiver DeSean Jackson has me shaking my head in incredulous disbelief.

(Cue soap opera music) In the latest episode of the reality series, “Love and D-Jax” (or “Chip-Hop Divas”) it was reported that Jackson spoke with Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly and was told to not worry about anything and to come back  ready to work in April’s minicamps.

At NFL Owner’s meetings in Orlando, Kelly expressed his affection for Jackson,  acknowledged that he had a great season and then followed it up by reminding folks that this is still a business.

“DeSean did a nice job for us,” Kelly told reporters on Wednesday. “But we’re always going to do what’s best for the organization.”
As you know by now, published reports had the Eagles ready to give Jackson his release from the team if they couldn’t get anything for him in a trade. Jackson was as good as gone.

DeSean Jackson says he wants to stay with the Birds.

DeSean Jackson says he wants to stay with the Birds.

According to a story on Philly.com, a Las Vegas casino has even put odds on Jackson’s fate with the Eagles. The current odds are even money that Jackson stays, 6-4 that he’s traded and 7-2 that he gets released. Ladies and Gentlemen, dig deep in your pockets and place your bets.

The questions that keep boggling my mind as this whole thing unfolds are  did  anyone in the Eagles organization really think this thing through? And If you send Jackson on his merry way who you gonna get to replace him?
After he had a career year in which caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns, what did Jackson do to offend Eagles management to the point that they are thinking about getting rid of him for the equivalent of magic beans?

Let’s face it, Jackson’s ability to stretch the field kept teams from employing eight guys in the box to defend running back LeSean McCoy and he also opened things up for wide outs like Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and tight ends like Zach Ertz to probe the middle of the field.

With the recent acquisition of versatile running back Darren Sproles, you would think that Jackson’s presence would make the Eagles offense even scarier to opposing defenses than it was last season.

Jackson, who is slated to receive $10.5 million this year, has been rumbling about wanting to renegotiate his contract, saying that he deserves it. From what I understand, Kelly is not happy with Jackson and feels he’s a detriment to team chemistry, especially since he said he wanted to re-do his contract a couple of days after the team lost to the Saints.

It didn’t help that Jackson got into an argument with receivers coach Bob Bicknell during the Eagles road loss to the Vikings a few weeks earlier.

It remains to be seen, especially in light of this recent public display of affection, if the Eagles management will still go ahead and send Jackson packing either by trade or release. Everybody in this business is always looking for the bigger and better deal.

But if they’re going to do that, you need somebody to take his place. I don’t believe that Cooper or Jeremy Maclin, who is coming off the second ACL injury of his career, is able to impact opposing defenses the way Jackson has for the last few years.

I would like to think that the Eagles would trade up in the draft to pick up a Sammy Watkins (Clemson) or a Mike Evans (Texas A&M), USC’s Marquise Lee, or Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks. You would think they would find someone who can make an immediate impact on the offense.

Letting Jackson go and not having an equivalent replacement is just downright foolish on the Eagles’ part. You know what you have in Jackson and he did fit the offense from a football standpoint even if you’re not a fan of his diva-like petulance.

While Jackson did produce during the regular season, he got shut down by Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis in the playoffs. He caught three passes for 51 yards after Lewis left the game with an injury.

Two days after his team’s tough playoff loss to the Saints, Jackson was telling reporters that he deserved to be making more money did not help things for him.

If re-negotiating his contract was Jackson’s goal, complaining about his current deal in the media was not a good move from a strategic standpoint on his part. You definitely don’t do that after a playoff loss in which you didn’t play that well.

With the team acquiring a weapon like Sproles, there might be even more opportunities to produce even bigger numbers to make an even stronger case for the Eagles to give him a new deal.
You should always let your performance on the field speak for itself. That’s always the best bargaining tool rather than sniping about it in the media.

While I think Jackson wanting to restructure his deal is ill-timed, the Eagles apparent willingness to give him away for virtually nothing is equally disturbing. With the NFL Draft coming up, there might be a deal you could cut for Jackson so that you can get a receiver that’s ready to make an impact immediately.

If the Eagles let Jackson walk for nothing or they player they do get turns out to be a player of lesser talent than what they let go, Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman will have a lot of explaining to do to the fan base if the wide receiver position becomes a liability.

Don’t Look for the Eagles to Trade Jackson Anytime Soon

21 Mar

By Chris Murray

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson wants to renegotiate his contract his five-year, $48 million contract with the Eagles.

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson wants to renegotiate his contract his five-year, $48 million contract with the Eagles.

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—For all the talk during this free agency signing period about the Philadelphia Eagles wanting to maintain their chemistry, the question to be asked when it comes to team’s shopping of wide receiver DeSean Jackson is, can there be addition by subtraction?

According to media reports, the Eagles are listening to offers for Jackson, who wants to renegotiate his five-year, $48-million contract. The former Cal star said last January that he was deserving of a new deal.

You remember the last hotshot Eagles wide receiver who wanted to renegotiate his contract, right? It was some guy named Terrell Owens and we all know what happened with that. Not only did the Eagles not budge in that situation, but they also eventually showed Owens, and his agent Drew Rosenhaus, the door.

Maybe Jackson should talk to T.O.and his former agent Rosenhaus about that one.

But that said, Jackson is coming off a career year where he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. He fit Chip Kelly’s offense quite well, especially in the vertical passing game.

But one thing that you have to understand about the NFL is that every player, even the superstars, is expendable if you can find a good deal.  General managers like the Eagles’ Howie Roseman will tell you is that his office gets calls about players all the time.

As good as Jackson has been over the years with the Eagles, he is not above being replaced. No one is going to confuse him with Megatron (the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson), or is going to mention him in the same breath as the Larry Fitzgeralds, and Andre Johnsons of the world. Jackson is not the best route runner in the world and struggles at times against press coverage.

In fact, in the Eagles’ playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, Jackson was held in check by Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis before he left the game with an injury. Jackson caught just three passes for 53 yards.

But at the same time, if you’re going to get rid of Jackson, you’d better get somebody who is ready to start at wide receiver right now either through free agency or the draft.

The current free agent pool is slim at wide receiver right now. The most notable guy out there now is Dallas Cowboys free agent Miles Austin, who was battling injuries all last season and hasn’t really lived up to the promise of a few years back.

The best wide receiver in the draft is Clemson star Sammy Watkins, who is projected to be a high first-round pick.  If you’re going to unload Jackson, you might want to make a deal to be able to draft Watkins, who caught 101 passes last season and had a monster 16-catch effort against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

Another possibility is Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans. The six-foot-five, 223-pound receiver runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and has the potential with his size and hands to be a nightmare for opposing defenses in red-zone situations. He caught 65 passes for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Eagles would probably have to trade up in the draft to get Evans as well and Jackson would probably be part of that deal.

But you know what? It ain’t gonna happen.

According to most reports that I’ve seen, Jackson’s $10.5 million annual salary is the thing that’s making teams a little squeamish about pulling the trigger on a trade for the 27-year-old wide receiver. The New York Jets, New England Patriots and the San Francisco have reportedly made calls, but nothing really serious.

So Jackson’s probably staying put for the time being.

The Eagles have to hope that Jackson’s grumbling over his contract doesn’t escalate to the point to where he’s a distraction. Trading him only makes sense if you’re going to get something of equal or greater value. Since no one in the league is trying to do that.

If I were advising him, I would tell Jackson to chill and concentrate on improving upon last season and then seeing what can be worked out.  More importantly, I’d advise him to avoid trying to “negotiate” with the Eagles in the media by griping about it constantly….

‘Cuz that’s a battle you ain’t gonna win….

Just ask your boy T.O…..

 

 

Former Temple Women’s Star Living a Dream with the Harlem Globetrotters

13 Mar

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Former Temple point guard Fatima Maddox in enjoying the spotlight as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Former Temple point guard Fatima  “TNT ” Maddox in enjoying the spotlight as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Ever since she started playing basketball, former Temple women’s basketball star Fatima Maddox has always dreamed of being a professional basketball and showing off her skills.

During her college days at Temple, Maddox played point guard for then head coach and Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Dawn Staley, leading the Owls to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and an Atlantic-10 title in 2006.

After Temple, Maddox played professionally in Sweden for a few years. In 2012, Maddox’s pro hoop dreams became even bigger than she imagined when got a tryout with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters and became the first woman to make the team since 1993.

“I get a phone call to try-out for the Globetrotters and I’m like, ‘Are women allowed on that team?’” Maddox said. “I showed up with no expectations, not really knowing what to expect and it worked out for me … I ended up making it and I’ve been living a dream ever since.”

Now known as “TNT”, Maddox is having the time of her life as a Globetrotter, entertaining the crowd with slick ball-handling skills reminiscent of legendary Globetrotter Fred “Curly” Neal. The former Temple guard was in town for their show at the Wells Fargo last weekend.

As much fun as Maddox is having on the basketball court, the most meaningful part to her as she plays with the ‘Trotters around the country and around the world is the chance she gets to interact with fans on and off the court, especially the kids.

“This gives me a chance to do so much more off the court as well as on the court as far as charities,” she said. “We go to a lot of schools and we do a lot of school visits. “It’s been rewarding for me. Now I visit hospitals with sick kids. I visit schools. It takes everything that I’m about and intertwines it.”

During the Globetrotters recent visit to the Wells Fargo Center, Maddox participated in all the famed Globetrotter antics, the famous weave play, the pre-game circle, hidden ball tricks and she did her signature sliding dribble plays and twirling and spinning the basketball on her fingers.

“I like the slide dribble that I do and so I break that out whenever I can,” Maddox said. “I’ve always been good at dribbling and that adds a little something to it.”

Maddox said Curly Neal has been one of her biggest fans at watching her perform his old moves on the court.

“(Neal) is so encouraging. He’s a legend,” she said. “He tells I’m doing a good job. He’s always encouraging me to get better, so I hoping I’m making him proud.”

When she wasn’t on the floor and playing with her teammates, Maddox was in the crowd hugging the kids and giving them an opportunity to come on the floor with the Globetrotters. That aspect of being a Globetrotter seemed to make her big smile light up even more.

“The smiles on those kids faces, those are priceless,” Maddox said. “If I can bring joy to somebody by doing something I love to do. That’s the fun part for me. It’s been awesome, it really has been.”

As the lone woman on the team, Maddox has held her own with the guys and has earned a great deal of respect from her male cohorts.

“TNT is amazing. … She’s one of the best ball-handlers on the team,” said Chris “Handles” Franklin. “It’s not like she’s a gimmick. She can really play basketball. She can dribble. She can shoot. She can do it all.”

“Most importantly, she’s an inspiration to all the women out there. She show’s you that you can do anything you want when you put your mind to it, “ Franklin said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malcolm in the Middle: New Eagles Safety Says He’s a Playmaker

13 Mar

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and Philadelphia Sunday Sun

New Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins takes a few questions from reporters during his press conference on Wednesday.

New Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins takes a few questions from reporters during his press conference on Wednesday.

PHILADELPHIA—Ever since the team released legendary safety Brian Dawkins after the 2008 season, no one playing in the back end of the Birds secondary has struck fear in the hearts of opposing receivers or tight ends.

In bars and social media chat rooms, Eagles fans reminisce about the “good old days” when Dawkins intimidated opposing pass catchers with his physical play.  Birds fans still have fond memories of the vicious hit Dawkins leveled on then-Atlanta Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler in the NFC title game.

That was 10 years ago and since Dawkins left the team, opposing receivers have roamed the Eagles secondary without fear of violent retribution from Birds safeties.

With the signing of former New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, who will apparently start at free safety position, the Birds have made a significant improvement on what they’ve had in the last couple of years.  He signed a three-year deal reportedly worth $16.25 million, $8.5 million is guaranteed.

If anything else, the six-foot, 204-pound Jenkins comes in with a solid reputation in terms of his work ethic and leadership.  He was the Saints team captain on defense for the last two seasons, a position he earned because he was respected by his teammates. From 2009 to 2013, he had 358 total tackles (275 solo), 4.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, six interceptions with a pair of touchdowns.

“He has been a productive football player his entire football career, both in New Orleans and at Ohio State,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. “Everything you hear about Malcolm as a person is true. We are excited to add a guy like that to the culture we’ve established here.”

Watching a few snippets of him on film, Jenkins is certainly a better hitter than what the Eagles have had in their secondary for the last five to six years. He can also make plays defending passes.

“We really liked Malcolm’s versatility,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “He can line up at either safety spot, can come in and make a tackle and can play man-to-man as well.”

Jenkins said he chose to come to the Eagles because he felt the Birds defensive scheme under defensive coordinator Billy Davis was an ideal fit for his abilities as a safety.

“That was one of the big questions. I wanted to know how they were going to use me,” Jenkins said. “They loved the fact that I was versatile. I can go in the slot, I can cover tight ends and blitz. I’m smart enough to take on a lot and be the leader in the back end and get guys lined up, digest the playbook and be the quarterback of the defense.”

Jenkins doesn’t come without issues. The website, Pro Football Focus.com, which tracks football statistics, rated him as the worst safety in the game in 2012. The website also said quarterbacks have posted a 96.3 passer rating against when teams target him in the passing game.

Pro Football Focus also said Jenkins also has a penchant for missing tackles. He has the dubious distinction of being one of three safeties to miss 20 tackles in 2013.

“I can’t really tell you that, but I think I’ve made a bunch of plays, game-changing plays in my career,” Jenkins said when asked about the rating from Pro Football Focus. “I think everybody has something to prove. If you were to ask me one of things I need to improve I would say tackling.

“I think that’s only happened over the last couple of seasons and that has to do with change of scheme and change of positions. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem going forward.”

Jenkins said he’s not the second coming of Brian Dawkins, but believe he’s going to make a splash with what he brings to the table.

“I think what the fans want is that play-making safety-whether it be from a big hit or from interceptions,” Jenkins said. “You want that safety that takes control of the defense, be a leader and make plays.”

Big East Regular-Season Champ Villanova Ready for March Madness

9 Mar

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

(from left to right) Villanova senior guard Tony Chennault, head coach Jay Wright and freshman forward Darryl  Reynolds salute the crowd after Saturday's win over Georgetown in the regular-season finale. Photo by Webster  Riddick.

(from left to right) Villanova senior guard Tony Chennault, head coach Jay Wright and freshman forward Darryl Reynolds salute the crowd after Saturday’s win over Georgetown in the regular-season finale. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA –In years past winning the Big East regular-season title guaranteed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

But in this bizarre new world of conference-switching to accommodate football, the newly, reconfigured Big East is not going to get the kind of juice it once got in the NCAA Tournament. Some RPI services have the new Big East rated as the fourth-rated conference in the nation.

Nevertheless, Big East regular-season champion Villanova head coach Jay Wright has been more enamored with how well his team is playing at the most critical stretch of the season.

Since a home loss to conference-rival Creighton on Jan. 20th, the Wildcats have won 12 of their last 13 games coming into Thursday’s Big East quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The one loss in that stretch came at the hands of Creighton.

“They’re very mature,” Wright said. “These guys bring it every day in practice. I think that’s what’s been unique about them is that they are able to keep an intensity, regardless of the circumstances.”

As well as Villanova (28-3, 15-2)  has played throughout the regular season, more than a few college basketball observers are saying that things  have to fall the right way for the Wildcats to get the No. 1 seed in the Big Dance.

That said, Wright said he is not overly concerned about where his team is seeded in this year’s NCAA Tournament. It’s more about getting his team ready for the festivities in New York this week.

“I really don’t think there’s that much difference in playing between a one and a two,” Wright said. “Being considered up there is great, but no concern at all. We want to get fresh here going into the Big East Tournament. The Big East Tournament is fun, man.  I just want to concentrate on the Big East.”

That message is something that’s been filtered down to the Villanova players as they go about the process of getting ready for their trip to New York.

“Coach makes sure that it doesn’t gets to our heads,” said Wildcats junior guard Darrun Hilliard, who scored 19 points in Saturday’s win over Georgetown.  “We don’t really buy into it really.  All the coaches keep us humble and keep pushing us to get better.

“We’re going to hear it on all the social networks, TV. It is what it is. Today’s today and so tomorrow’s a new day. We have to keep moving forward and getting better.”

The one thing to like about this particular Villanova squad is that they are team that truly plays together and they have no one player standing out as a superstar. In their 77-59 victory over Georgetown in the regular-season finale, the Wildcats had five players scoring in double figures.

“They have several players on their team that would be the point player or the star on other teams. They got different people who can step up and control the ball. Their unselfishness is the key,” said Georgetown head coach John Thompson III. “At the offensive end, they are very unselfish team. They drive and kick it to the person that’s open and that person can make a shot.”

Four of the five players in Villanova’s starting lineup are averaging in double-figures. The Wildcat are led by six-foot-six senior guard/small forward James Bell, who averages 15 points and six rebounds per game. Junior forward JayVaugh Pinkston averages 14.4 per game while Hilliard scores 14.2 points per contest. Sophomore point guard Ryan Arcidiacono contributes with 10 points per game.

Even with his team playing well, Wright said his team can get better and is starting to play well on defense. The two losses to Creighton in which the Wildcats allowed 96 and 100 points respectively made them realize that they play well on defense.

“Our defense is definitely getting better and they’re taking more pride in it. The second Creight taught them that we’re a good offensive, but you’re not going to be beat the best team just scoring,” Wright said. “After we got beat the second time that woke them up. I think we can keep getting better and that’s the approach we’re going to take.”