Jay Wright saw it coming long before anyone. Saw that Villanova, less
than three years removed from going to the Final Four, less than two
seasons after being ranked No. 2 in the country at mid-season, was about
to hit hard times.

 

"I saw it coming the year before," said Wright,
whose 2012 Wildcats open the season Friday night vs. Division II
District of Columbia. "Not to the extent we struggled, which was because
of injuries. Even without them, I think we could've been only a little
better."

 

Instead, it turned out worse than anyone could have
imagined. After going 30-8, 25-8 and 21-12, the 'Cats tumbled to 13-19.
One player who has seen them topple from the heights to the depths is
stunned how quickly it can go wrong.

 

"It's crazy," said fifth-year
senior Maurice Sutton, who was red-shirt on that 2009 Final Four team.
"It's like cleaning your room and then tearing it up five minutes later.
We went away from our game. We didn't take it seriously."

 

The road
back won't be easy. Wright will blend three returning starters -- center
Mouphtaou Yarou, forward JayVaughn Pinkston and swingman James Bell --
with sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard, Sutton, Wake Forest transfer
Tony Chennault and freshman Ryan Arcidiacono. While no one expects them
to challenge in a loaded Big East that has Louisville (2) and Syracuse
(9) ranked among the elite, he feels they should be improved come March.

 

"We
have a lot of work to do, but I like the direction we're going," said
Wright. "I think -- I hope -- last year was a great learning lesson. As a
coach you know it [success is] fragile."

What that adds up to in terms of wins and losses is anyone's guess. But, after last year, anything figures to be an improvement.