Knicks’ Villanova trio get bid of confidence from former college coach

Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (12) drives the lane against New York Knicks guards Donte DiVincenzo (0) and Josh Hart (3) and Jalen Brunson (11) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Villanova head coach Jay Wright is high on the New York Knicks’ championship chances this season. The former collegiate coach of Knicks stars Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart believes that the trio can help the team get past some of the heavy hitters in the Eastern Conference.

Knicks: Jay Wright believes he’s right about Villanova trio’s chances to wage a Finals run

Wright went on USA Today’s “Sports Seriously” show and had this to say to host Tony Anderson about watching his former players vie for a ring, per Fan Nation’s Geoff Maglioccheti:

“It’s cool when you see a night where all three of them score in double figures and the Knicks get a win and they’re contending,” Wright said. “I think they’ve got a great shot in the East to play for an NBA championship.” 

“Obviously, they’ve got to get to get by the (Boston) Celtics and Milwaukee (Bucks) but I think they’re going to play good enough basketball and playoff basketball to do it.”

All three guards will be instrumental in the Knicks’ success come April. Brunson leads the charge for New York with 27.2 points per game. When he’s on the floor, the Knicks win more often than not. When he’s absent from the lineup, with or without their plethora of injuries, the Knicks are not as successful.

Former Wildcats Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Hart will be big for the Knicks’ depth come playoff time

DiVincenzo has been on Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s good side for much of the season. He seized the starting shooting guard role from Quentin Grimes early in the year and has upped his game with Julius Randle and OG Anunoby out, averaging 21.7 points per game on 37.4% shooting from deep since Jan. 29.

Hart has also taken advantage of being in the starting lineup amidst the Knicks’ injury plague. He’s put up a double-double of 13.4 points, 11 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in the same stretch.

Once the Knicks return to full strength, the elevated play of all three will be crucial to their playoff hopes. Brunson and Randle have proven to be high-end scorers, though the latter tends to taper off in postseason play.

Having valued scorers next to them will help New York battle dry spells in games and keep up with the formidable offensive attacks that the Celtics and Bucks present.

Wright knows his guys better than most. He coached Brunson and Hart to two NCAAM tournament championships and DiVincenzo to one.

The 62-year-old head coach is sure that they’ll deliver this time around and is enjoying their success along the way.

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