The last time Villanova earned a Number 1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament, Jay Wright and his highly touted 2002 recruiting class were in the midst of a renaissance of sorts for a storied program who, before their tenure, hadn't made it past the first weekend of the Tournament since 1988. That year, led by seniors Allan Ray and Randy Foye, the Wildcats earned their first #1 Seed in program history en route to tying for the Big East regular season Championship. A-Ray, who sits at seventh in Villanova's all-time scoring leaders and 6th in Serie A in this year's scoring leaders, sits down with Big East Coast Bias for a glimpse into what goes into a player's mind in preparing for the NCAA Tournament and a #1 Seed.
BECB: Villanova just received their second NCAA Tournament #1 Seed in program history. You were a senior captain and an All-American the last time ‘Nova earned a number one-seed. What goes through a player’s mind on Selection Sunday as you’re waiting for the results?
Allan Ray: On selection Sunday it's just chaos going through your mind because you have no idea where you will be seeded, where you will be playing and who you will be playing against.
BECB: As a senior leader, the 2005-06 Wildcats looked to you as a leader on and off the floor, what advice would you give JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono help guide this team to a run into the second or third weekend of the Tournament?
Allan Ray: Man, you just have to keep everyone calm because there's going to be so much media attention and fans telling you how great you are. They have to keep the team focused and not get distracted by the hype. Also, it's very important to be humble and not cocky because anything can happen in the tourney. You can't underestimate anyone.
BECB: What similarities do you see between your team in ’06 and the current Wildcats’ team?
A-Ray: Man, the thing that sticks out to me the most is the heart these guys play with. When I played, we always played with heart. That was our foundation doing whatever it takes to win. Being better physically and especially mentally.
BECB: What would you say are the current Wildcats’ greatest strengths and weaknesses?
A-Ray: I think Nova’s greatest strengths are outside shooting and intensity/effort. As for their biggest weakness, it is hard to say, but maybe they are TOO balanced.
BECB: What are you most proud of from your career at Villanova?
A-Ray: What I'm most proud of, honestly, is being part of a team that brought Villanova back to being a highly touted program. Kids want to play at 'Nova now. Everyone wants to go to Guard University. For me, it is seeing teams go to the Final Four, win Big East Championships, get number-1 seeds, lose two games all season. That makes me feel great, knowing that I helped pave the way for these great teams that came after me.
BECB: Any predictions for this year’s Tournament?
A-Ray: Oh yeah. I am calling a Villanova-Kentucky National Championship. My good friend Julius Hodge who went to NC State, thinks they can beat ‘Nova. If NC State can get past LSU, I want ‘Nova to smash NC State. He's been talking all year.
Allan Ray is currently the most veteran player and leading scorer on Granolo Bologna. He currently sits at 6th in the top Italian League, Serie A in scoring and a young Bologna team finds themselves in position to take the 8th and final playoff spot after being predicted to finish next to last in the preseason. You can check up on the Serie A season here.