This week was a big one for two longtime Big East coaches. Jay Wright hit 500 wins at Villanova when the Wildcats defeated Creighton on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Ed Cooley reached 300 career wins Saturday afternoon as Providence defeated St. John’s.
Wright sits behind only Jim Boeheim (846) and Jim Calhoun (629) in all-time wins for Big East coaches and is the win-leader at Villanova. He made his head coaching debut with Villanova on November 21, 2001, when the Wildcats defeated Grambling. Ricky Wright and Gary Buchanan lead Villanova in scoring as they pulled away in the second half and were nearly perfect from the free-throw line to seal the win.
Wright is a six-time Big East Coach of the Year award winner and a two-time Naismith Coach of the Year recipient. He has led Villanova to two national championships and either a regular-season or conference tournament championship every year since the realignment of the Big East.
When Ed Cooley was hired at Providence, the program had just two seasons above .500 in conference play in the previous decade. With a full decade under his belt with the Friars, Cooley has only finished below .500 against the Big East twice. Cooley’s tenure in Providence has included winning the first Big East tournament after the realignment in 2014, making five straight NCAA tournament appearances, and producing an NBA lottery pick in Kris Dunn. In 2020, Cooley made program history by defeating every Big East opponent in one season and set a school record with 12 Big East wins.
Ed Cooley’s 300th career win was also his 208th at Providence. With the victory, he now sits one game behind the legendary Dave Gavitt for second place in program history.
After the game, Cooley thanked his family through tears for their support on his way to this milestone. “It’s amazing, I never saw this coming,” said the eleventh-year Providence head coach. “The percentages say you’re not supposed to be sitting here.”
Jay Wright added to his tally with win number 501 at DePaul on Saturday, and he’ll look for 502 Wednesday night at Xavier. Ed Cooley will seek to tie the Big East’s first commissioner on Tuesday night at Creighton.