Villanova's Brunson named AP Player of Year

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Villanova's Brunson named AP Player of Year

Loyola plays MI in the first semifinal at the Alamodome. "It's going to take time".

"He's not afraid to look bad, he's not afraid to fail", Wright said earlier this week. "But he hasn't played against the national player of the year". But it will be one of the big storylines in San Antonio.

"It's written on my wall", Brunson said of being an All-American and player of the year in a recent interview with the AP.

Sedrick Barefield hit six 3s and scored 22 points for second-seeded Utah (23-12). It's not exactly a ready-made, tale-of-the-tape sort of clash.

For one, Graham (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and Brunson (6-3, 190) are viewed as nearly completely different players. They develop as players and as young men in their time at Villanova. That includes the way they've been preparing for this weekend's monster matchup. They are the top seed in the East Regional.

At some point on Saturday, Brunson will sense an offensive possession stagnating, clear out the left side of the court, turn his body away from Graham on the left block and show an audience of millions that the point guard who does it all has the best post game in the building. "It's not comparable. But he's been trying".

Villanova Coach Jay Wright shared a moment with the Rev. Rob Hagan, the team's chaplain, on the TD Garden court after Sunday's 71-59 win over Texas Tech. I just knew that the more team success that we had, the individual honors would come. "So you watch them and you get to see the moves that he likes to do and, when he posts up, what he likes to do. So I'll definitely look at that a little bit more".

"With Jalen, that's what he does in the game", Moore explained. "He wants me to be the best player I can be (and) once I figured out the difference between him being a father and him being a coach, life became a lot easier". I thought they demanded fouls on their end. "So he's built for it and ready". "Aundre is at the top of the list with that", Loyola coach Porter Moser said. After the win over Texas Tech, Brunson was crowned the East Region's Most Outstanding Player.

Above all, Brunson has a knack for making the right decision at the right time.

"We've all switched off on it", Brunson said. "Even I had to do it. Collin (Gillespie), Donte (DiVincenzo), myself, Phil (Booth)". Devonte's a really hard player to emulate.

But a fifth team has firmly crashed the field: Villanova. And it had everything to do with maximizing reps. "And just soaking it in", Wright said afterward, before attempting to answer with a laugh. "And if you have a guy sitting out, they're not as involved". They communicate, both on the floor and in the locker room. But we can't make this about their one-on-one battle because Kansas is a ridiculously good team.

"You're kind of saying, why us?" But more than anything, Brunson's talent as a leader is to say it without having to say it: Follow me. "He's unbelievably poised and he knows how to get his own shot and get shots for others". On one of the biggest possessions of the game, late in the second half, there was Brunson going to work down low on Keenan Evans for what was more or less a game-sealing bucket.

"There's really no similarities between (my game and his)", said Rick. "His IQ is just real high and he plays off of that". You've had a great career so far. "There's a lot. There really is. I think that's their identity".

Brunson took on that role freshman year, and thanks to Kris Jenkins' buzzer-beater, Villanova won it all. "Great leaders. And you can tell their teammates really respect them".

That fact has been true with Graham throughout his KU career. The Wildcats had just beaten DePaul for their third 100-point scoring performance of the season.

Here are five reasons to believe the Villanova Wildcats will defeat the Kansas Jayhawks in the Final Four Saturday night. "I've never seen such a refined player in high school". "That's the only thing I ever worry about. Two of the best of the best playing against each other".

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