Opponent: Villanova University Wildcats / Est. 1842 / Villanova, PA / Enrollment(UG) 6,300 / BIG EAST
Ranking: AP- 4 | ESPN- 5
All-time Series: Friars 34 | Wildcats 50
Location: The Wachovia Center [21,600] Philadelphia, PA
Date: Saturday February, 13
Coverage: ESPN U
What you should know about the Wildcats: The Wildcats come into the game with only one BIG EAST loss, to Georgetown. They are an impressive 21-2 overall and have a lot of young talent. Granted the Wildcats have just begun the first difficult part of their schedule this year, however, they are a legitimate power this year. As always Jay Wright has the cats playing guard heavy in his one-in four-out offense, which has been working out just fine for them. Antonia Pena is showing improvement and works well as the big down low. Highly touted freshman Mouph Yarou, has been less than impressive in the limited time he has received, but the other freshman have been playing well.
The key to the Wildcats is Scottie Reynolds. Reynolds is not overly impressive with his athleticism, or jumping ability. At 6’2″ he has decent for a point guard, but where he will get you is with his basketball IQ. Of course we all know about his SAT Scores, but on the court he is a clever player. He pushes the ball in transition and creates opportunities for his teammates. He also draws a lot of fouls. Granted most of them he is actually the one committing the foul by leaping into a defender or going lowering his shoulder to drive into them on breaks, but to his credit he knows what calls he can get and he gets them. He is a very talented outside shooter and gets the big shots when the team needs them.
The rest of the threats, and there are a lot, are capable of having a big night every night. There is Corey Fisher, whose game can be a little rough around the edges at times, but can light up the scoreboard. Like Reynolds he can drive and create, and is really great in transition. Sorey Stokes can stroke the three and has added other dimensions to his game. Duke transfer Taylor King can also play inside and out, and has great range on his three. Pena has been doing a nice job replacing Dante Cunningham, but after him the big man options are questionable. Sutton and Yarou not that impressive, and while Armwood has shown flashes, he is undersized and still has a way to go. The freshman that do impress; however, are Maalik Wayns and Dom Cheek. They both have good nights and bad, but those two have a lot of potential.
PFB Perspective: Yet another game against a top opponent. Villanova is a very good team with a lot of scoring options, and considering we really aren’t into defense… it could be a long game. But than again we could hang tight, we did against Georgetown. If we were to hang tight this is what would need to happen:
1. We would need to work the ball inside and out. Too often in the Georgetown game we didn’t explore our options penetrating and posting. We just dribbled around the perimeter. Georgetown ran over Villanova because they allowed their bigs down low do create wide open three point opportunities for the Hoya shooters; and the Hoya shooters had an absolute field day. Speaking size we match up with the Wildcats pretty decently. Size is something they are not big on (no pun intended). We can match up with their size, so we have to take advantage of working the ball inside to open up outside opportunities.
2. Rebounding and getting into transition. Villanova isn’t tall but they are scrappy on the boards. There rebounding numbers are just slightly below ours. But if we can clean up on the defensive glass and push the ball in transition we could stay in the game. Also Greedy was unable to get any monster put backs on the offensive glass, in large part due to Georgetown’s great size inside. Hopefully with the smaller Wildcat lineup he will be able to be himself on the boards.
3. Don’t foul. For anyone who sees Villanova play, it is a apparent that a large part of there offense comes from the charity strip. To their credit they know how to get the calls and will attack a player when he is out of position… and they are one of the best teams in the county in terms of free throw percentage. By not going for Scottie Reynold’s little pump fake and dive into the defenders body, and not bailing Corey Fisher out on tough transition conversions we should be able to keep the game relatively close. We need to play intelligently.
4. Last is protect the ball. Villanova likes to extend the pressure in the half court. Their guards will often pressure the dribbler well beyond the three point line. Our guards have to stay calm and collected and keep their head up looking for passes. When you bring that much pressure 35 to 40 feet from the basket their are people open underneath… we just need to find them and limit our dribbling. Turnovers will kill us.
I Bleed Blue and White