Record last season: 20-14 (Conf: 10-8)
Postseason: Lost in Round 2 of NCAA tournament
Coach: Jay Wright
Coach’s record at school: 257-144
Offensive efficiency: 103.6 (117th in the country)
Defensive efficiency: 91.6 (23rd in the country)
Returnees: Ryan Arcidiacono (11.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.5 APG), JayVaughn Pinkston (13.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG), Darrun Hilliard (11.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG), James Bell (8.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG), Tony Chennault (3.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG), Daniel Ochefu (3.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
Notable losses: Mouphtaou Yarou (9.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG), Maurice Sutton (3.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG), Achraf Yacoubou (2.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG)
Newcomers: Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart, Darryl Reynolds
G: Ryan Arcidiacono
G: Darrun Hilliard
F: James Bell
F: JayVaughn Pinkston
C: Daniel Ochefu
The Villanova Wildcats were not supposed to compete in the Big East in the way that they did last year. And they certainly weren’t expected to make the NCAA tournament – especially after the first month of the season. Nonetheless, Coach Wright guided the ship to a better path after a rocky November and got his squad to compete with the best in the Big East on a nightly basis, which included multiple victories over top 10 teams (including Louisville and Syracuse in the same week).
Now he welcomes two high profile recruits (Jenkins and Hart) to go along with a sound foundation of players that includes four starters from last year (Arcidiacono, Hilliard, Bell and Pinkston). The squad should continue to play good defense, but their offense will need to improve if they are to compete for a Big East championship. Last year the Wildcats ranked a less than mediocre 233rd in the nation in effective field goal % (47.3), 238th in two point % (46.0) and 208th in three point % (33.2). However, they were the best team in the country at getting to the foul line. The only area they struggled on the defensive end was the opponent’s three point %.
With the returning continuity along with the influx of talent, it seems reasonable to expect this team to get better at shooting the ball, improve their three point defense, while still getting to the free throw line on a regular basis (mainly due to Pinkston being a constant matchup problem), which should mean a better record and finish than last year. The talent is there (especially in the one-two punch of Arcidiacono and Pinkston) and filling the void at center left by Yarou with Ochefu (with assistance from Jenkins, Hart Reynolds, and even Pinkston) looks doable, but it’s all about improvements and executing.
Projected Big East finish: 6th