Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Well-balanced Villanova starts a key stretch by continuing solid play

February 12, 2015 Columns No Comments

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Look at Villanova on paper, especially their numbers, and you might not see them as a powerhouse. Watch them play and you get a better idea of why this is the team to beat in the Big East, something they have re-asserted lately. Their 74-68 win at Providence on Wednesday night is the latest example of that.

Villanova doesn’t feature an All-America candidate or even an exceptional aggregate of talent. They aren’t a team full of seniors, though they are an experienced group. What they are is a well-coached group that knows how to play and has an edge. This team plays tough defense and has a well-balanced offense, one that takes what the defense gives them and shows great patience to break down a defense.

The Wildcat defense is even like the offense. They don’t have one guy who shuts down another player; they do it as a unit, forcing turnovers and holding teams’ shooting down often when they don’t. They don’t press, but they will selectively put pressure on a ball handler.

“When we’re good defensively, we’re good as a unit playing off of each other,” said head coach Jay Wright.

You saw how balanced this team is and how anyone can hurt you in the first half of Wednesday night. Early on, it was Darrun Hilliard who was supplying the offense, keeping Villanova right there while Providence led at times. Then Daniel Ochefu came into the game and got rebounds and dunks, including offensive boards, and was a tough matchup. Later, Ryan Arcidiacono, who was calmly running the show and getting others going, knocked down a couple of three-pointers, including one after just about every Providence defender had overloaded the left side of the floor while he was alone on the right wing waiting for a cross-court pass.

All of that set the stage for the second half, when the Wildcats broke the game open. At one point they went up 48-34, holding Providence without a field goal for several minutes.

“All of us captains kind of looked at each other and just said we have to turn this up defensively,” said Arcidiacono. “It wasn’t about the offense; the offense was coming, because we were getting stops defensively, and that’s where it all started.”

A big key to this team is Arcidiacono, one of the captains. Don’t look at his scoring or shooting numbers, though they tell you he is capable of scoring some points and that his jumper must be respected. Even looking at his sterling assist-to-turnover ratio doesn’t give you a full appreciation for him that you gain from watching them play. The junior knows when to slow it down or when to try to speed play up, and on Wednesday he seemed to be around the ball quite a bit, especially late in the game when he got a couple of key rebounds – his only ones of the night.

If Arcidiacono is the steady hand that guides this team, Ochefu is the one player on this team that could be seen as an X-factor. On Wednesday, he was really a game-changer in the first half. He scored ten points on 5-5 shooting and grabbed five rebounds, and he blocked a shot coming out of nowhere. A well-built and athletic big man, Ochefu had started every game until the last two, when Wright moved him to the bench due to an unspecified matter. Asked about it after Wednesday night, Wright seemed to indicate Ochefu has done what he needed.

“He’s good now,” said Wright. “It’s a simple thing, we talk about it all the time – it’s little things and we’re teaching. If it was bad, I wouldn’t play him. Starting is a privilege in our program, and it comes with more responsibility than anybody else has, so you’ve got to be held accountable.”

As important as those two are, however, they are far from alone. Hilliard doesn’t have “future NBA star” written all over him, but is a nice example of player development. Jayvaughn Pinkston is a tough matchup because of his size, athleticism and skill level. Dylan Ennis doesn’t stand out by himself, but is an indispensable part of what they do. Josh Hart, who had a flu bug but still contributed on Wednesday night, competes as hard as anyone.

Wednesday night was the beginning of a tough stretch for the Wildcats leading into the end of the regular season. Including this one, they have five of seven on the road, with this one and Saturday’s showdown at Butler key among those games, and in one of the two home games in this stretch they get a return visit from Providence. While they have recently re-asserted themselves as the team to beat in the conference, they have by no means sealed anything up. A win at Butler on Saturday would go a long way towards that, as it would mean they would have knocked off the top two challengers on the road.

Entering this stretch, Villanova has been on a roll. They bounced back from their worst outing of the season, a blowout loss at Georgetown, to play well, especially defensively. Wednesday night was the first time since then that an opponent topped 60 points against them, and it wasn’t enough to stop them from continuing to win.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a short stint in the top spot of the polls, some developments in the Mountain West Conference, and more of the ACC before closing with the Big East and Atlantic 10.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 24, 2016

December 24, 2016 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the great games Kentucky has been a part of lately. We go on to other ACC matters involving arch rivals, as well as some quick hits and a conference race that should be as good as expected.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a coaching legend reaching a milestone, the defending champs looking very good and continuing their winning ways close to home, and some off-court news during a light week of game action.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016 by

Early season tournaments are the focus in this episode, with a look at how strong a few Big East teams are out of the gate and how strong the ACC could be. Plus one SEC team had a big week outside the scope of tournaments.

Talking Hoops with Ted Sarandis – November 17, 2016

November 17, 2016 by

In our first edition of Talking Hoops with Ted Sarandis, we look at some of the early games and the impressions we can draw, as well as what we can expect over the course of the season.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.