NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Dominic Cheek #23 of the Villanova Wildcats drives to the hoop against the South Florida Bulls during the first round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Welcome to our 2011 Villanova basketball season preview. We're going to be previewing a player per day from here on out - which will take us right up to the first exhibition game against New York Tech. Today, we preview junior Dominic Cheek.
As Villanova opens the 2011-2012 season unranked for the first time, we as fans really don't know what to expect. And on a team with many question marks, the biggest one for me is what are we going to get out of Dom Cheek this year. Rumors of a possible transfer surfaced over the summer, but lucky for us, Cheek decided to stay.
Those of you that have read this blog in the past know that I have always been a big supporter of his game, almost to a fault (Editor's Note: Cheek is commonly referred to as 'Trask's Boy'). But this is a make or break year for Cheek and he quite possibly could be the X factor that pushes this team into the second weekend of the tournament or holds the Cats back and leaves them struggling to find an identity in the half court offense.
After The Jump, I'll talk about why this is his breakout year.
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While he has been frustrating, Cheek has been a contributor since day one on the Main Line. The talent is undeniable; again I will reiterate that while its possible to whiff on a highly touted recruit, Cheek was quite possibly the best recruit ever to come to Villanova. He has all the physical tools but has been plagued by inconsistant play and a short leash over the years. Coming into this season, he is the clear cut front runner to claim the starting 2 guard spot and will have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth.
Cheek has always been a plus defensive player. He can guard 3 positions on the perimeter and has the speed and length to make game breaking plays in transition and in the half court. His offense has been impressive in spurts and he actually got off to a quick start last year before going ice cold (not unlike the majority of his teammates). Cheek will be the guy to watch early in the season and I think a weak schedule could help him build the confidence he needs.
The biggest key to his success will be how he and Coach Wright interact. I think it is absolutely crucial that this guy is a double digit scorer for this team to have any success this year and it should be a priority in the early going to give him every chance to build his confidence. Our best perimeter offense will be if we can get Dom and James Bell on the court at the same time. If Jay tries to play them against each other and make them compete for minutes, I think its possible that neither of them give us anything close to their potential.
While Maalik is capable of scoring 20 a game this season, if he actually does, this team is in trouble. While it doesn't have to be Dominic Cheek that steps up, I still believe. He has supposedly had a productive off season and has grown into a leader. Now its time to see if he is one of those guys who has taken that big leap between their sophomore and junior seasons or if he is just another guy overhyped by the AAU circuite and recruiting blogs. Villanova's season very well could depend on it.
What are your expectations for Cheek this year? Can he finally realize his potential and help keep the Wildcats among the Big East elite?
When we're back tomorrow, we'll preview Maurice Sutton.
Previous player previews:
- Dallas Ouano & Nick McMahon
- Achraf Yacoubou
- Darrun Hilliard
- Ty Johnson
- Markus Kennedy
- JayVaughn Pinkston
- James Bell