For a team that seemingly didn’t care for the past 2 years, this Villanova squad must be a breath of fresh air for fans and students alike. From the first 3 games of the young season, the defense has been scrappy and persistent, and the recruits have been better than advertised.
If you haven’t heard by now, freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacano is a budding star, scoring 20 points in the first half alone to set the tone against a large, aggressive Marshall squad. Jay Wright’s prized recruit dished 6 assists, and ran an offense that seemed to get a bit stagnant when he’s off the floor.
The Marshall team that Villanova faced in the 2nd round of the 2K Sports classic had the size and strength of a Big East squad, so it was a relatively good test of the Wildcats ability when faced with size and strength.
Three point shooting still seems to be a bit of sore spot for Wright’s team, shooting a sparse 9-22, a 40 percent clip. Marshall was almost the exact opposite, hitting 12 for 27 and 44 percent, singlehandedly allowing them to stay in the game.
In the 2nd half, Arcidiacano was slowed down a bit, scoring 5 points, mostly on free throws, while Marshall’s leading scorer was D.D. Scarver, who had 22.
If there’s one thing that the ‘Cats need to limit, it’s turnovers. The ball handling was sloppy when the ball was not in Arch’s hands, and there were a couple of possessions where big men tried to pass down low, only for it to be stolen on the entry pass. Villanova finished with 17 turnovers to just 14 assists, a ratio they sorely need to get over 1 to be successful in the Big East. They also didn’t seem to be ready on many inside passes that would have been easily converted to easy dunks.
Size continues to be a big factor for Villanova as they outrebounded Marshall 37-23, a 14 rebound difference. JayVaughn Pinkston inhaled rebounds and was the leading rebounder on a team that has a lot of size, finishing with 7, 5 of them being offensive boards. What seemed present in this game that was absent in the past was significant scoring from all of the scorers, especially a pickup in production when Arch went cold.
Said James Bell about his uptick in production in the 2nd half:
"I never feel like I have to score. My teammates put me in a good position. Everybody knows their role, everybody plays to their strength, and I played to my strengths. When you catch it in rhythm, it's effortless."
Once again, Jay Wright was overflowing with praise about Ryan Arch.
"I expected this (level of production from Ryan), no doubt, after his junior year. After he got hurt, I didn’t know if he’d play again," Wright said. He has a very high basketball IQ.
The 2K Sports classic rolls on with the ‘Cats taking on the Purdue Boilermakers on Thursday at 9:30 in Madison Square Garden.