It seems that after two confidence building victories against Marshall and Purdue, Villanova is regressing to the level of play fans have come to know and loathe, losing to visiting Columbia 75-57. In a completely forgettable game from Jay Wright’s squad, the ‘Cats turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and were down 26-22 even though Columbia only shot 33.3% from the field.
Ryan Arcidiacano was curiously silent for much of the game, finishing with 11 points, mostly from free throws. James Bell added a team high 13 and a crowd pleasing dunk in the second half that rose the half empty student section on its feet. It was the start of a mini-comeback for the ‘Cats that would ultimately be squashed minutes later by a three point assault from Columbia.
Steve Frankoski connected on 5 of 10 from three point land, and Grant Mullins added 14 for a Columbia team that shot an astounding 28 three pointers over the course of 40 minutes. Star point guard Brian Barbour simply didn’t have his stroke tonight, going 1 for 12 but added 7 assists and played all 40 minutes.
Columbia went with a 2-3 zone that stumped the Wildcats all game. Coach Jay Wright seemingly wasn’t able to make any in game adjustments to counteract the defensive scheme, and only showed life late in the second half for a few minutes until the game was out of reach.
Jay Wright had some things to say about Villanova’s ability to penetrate the zone. “We got it inside, we just couldn’t finish. Mo Sutton was really the only one who could do anything in there.”
Turnovers continue to be by and large the biggest weakness of this team. Most of them came under the basket or on ill-advised outlets for fast breaks, and Columbia pounced on them. This is an issue that Jay will need to address if this Villanova squad has any desire to compete in the Big East.
Another area that needs addressing is perimeter defense. Columbia hit 11 three pointers, and it isn’t the first time that a team has poured in basket after basket from beyond the arc.
When asked about perimeter defense, Wright said, “Yeah it definitely is. We’re not doing a good job of containing the ball. It’s not the initial guy that beats you. It’s the pass, and then the next pass. But it starts with getting beat the first time.”
One of the takeaways is that Villanova won’t shoot this poorly every game. Excepting for three point shooting, which is a glaring issue, many of the layups that rimmed out should fall. Foul shooting also contributed to the loss, with the ‘Cats missing 12, going 16-28 from the line.
I asked Ryan Arch about his taped index finger and whether it affected him, and he had this to say.
“No, I just missed shots, it just wasn’t falling down for me. That’s no excuse. It’s nothing major, it’s just a cut.”
Villanova next plays at La Salle on the 25th.