With everything that's happened these past couple of weeks, it feels good to have something go our way.
Villanova beat Vanderbilt Saturday night 62-52 and looked comfortable doing it. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of things to work on - I'll get to that. But this team was more reminiscent of the Villanova basketball we're used to. This win puts us at 4-3 on the season and halts a 3-game losing streak. Vanderbilt isn't a great team, but this was a step in the right direction for our squad.
JayVaughn Pinkston doesn't seem discouraged by JW's decision to make him the sixth man; he scored 13 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field and ripping down 8 boards. He only took 2 foul shots, but they were both on and-1's. JVP was the player we needed him to be tonight, hopefully he keeps the toughness and grit when the Big East games begin.
James Bell and Darrun Hilliard played under control and efficiently. Both scored when we needed them to, getting big buckets at key points. Bell threw one down in the first half that made me double check I was watching the right team. Hilliard had a couple of drives to the rim that made me wonder why he doesn't get the ball more. Although each only had 8 points, their contributions went farther than stat lines.
Mouphtaou Yarou finally showed up to play, shooting 10-of-12 from the line and scoring 16 points. He added 7 rebounds and 2 blocks for the Wildcats in arguably his best game of the young season. The guards were actually getting the ball to the post, and Mouph made the most of it.
Ryan Arcidiacono continued with his poor shot selection, going 1-for-5 from the 3-point line. He's still taking pull-up jump shots from farther-than-NBA range (he must have been a Jimmer Fredette fan). ESPN's announcer hit the nail on the head: "He's predictable now, because [shooting 3's] is the only offense he's demonstrated." Arch needs to find other ways to score because the long ball isn't working, his shots might as well be turnovers.
Our assist to turnover ratio was 9-to-13, and a lot of the turnovers were dumb and sloppy. Mouph accounted for 4 himself. Arch had one in the final minute that definitely made every Nova fan cringe. 13 turnovers overall is a pretty good number, but the players need to create scoring opportunities more often with passing and cutting.
On a similar note, our offense goes stagnant from time to time. Those stretches are what have caused us to lose. Luckily we had guys step up tonight, but we need better offensive sets to prevent the ball from sitting at the point or on the wings. Additionally, Arch and Tony Chennault haven't clicked yet when they're on the floor together. Arch bumps to shooting guard, and we all know how bad his percentage is thus far. It might not be as much of a problem if Arch would take shots inside the 3-point line or drive, but for now putting the two guards on the floor seems like a bad idea.
I'm not saying that we're back on track or that we're destined for the NCAA tournament now, but we did get a big road win against an SEC team to right the ship. With everything that's going on with the Big East and our school's administration and infrastructure (i.e. FBS football), I think we could all use a little optimism. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come rather than an anomaly.