Villanova's Blue & White game was played Saturday afternoon following the football team's loss to Maine. The men's basketball team played in front of the public for the first time. Though it's hard to get a feel for the team as a whole with the personnel divided into two teams, individuals' skills were well showcased.
The Blue team was clearly dominant in this match up. They took the lead 18-4 to begin the game. White suffered from having only 1 captain (Chennault) on their team. They struggled to get on the same page. They did not play poorly, but a few bobbled passes and bad rolls brought down their morale early. The first half saw well-distributed scoring from Blue, particularly from the three point line. They even successfully executed an inbounds play with 2.2 seconds left, as Hart hit a buzzer-beater 3 from the corner to end the half.
The second half produced a strong defensive effort from the White squad. The press, combined with hustle plays from Hart and Pinkston, went a long way. They put together a nice scoring run featuring hard-nosed layups from JVP and a self-creations from Hilliard. Ultimately, Blue regained control and finished the game up by about 15 points. They manipulated with the score to make the situational play better at the end.
The small number of players definitely showed during the game. With Dylan Ennis out, only 9 scholarship players remain. Jay announced Ennis will be out 6 weeks, so the team had better be careful with injuries.
Kevin Pulsifer took statistics during the game, and they will be posted tomorrow.
Ryan Arcidiacono has the keys to the car, and he's very comfortable in the driver's seat. He really developed into a leader and a point guard. I'm happy to report there were no ill-advised deep threes from him. Arch broke the press well, organized the offense, and directed teammates on the floor. There was a specific 2-on-1 fast break where Arch motioned Jenkins to the right wing, while spreading the floor to the left himself. He made the defense commit, kicked it, and Jenkins knocked down the three. True leadership and savvy from the young guard. In the same vein, Tony Chennault commanded the offense well but did not create any opportunities himself. He looked better on defense in the press.
Josh Hart gets my second nod. He confirmed his flash from Hoops Mania. The freshman was all over the court on defense, intercepting passes and causing turnovers. On offense he continued to slash and get into the paint. He is raw, but some game experience and better passing will turn him into a player. Kris Jenkins also performed well in spite of his recovery from sickness. He is perfect for this 4-guard approach: he plays offense in the corner but interior defense. This versatility will help our match-ups on defense.
JayVaughn Pinkston was interesting to watch. He wasn't hitting his layups, so he ended the first half visibly frustrated. What I loved was he how emerged positive in the second half, cheering on teammates for successes and working hard on the boards. Most of his layup woes came from Daniel Ochefu, who had a hand on several shots. Chef served up a couple assertive dunks as well. He passed tremendously, but still showed no evidence of a post game. Darryl Reynolds was quiet but will be a capable spell for Ochefu.
James Bell's play reminded me of Syracuse's James Southerland. He played as a bigger wing for kick-out threes, but rebounded and drove when necessary. Darrun Hilliard looked smooth as well. His shot has improved, and he's still penetrating to the rim off the dribble. I would like to give Nick McMahon a mention too; the walk-on made a couple nice plays I was not expecting.
This team has good pieces in place. This season will depend on whether or not Jay Wright successfully executes his strategy. We will get a better sense of that next Saturday, when the unified team takes on West Chester at the Wells Fargo Center. See you at the tailgate.