Exactly one month from today, the Villanova Wildcats will start their regular season in the Pavilion against Lafayette. After a strong bounce back season last year, the Wildcats are looking to build on their success from last season but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how Villanova will fare with a new roster in a new conference.
1. The Bigs- How will Villanova adjust to the loss of Mouph?
We all know that Jay Wright will go with a smaller lineup at some points during the game with JVP playing the five but the Wildcats are still going to need a big man they can depend on. The only option is Daniel Ochefu and hopefully he can make a lot of improvements in his game following an up and down freshman year. Ochefu played well in spurts but he struggled with his post-game, free-throw shooting, and foul trouble. Villanova doesn't need Daniel to be a double-double guy; all he needs to do is rebound consistently, shoot a somewhat respectable free-throw percentage, and stay on the floor, anything else is a bonus. If he gets in foul trouble or injured, freshman Darryl Reynolds is the only true big man to turn to. With the lack of depth on the frontline, Ochefu needs to establish himself as a consistent, reliable big man.
2. The Backcourt- Can Villanova cut down on the turnovers?
Last year it was just painful to watch Villanova try to run their half-court offense against a team that pressures the ball well. Ryan Arcidiacono and Tony Chennault turned the ball over a lot and we all know it was hard to just inbound the ball against a press. I'm sure Arcidiacono will progress from his freshman year but Rice transfer Dylan Ennis has the opportunity to emerge as another true point guard and one of the few players on the team that can drive to the basket.
With Arcidiacono and Ennis on the floor at the same time, the Wildcats should be able to reduce the turnovers. In the FIBA tournament, it was good to see Ennis have a solid assist to turnover ratio but he needs to shoot better than he did in the tournament. As for Chennault, I'm not really expecting anything too different from last year but I hope I'm wrong.
3. Shooters- Does Villanova have a consistent 3 point shooter?
Villanova does have players that can knock down the 3? Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hillard didn't always have the best shot selection and James Bell wasn't exactly a consistent player Villanova could count on. Arcidiacono and Hilliard should shoot better percentages as long as they avoid the 25 footers that drove us crazy. Incoming freshman Kris Jenkins has already been praised by Jay Wright for his shooting touch but it's asking a lot to count on a freshman to be a knockdown shooter.
Bottom line, we need someone to count on to shoot at least 35% from deep. Also on a complete side note, I wonder if JayVaughn Pinkston worked his mid-range game because it could be huge if he had some more variety on his game.
4. The Big East - How will the new conference affect Villanova's tournament resume?
I'm not worried about the top of the conference at all. Georgetown, Marquette, and Creighton will be there with Villanova but the depth is concerning. That's what always made the old big east get 10 teams into the tournament. Butler, DePaul, and Seton Hall will likely be bottom feeders this year but at least Seton Hall has a loaded 2014 recruiting class to look forward to. Providence, St. Johns, and Xavier need to improve their record from last year need in order to make the conference more competitive. If not, 20 wins isn't going to guarantee Villanova an NCAA tournament berth. During non-conference play, Villanova fans need to root for the other Big East schools just as much because Villanova will ultimately fail if others teams in the Big East struggle.
What are your questions and concerns for the 2013-14 Wildcats?