On opening night, Villanova edged out the Lafayette Leopards 75-59. If you weren't able to watch the game you were probably satisfied with a 16 point victory. However, those including myself who were watching saw that this team still has a lot of work to do. The game was a lot closer than what the score indicates.
In the past couple of years, the Wildcats have had trouble taking care of the basketball. In the win over Lafayette they only turned the ball over 7 times. That was a huge factor in the win. Sophomore PG, Ryan Arcidiacono played 34 minutes and didn't commit a single turnover. 'Arch averaged just around 3 turnovers a game while the team combined for an average of 16 last year. A step in the right direction for the cats!
On the other hand, Lafayette turned the ball over 16 times. Our quick trapping defense pressured the Leopards and forced them to give it away.
James Bell played very, very well. He asserted himself on the offensive right from the opening tip. He scored the first 13 points for the 'Cats. Not only did he spot up from three, but he hit a couple of mid range jump shots, and took it to the rim with autourity. He finished the game with 24 points and 9 rebounds. Villanova will need Tahj to hit the glass more often this year, especially when they go small.
Daniel Ochefu is still a liability when the ball is in his hands. He still hasn't developed any post moves. The one time he did post up his defender, he lowered his shoulder and got called for the offensive foul. He often looks nervous and doesn't know what to do with the ball. In a game he SHOULD dominate with the size advantage, he didn't. Not a good showing by the 6''11 Sophomore.
Perimeter Defense is still an issue. The Leopards shot 11-24 (46%) from deep. The first half was dreadful, as the Villanova defenders couldn't get off their screens and left shooters wide open. In the second half, I think they did a much better job tightening up their perimeter defense. Lafayette made 6 threes int the second half, but most of them were highly contested. You sometimes just have to tip your hat when a shooter makes a difficult shot with a hand in his face.
5-30 from behind the Arch is definitely not how you want to open your season. They should have fed the ball inside once they realized it just wasn't their night from the outside. I believe that the open three's were a reason they weren't feeding the post mainly because they didn't want to pass up those good looks. If Villanova wants to be effective in the new Big East, they will have knock down their three point shots on a consistent basis.
Villanova will look to improve as they take on the Mount St Mary's Mountaineers on Wednesday, November 13th.
What did you guys like and dislike about the victory over Lafayette? Comment below!