Villanova Week In Review - August 10

Drew Hallowell

Things have gone a bit quiet on the basketball recruiting front, while football is beginning to heat up. The countdown clock reads 21 days until the season opener against Boston College. Several alumni playing as professionals in football, baseball and basketball were in the news this week. However, in the big story of the week we bid farewell to the basketball player perhaps best described as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Mislav, We Hardley Knew Ye ... VUHoops' Brian Ewart writes, "Mee-slav Bro-Zoy-Ah. After Nova Nation spend much of last year working on that pronunciation, a new turn of events means that Wildcat fans can give their tongues a break. The 6-4 native of Zagreb, Croatia announced this morning that he would seek a transfer to another university to finish his collegiate career." On Friday, VUHoops' Mike Jacobs reported "Mislav will enroll at Evansville." Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports writes, "Had Brzoja stayed at Villanova, the question he would have faced would have been whether his production could have translated in Jay Wright's four-out, one-in system. It's possible the sweet-shooting Brzoja could have matured as a sophomore and made the necessary adjustments, but Wright's comment in the release announcing the transfer suggests that playing time might have been scarce again." Josh Verlin of City of Basketball Love adds, "Brozja would have been unlikely to see much more playing time this season as the Wildcats returned their entire backcourt from 2012-13: sophomore Ryan Arcidiacono, junior Darrun Hilliard and senior Tony Chennault, as well as senior wing James Bell. In addition, Rice transfer Dylan Ennis and incoming freshman Josh Hart are expected to compete for minutes right away in their first years of eligibility on the Main Line." [Editor's Note: In case you are wondering, University of Evansville is a small, private university in Evansville, Indiana, that was founded in 1854 and presently has approximately 3,000 students. They play in the Missouri Valley Conference and went 21-15 last season.]

Passing the Torch ... VUHoops' Brian Ewart chatted this week with Mouph Yarou and Mo Sutton, who both shared their thoughts about next season's team based on their workouts with the team over the summer. Mouph told Brian, "They're all getting better, they're all improving. Ryan [Arcidiacono] was great, he got better a lot, JayVaughn . . . they have a great team. They're all going to be good. Just saw [Ochefu] start some game yesterday; he's ready, just confident and he's going to learn a lot. He's probably going to struggle at the beginning because it's a new role, but he's going to get better." "He can handle it," Sutton added.

Getting in Some Extra Work ... VUHoops' Mike Jacobs writes, "Rising Villanova sophomore Dylan Ennis is playing for the Jamaican Senior Team. The squad just finished the first of a pair of games in Toronto against Team Canada. Ennis scored 9 points and added two assists off the bench." Ennis is not the only Wildcat getting in some extra work in the waning days of summer. Mike also reports, "Tony Chennault and Darrun Hilliard have been invited to participate in the Global Sports Academy 2013 European Summer Tour this month. The duo departed for Brussels this week and will compete in five games while traveling through Belgium, Netherlands, and England."

Bench Mob More Than Cheerleaders ... Villanova.com reports, "A total of 322 student-athletes from Villanova were named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team for the 2012-13 academic year. Villanova student-athletes as a whole compiled a 3.175 GPA for the spring 2013 semester, making it the 20th consecutive semester with a GPA higher than 3.0 for its student-athletes. There were a total of 379 student-athletes that had GPA of at least a 3.0 or higher during spring 2013 including 180 with a 3.5 and 14 with a perfect 4.0 GPA." While the names of the student athletes were not announced, a very proud Jay Wright let the cat out of the bag with his tweet yesterday:

Jones Exploding This Summer ... Joseph Santoliquito of MaxPreps writes that Villanova target Derrick Jones, "the 6-foot-6, 190-pound Archbishop Carroll junior shooting guard is rapidly being considered one of the best players in the country. He's backed it up by showing an explosive improvement this summer. "Derrick plays much bigger than his height," Archbishop Carol coach Romanczuk said. "I don't know what his wingspan is, but he's so long it has to be near 7 feet. On top of that, he's so athletic that he's really become a game-changer on both ends of the floor. It started off on the defensive end and his game has gotten better and better on the offensive end that he can change the game there, too."

Hurricane Ja'Quan Bearing Due South... Nick Carroll of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, [former Villanova target] "Ja'Quan Newton, Philadelphia's top high school basketball recruit, gave an oral commitment Wednesday to the University of Miami." [Editor's Note: Newton dropped Villanova from consideration days after Phil Booth committed to play for the Cats.]

Cats Not in Obi's Plans ... Matt Bracken of the Baltimore Sun reports, "[Villanova target] Obi Enechionyia, a forward from the St. James School four-star prospect trimmed, his list this week to Georgia Tech, Loyola Marymount, Miami and Temple, according to DMV Elite."

Gridiron Cats Crack Preseason Top Ten ... VUHoops' Mike Jacobs writes, "The FCS coaches have released their 2013 Preseason Top 25 Poll. Villanova, the pre-season favorites to win the CAA, was tabbed in the 9th spot nationally."

Are You Ready for Some Football? ... Villanova.com published a two-part preview of season preview of Villanova football. Regarding the offense, they write, "Villanova has one of the top playmakers in all of FCS football in sophomore dual threat quarterback John Robertson (6-1, 210). As a redshirt freshman last year, Robertson earned the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS football. The Wildcats have a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield with the junior tandem of Kevin Monangai (5-8, 210) and Austin Medley (5-11, 205). The team's go-to receiver will be senior Joe Price (6-3, 200) who had a breakout season in 2012. Villanova possesses three talented players at the slot position in junior Poppy Livers (5-6, 165), sophomore Aaron Wells (5-8, 185) and sophomore Jamal Abdur-Rahman (5-9, 175). The position on the team where the Wildcats look to have the most depth is along the offensive line. Senior Josh Bucci (6-6, 350) was named preseason first team All-CAA and is slated as the starter at guard. Both tackles also return in 2013. Junior Vince Kowalski (6-4, 300), who was named third team All-CAA last year, has started all 23 games of his Villanova career. Senior Bill Vogel (6-4, 285) returns for his third year as a starter. Villanova is looking for big things from junior tight end Earnest Pettway (6-3, 250) who has the ability to be an offensive weapon due to his pass catching skills." About the defense, Villanova.com reports, "The strength of the defense appears to be the defensive line. Villanova boasts two of the top down linemen in the CAA in senior nose guard Antoine Lewis (6-2, 290) and senior defensive end Rakim Cox (6-4, 265). Expect the leader of the linebacker unit to be fifth-year senior Pat Haggerty (6-0, 225) who is slated as the starter at one linebacker spot. The most experienced member of the Wildcat secondary will be senior Craig James (5-11, 195) who will start at corner for the third straight season."

Spring Stars ... ClayToday.com reports, ""I am thrilled with the way in which this year's spring practice went," said Villanova Coach Andy Talley. "We saw great individual improvement by a number of players and the attitude throughout the team was outstanding. The Wildcat coaches name a Most Improved Player for both offense and defense. This year's winners were junior wide receiver Clay Horne and Cameron McCurry, a sophomore defensive back."

Better than Fourth ... Villanova.com reports, "The Villanova women's soccer team has been picked to finish third in the 2013 BIG EAST Preseason. The Wildcats welcome back 10 starters from a team that finished the 2012 season with a 7-9-3 overall record. Marquette, the 2012 BIG EAST Championship titlist, was chosen to the win the regular-season crown by a vote of the league's head coaches."

Big Ben's Back ... Craig Kelley of Colts.com writes, "Ben Ijalana was a four-year starter at Villanova, never missing a game at left tackle in 53 opportunities. Taken 49th overall in 2011 NFL draft by the Colts, labor unrest meant no work heading into training camp. In week four, he was shifted to left tackle when Anthony Castonzo was hurt. A few snaps in, Ijalana suffered a knee injury that ended his season and triggered months of rehab. Ijalana emerged from the emotional depths of the injury only to suffer a recurrence in a camp-opening, non-contact drill last year. Ijalana refused to throw a pity party for himself while recuperating away from the team the first time he was injured. Being thrust into the same situation two straight years means his off-seasons have been anything but recreational. On Sunday, Ijalana returns to the field as the Colts host Buffalo at 1:30 p.m. "Just stepping on the turf will be exciting, said Ijalana." Hat tip to Brian Ewart

Wayns, Yarou and Sutton Sightings ... VUHoops' Brian Ewart writes, "The Rumph Classic is a five-day charity summer Pro-Am basketball tournament played at Arcadia University. Former Villanova guard Maalik Wayns was named the tournament MVP, leading F.O.E. to a 122-102 victory over JT Ballas with a 35-point, six-rebound, and four-assist effort." Also this week, Brian reports that ‘Nova former big men, Mouph Yarou and Mo Sutton were playing in a Basketball Alumni Legends League summer exhibition game on Monday night in Washington D.C. Sutton had 10 points and Yarou 14 in helping the Philadelphia Ball Stars rally in the second half to win the game. After the game, Brian spoke with Mouph and Mo. "I'm trying to play basketball, whether it's training camp, overseas, whatever I get," said Yarou of his future plans. Sutton agreed with his frontcourt companion, adding, "just trying to find the best option for me and my family and just bringing it every day."

Past & Present Cats Take Delco Pro-Am ...VUHoops' Brian Ewart reports, "Omega Medical, which features mostly Villanova basketball players, took the 2013 Delco Pro-Am title over St. Joes-heavy Radano Associates on Sunday at Haverford College. Omega Medical's roster included 'Nova alums Antonio Pena, Reggie Redding and Shane Clark, along with current Wildcat James Bell. Pena had 25 points alone and pulled down 10 rebounds while Redding scored 24, Shane Clark added 17 and James Bell put in 10 points in the win. Pena was named the league's Most Valuable Player, his second such award in the last three seasons. Redding will head off to Berlin next weekend to join ALBA Berlin, in the German Basketball Bundesliga, while Pena hopes to return to Europe after playing for Caceres in Spain last season."

Hail Szczur ... The Press of Atlantic City reports, [former Villanova two-sport great] "Matt Szczur hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first inning and finished 4-for-5, including a double, with a stolen base, one RBI and four runs scored for the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs) in a 9-8 win against the Montgomery Biscuits (Rays) in a double-A Southern League game Thursday night. Szczur is hitting .283 with 64 runs scored, 40 RBIs and 21 steals on 32 attempts in 107 games. His on-base percentage is .349."

You Can Go Home Again ... Villanova.com reports, "Kyle McCarthy, a four year starter who helped the Wildcats tie a program record for wins as a senior, is returning to Villanova as an assistant coach of the men's soccer team. McCarthy enjoyed a stellar four year career for the Wildcats. He helped anchor a back wall that established a new school record for shutouts in the 2011 campaign with a 1.03 goals against average."

Two Foxes .... Tim Baysinger of BroadcastingCable.com reports, "Fox Sports Media Group co-presidents Eric Shanks and Randy Freer announced that Fox Sports 1 will be available in 90 million homes on the Aug. 17 launch date. The upcoming net still has not cut distribution deals with major operators such as Time Warner Cable, Dish or DirecTV. Fox Sports 1 will have a companion network, Fox Sports 2, which will be a rebrand of Fuel TV," said Freer. "We believe in the value of this approach as it will leverage multiple live events, original and studio programming across both platforms." Hat tip to Brian Ewart

Pay to Play .... Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News writes, "Val Ackerman is commissioner of a college athletics conference that did not exist even six weeks ago. So she's got a lot to do, a lot to think about-and now she's got to figure out how the Big East will deal with the possibility that the major football conferences will split into a separate NCAA division that allows them to make their own rules. Commissioners of several big-money conference campaigned to provide "cost-of-attendance" stipends for athletes. Simply put: Is it possible there would be a world in which Villanova and Maryland are recruiting the same basketball player in the future, but the Terps win out merely because they could offer a $2,000 stipend and the Wildcats could not? "We want to be at the table with those guys," Villanova coach Jay Wright told Sporting News. "If they're offering stipends, we want to offer stipends." Ackerman was less declarative when asked about the stipend/separate division issue because she has not yet had the opportunity to discuss it with the Big East's university presidents." Hat tip to Brian Ewart

Nothing to Do on Super Bowl Eve? ... Scott Phillips of NBC Sports writes, "Could there be a college hoops double header at Madison Square Garden scheduled for the day before the Super Bowl? According to Diamond Leung at MLive.com, that is certainly looking like a possibility as he's reporting that a Big East conference clash between St. John's and Marquette will be followed by an intriguing mid-conference-season non-conference clash between Georgetown and Michigan State."

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