There were times in January 2013 where it seemed that Ryan Arcidiacono couldn't buy himself a three-point shot. In a January 19th trip to Providence College, the freshman guard shot a disappointing 0% from distance, but scored 10 points in a narrow loss for the Wildcats.
He averaged 3.5 assists and 2.82 turnovers per game as a freshman, but his totals in both categories were inconsistent from game to game. It was a strong freshman effort that garnered much attention and praise, especially after sitting out the entirety of his senior season in high school. Arcidiacono seemed poised to become a big time player for the Wildcats, and now Jay Wright has a plan to help him along.
Arcidiacono wasn't necessarily the team's best pure point guard last season. A lot of that can be blamed on freshman mistakes, but the Villanova legacy looked like a player who could be very effective off-the-ball as well.
Enter Dylan Ennis, the redshirt sophomore whose athleticism saw him sky his way to a hoops-mania dunk crown, who will be expected to step into a big role for the Wildcats this Winter. The return of Tony Chennault for his own senior campaign will also take some point-guard responsibilities out of Arcidiacono's hands. By doing so, Wright hopes to make his star freshman more efficient on the court — simplifying his role.
In scoring, Arcidiacono will be aided in the backcourt by Darrun Hilliard, who was the team's third-leading scorer last season, but finished just 0.5 points per game behind the starting point guard. When the 2013-14 season launches, Hilliard is expected to improve his game even more and offer the 'Cats another big scoring threat.
Last season, the freshman point guard played an average of 34 minutes per game. That was 4.1 minutes more, on average, than any other player on the team. He also played in all 34 of Villanova's games. That kind of heavy useage can affect a young player and make them less effective.
Jay Wright's comments today, promising to give Ryan Arcidiacono help as a scorer and a ball-handler, aren't a knock on the Wildcats' young star. Instead, it is just a practical consideration for the coach. Keeping Arcidiacono fresh and simplifying his role are things that would benefit most young players.
More importantly, it shows that Wright has a plan to use his bench this coming season. There will be plenty of depth at key positions for Wright to move and shift players around. A decision from the top to make use of that rotation is perhaps one of the reasons why a player like Chennault changed his mind about transferring this summer — he still may not start at Villanova, but he might not see his role diminished either.
Could that determination to use the bench more flow to other positions? Will Mislav Brzoja get his chance to shine?