David Jones, a writer for the The Harrisburg Patriot-News, wrote an excellent article yesterday entitled "Nova's Success Blessing and Curse for Jay Wright". He discusses how Nova’s success on the hardcourt has opened doors to elite recruits, but created other coaching challenges. Here are a few highlights:
"Wright is gaining access to players of major skill who can transform his program into one that doesn’t treat a visit to the Final Four as a stunning accomplishment, but a mere gratification."
“We’ve gotten involved before with some [elite recruits] in the past, and it’s getting easier to get involved with those guys.”
"Then there’s the sticky part. Higher expectations mean feeding mass quantities to the monster of ’Nova’s sometimes flinty alumni and fans. It means being on extra alert for one- or two-and-done talents whose egos don’t fit in. And it means convincing more gifted players that they, too, must play his withering, relentless brand of defense."
“The previous classes came in understanding they had to prove themselves. So, that’s the first thing we have to deal with. That these guys have to understand: the guys that came before you earned this.”
"What makes Yarou intriguing is not just his size but size combined with agility and soft hands. His footwork comes from being a very good soccer player in Benin before an early-teen growth spurt made him gangly as a newborn colt, driving him from the sport and toward hoops."
At the very least, Yarou should give Wright a shot-blocking presence on the back line he’s never had. Best case, he could add a 12-and-8 guy who runs the floor and converts garbage, too. And that would make the ’Cats one formidable team. “He does a little bit of everything well,” said junior power forward Antonio Pena, who’s been getting a lot of work against Yarou in practice. “He’s mobile for his size. He’s aggressive. He can score, too. He’s good.”
"Learning where he must be when and how to yell out help to teammates from the defensive hub has been the steep learning curve early for Yarou. “The game is faster and the defense is at another level,” said Yarou. “Tony [Pena] is already used to playing so he knows what he’s doing. I’m still learning. So, I look up to him.” “Coach asked us to defend the post,” he said. “After two minutes, I was so tired. That never happened to me in high school. I never get tired.”
“And when I came here, [Wright] never told me, ‘Isaiah, you’re going to play this [number] of minutes.’ I’m going to have to work for it; that’s what he said. And I don’t have a problem with that.”
Wright believes the new recruits “have come here with great humility and respect for the program and they’re really coachable. You look at the high school teams where they came from. Those programs were already successful before they got there."
"Options are many for Wright with this roster and the early season offers many opportunities to experiment. The backcourt certainly is a deep enough that 4-guard sets. Reynolds, Fisher, Redding and Wayns all on the floor together is not out of the question."
Post Script: In an article written yesterday by Joe Juliano of the Philly Inquirer, "Big Transition for Villanova's Yarou, " Scotty Reynolds called Yarou "very nice and very respectful" but added that "he and his teammates need to toughen Mouph up a little bit." Jay Wright said he "is going to briing Yarou along slowly." Those comments are a bit troubling for fans expecting Mouph to make an immediate splash.