If you did not see the game, and just looked at the boxscore and the final score line, you'd come away with the idea that the Villanova Wildcats dismantled the Bucknell Bison fairly easily on Friday night. But that doesn't tell the whole story. Not even close.
I was only able to see the 1st half live before I had dinner reservations, but that's the great thing about ESPN3. FREE REPLAYS! I re-watched the game in it's entirety and unfortunately, came away more unimpressed than impressed with the 'Cats last night.
Were there some really good things? Of course. But it's painfully obvious that this team is still trying to find it's identity, and we might not know what that is until BIG EAST play rolls around in January. It's clear that this is Corey Fisher's team, and that with Maalik Wayns they form one of the most potent backcourts in basketball, but I saw a somewhat-hesitant and unsure offense last night.
Bucknell isn't the worst mid-major out there, but they aren't the kind of team that should be giving a Top-10 program a tough night. This one should have been a lot easier, and if Bucknell shoots the ball just a bit better - they missed tons of wide open looks - 'Nova fans might have been pulling out the heart medication last night.
More on what I liked, and didn't like, after The Jump.
Like: Corey Fisher's mentality - The dive over the scorer's table just seconds into the game showed me that this is still the scrappy kid from The Bronx, despite all the hype he's been getting. His willingness to take control of the team when they needed someone to step up showed me he's ready to lead.
Dislike: Maalik Wayns' shooting - It's painfully evident what the strategy with Wayns is going to be this year - make him shoot it to beat you. After he scorched UDC, Bucknell played 5 feet off him at all times, daring him to shoot. He did, but it wasn't pretty. 5-15 from the field, and 2-7 from beyond the arc. That needs to improve for sure, and he'll be unguardable.
Like: Antonio Pena & Mouphtaou Yarou - The two of them form a monster front line. Pena has all the experience and savvy that a senior should have. Yarou is, frankly, a handful. His offensive game is still being refined by these mid-majors aren't going to be able to keep him off the glass. They don't give up many offensive rebounds.
Dislike: Forcing it inside - This goes back to the offensive identity crisis. Listen, we're still Guard U. The offense should run through the backcourt. On a few too many possessions we were really trying to get it down low. Why? Neither Pena or Yarou are Greg Monroe-type of offensive forces. Let them run pick-and-roll and clean the glass. It's effective.
Like: Maalik Wayns & Corey Fisher backcourt - It's insanely fun to watch, there's not doubting that. Having two guys that can blow by a defender at will and stroke it from deep (okay, only Fisher so far) makes for a long night for the other team.
Dislike: 6-man rotation - Maurice Sutton only played 7 minutes. Isaiah Armwood got 10. And you know what? I didn't think either played poorly at all. Jay was clearly sticking to the starting five plus Dominic Cheek. Not sure why though. We aren't deep with James Bell and JayVaughn Pinkston out - but an 8-man rotation allows us to press and run, which is our bread and butter.
Like: Corey Stokes' aggressiveness - He was more than happy to take his shots when they came. That's step 1. Step 2 is making them more consistently. We'll need him to do that this year to take pressure off of Fisher and Wayns.
Like: The Student Section - They seemed pretty into the game for who the opponent was. Keep it up.
Dislike: The rest of the crowd - Pathetic as always. I get that it is Bucknell, but your legs aren't going to break if you stand up and cheer. I promise.
All in all - I've seen worse performances. But I would have liked to see us come out and destroy a weaker foe. That wasn't the case. Marist should be an easy one on Tuesday. Let's go for 100.