One thing to keep in mind about last night's lackluster 79-69 win over the Delaware Blue Hens is that this version of the Villanova Wildcats is a young team - they're still learning how to play together as a team. One of the things that makes a team a good or a great team is the ability to step on an opponent's throat when they're down and end the game.
As seen last night when 'Nova had a 14-point halftime lead that evaporated down to as little as 5 at multiple points in the 2nd half, they haven't acquired that killer instinct yet.
Oddly enough though, that game never felt in doubt, even when Devon Saddler and Kyle Anderson were hitting everything they threw at the hoop. Do I have confidence in this team? Not yet, but I do have confidence in certain players on this team to get the job done. That's something I didn't think I'd have this early in the year.
Our 'Cheers' and '/Facepalms' are after The Jump.
Maalik Wayns - His best offensive performance of the season, easily. His 21 points came efficiently (7-12 FG) and in a variety of different ways as he showed Delaware that when he's hitting his jump shots, he's a nightmare. He burned the Hens consistently with a variety of long-range efforts, mid-range jumpers, and drives to the basket.
Dominic Cheek - At one point in the second half Cheek had a string of 4-5 possessions where he just took over the game on both ends of the floor. Taking charges, blocking shots, and scoring. It was a brief glimpse into the immense talent he possesses. If he ever puts that all together for longer stretches, we're looking at a star. His 21 points also came from a variety of offensive positions, and his continued excellence at the line (6-6 FT) proved decisive in the win. He's also smiling a lot, which shows he's both happy and full of confidence.
Mouphtaou Yarou - The best first half of his 'Nova career as he poured in 15 points, most of which came on a mid-range jumper that reminded all fans of Dante Cunningham in 2009. He went a little quiet in the second half to finish with just 19 and seemed to fall in love with the jumper a little too much against an undersized foe, but I'm happy with his progression thus far. He's much more comfortable on the offensive end, which is vital to this team's success.
Maurice Sutton - Two games in a row with a 'Cheers' for Mo! He got the crowd going with a vicious dunk in the 2nd half and generally provided great defense and energy without doing anything stupid. As Scott Graham pointed out (I was complimenting him waaaay too much for an ESPN3 guy last night), Mo seems to know and understand his role this year, and so far is playing it to perfection.
James Bell - Well, the assists had to come from somewhere I guess - but did anyone think it would be Tahj? 7 assists on the game isn't something we'll complain about from an athletic wing. Don't expect this to be a regular contribution from him, but it is nice to see him finding the open man for the score.
JayVaughn Pinkston - Tough game for JVP, I thought he did a lot of things right, including looking for his offense in a multitude of ways. Both of his 3's were wide open, but missed, and he went 0-6 from the field overall. But those other 4 shots all came from around the bucket, and he was unlikely not to make at least a couple of them. It was very encouraging to see him being proactive, however.
Jay Wright - This game was a little closer than it should have been, but Markus Kennedy and Ty Johnson absolutely cannot be playing just 4 and 3 minutes, respectively in this portion of the schedule. They both need to be contributors come Big East time, and that's not going to happen with them glued to the bench. Neither was noticeably good in their brief time on the court last night, but I don't think they were given a totally fair run-out.
3-point defense - Absolutely pathetic and a terrifying reminder of the last few seasons. The defense had been so strong in the first couple of games from outside, and then this. Saddler and Anderson were the only two offensive threats with Jamelle Hagins in foul trouble all night and 'Nova continued to leave both open for 3's. No awareness whatsoever. That needs to be fixed.
Tweet of the Game
Always love a good 'fake' Twitter account, and this one came in briefly after the final whistle sounded. Bonus points to making fun of the way the opposing coach can't live up to the dress code level set by our own.
GameThread Comment of the Game
It being Friday night, I was treating myself to a nice cold American lager and wanted to check out what the rest of the community was up to in that department. Claude Savagely outclassed us all with a picture of his drink of choice, Templeton Rye. When I applauded his choice, he insisted it was a one-time effort.
Buying beverages of different quality based on each opponent? Can't say I haven't done the same.
Villanova returns to action next Thursday when they open the 76 Classic against the UC Riverside Highlanders on Thanksgiving day. Tip is set for 4:30 p.m. ET and we get our first nationally televised game of the year as the game will be shown on ESPN2.