VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Villanova Wildcats are likely to be without two starters for Saturday night’s BIG EAST battle against red-hot Notre Dame at the Wells Fargo Center, head coach Jay Wright said today.
Junior Maalik Wayns, who suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee in a Feb. 7 win over Providence, did not play against USF on Wednesday night and is listed as doubtful for the game against the Fighting Irish (18-8 overall, 10-3 BIG EAST).
In addition, sophomore guard James Bell suffered a sprained left ankle in the second half of Wednesday night’s 65-51 loss at the University of South Florida Wright said that Bell will be sidelined Saturday night as well as on Monday, when the Wildcats host Connecticut at the Wells Fargo Center.
Neither player participated in this afternoon’s practice at the Pavilion.
"Obviously we would miss both of those guys but this is an opportunity for some of our younger guys to contribute and gain experience," stated Wright.
No. 23/25 Notre Dame is the hottest team in the BIG EAST, winners of seven straight, including an upset over then No. 1 ranked Syracuse. The Fighting Irish have won four of six on the road as they head to Philadelphia for the only meeting between these schools this year.
"(Notre Dame head coach) Mike Brey has done a great job," stated Wright. "They lost Tim Abromaitis for the whole season and yet have become one of the best teams in the BIG EAST. They are an intelligent, balanced team that shares the basketball and defends well."
With Wayns’ availability in doubt, the point guard duties for the Wildcats again figure to fall on the shoulders of freshman Ty Johnson.
"Considering it was his first time in that situation of playing 38 minutes against a quality opponent on the road," noted Wright, "I thought Ty did a good job. He made mistakes but it was a great learning experience for him."
The game begins at 9:05 p.m. and will air nationally on ESPNU as well as ESPN 950 Radio locally.
There will be additional Wildcat programming on the Villanova IMG Radio Network (ESPN 950 locally) for this Saturday night clash. Whitey Rigsby and Steve Pinone will host a one-hour pre-game show from McFadden’s Restaurant at 7:30 p.m. At 8:30 p.m., "The Wildcat Courtside Show presented by J.J. White" is on the air with play-by-play voice Ryan Fannon and Rigsby. After the contest ends, the "Villanova Athletic Fund Post-Game Show" will be live to help wrap things up.