Jay Wright's Villanova Basketball squad faced its first opponent of the 2012-13 Season on Thursday night and walked away as 65-59 victors against the defending Canadian National Champions, the Carleton University Ravens. The Ravens have defeated Buffalo and Boston University already this preseason and lost to preseason-ranked UNLV by just four points.
With a starting line up of Ryan Arcidiacono & Darrun Hilliard in the backcourt and JayVaughn Pinkston, James Bell, and Mouphtaou Yarou up front, It took the Wildcats a bit to warm-up in the exhibition, as they found themselves down early.
After clawing back from the deficit, 'Nova took a 36-33 lead at the half.
"Carleton is a really talented offensive team. They are very well-coached and execute at the offensive end," Villanova's Jay Wright explained. "We scheduled them purposely so that we would have to guard that offense."
As noted in our preview, Carleton's deep-shooting depth was a challenge for another Villanova defense. The Ravens took 41 shots, connecting on just about 30% of them. Guard Phillip Scrubb led all scorers with 32.Scrubb was 9-of-19 from the field and 6-of-6 from the charity-stripe. The top-rated CIS point guard also added four assists.
"Scrubb is a talented guy," Wright said. "We knew what he was capable of and he's definitely someone who could be effective in the Big East."
Villanova's shooting will raise eyebrows for many 'Nova fans for another season. The Wildcats shot 18 for 57 (31%) from the field including 3-20 from behind the arc. To their credit, however, the 'Cats worked hard on the glass, taking the Battle of the Boards as the out-rebounded Carleton 48-41.
"We leaned on our defense and rebounding. Mouph was big for us inside. We have to shoot the ball a lot better, though - there's a lot of work to do."
Yarou, the senior big-man, paced Villanova with 21 points and 12 boards. Hilliard showed why he was given the start by adding 15 points on 6-12 shooting.
James Bell opened the second half by nailing a 3-point shot, and went on to register eight points and four rebounds in the game. Junior transfer Tony Chennault also scored eight points off the bench for the Wildcats in his blue-and-white debut.
"Tony is a guy that can play multiple positions, so we liked him coming off the bench," Wright explained of his decision to use Chennault as a sixth-man. "Plus, he's the most unselfish, humble guy on the team.
Carleton definitely exposed the Wildcats' offense in the game, especially on the perimeter, where the 'Cats were largely ineffective. It didn't help that Arcidiacono was was 0-7 from outside in the game, and Brzoja was not used -- both players are believed to be reliable deep-threats this season. If the Wildcats are going to improve from beyond the arc, Arcidiacono will have to find his shot in the regular season.
Wright wouldn't commit to using the same starting line-up when the regular season opens next week, but did tell reporters that he liked the line-up he used in the exhibition.