Welcome to the Phil Booth Hype Hour! While scholastically he shares a class with Mikal Bridges and transfer Eric Paschall, both are red shirts (Bridges last year and Paschall this season). The last time Villanova had a single scholarship player in a class was another sophomore, Taylor King. I feel pretty safe in saying that’s all they have in common.
Booth is a versatile scoring threat and solid ball handler with some room for improvement on defense. But in a very talented and crowded Villanova back court, what’s the best role for Booth? Today I’ll take a look at the pros and cons of the sophomore so that when Jay reads this he’ll know exactly how to best utilize Booth. Or more realistically, so that when my mom reads this she won’t have to ask me a million questions at the next game.
Pros: The 4 D’s
Dribble: Jay loves him some ball handling. He’ll even sacrifice scoring just to make sure his team controls and moves the ball (see Tony Chenault). While he made some freshman mistakes last year, Booth showed good decisiveness and ball handling skills.
Drive: If you’ve ever watched a football game featuring RB Danny Woodhead, you’ve heard some terrible announcer use the phrase "He’s so small that the big guys up front don’t see him!" While that makes no sense, it appears to be true of Booth on the hardwood. It’s always fun to watch a little guy who can finish amongst the trees around the hoop.
Downtown: Was it just me, or did Booth start shooting from further and further from the hoop last season? Either way, he was hitting shots... a lot of shots... a lot of 3 point shots. If there’s one thing we know about Jay’s system it’s that if he’s confident in you as a deep bomber, then you’ve got the green light. Bombs away!
experienceD: Often times people will refer to experience as having more time knowing the system or the scheme. While that’s a part of it, I think the bigger advantage of experience is time on the court with your teammates. Booth has had a full season to play with the returning starters and will already have a feel for how his game works with theirs.
The Cons: What could contribute to the Sophomore Slump?
Size: Booth is one of the smallest guys on the team. As he steps into a larger role, he’s going to go up against stronger, taller, and better defenders. If he is unable to continue to create separation and find open shots, his production may not rise to our expectations
Defense: The size issue factors into his defense too, but so does his "awareness" when handling switches and picks. These were areas that are an understandable part of the freshman learning curve, but need to be overcome this season.
Ego: Let me start by saying we haven’t seen any signs that Booth has a big head (except of course the ones that literally are big signs of his head). But there’s a good possibility that Booth could be playing behind a freshman on the depth chart. If he can put team first and not let that get to him, no problem. But if it gets under his skin, let’s just say he wouldn’t be the first player on this team to have issues with playing time. Almost all the others transferred out.
Overall, I think Phil Booth is a "Villanova Guy". While there are some obstacles for him to face this season, I think he’ll be able to overcome them with the grit and determination we’ve seen other "Villanova Guys" have in the past. Booth is the type of player that Jay has rebuilt the program around, and we can always use more of them. Booth will end up being our 6th man this year, but as Josh Hart showed us last year, that can be one of the most important positions on the team. I think Booth is ready for that challenge.
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