After a week-long layoff Villanova will take on St. John's in Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon (12pm ET, FOX). This is a completely different group from last year's team all the way down the roster and on the bench. They're predictably struggling at 7-14 (0-8 Big East), and shouldn't provide too much of a challenge to Villanova.
While the team still needs to show up and win the game, it may offer the opportunity to try out some new things and get some struggling players going. Here's what to watch for on Sunday.
Will the press make a return?
Early in the season Jay Wright let his 1-2-2 press loose against inferior opponents to great effect, but has used it more sporadically in conference play. He's targeted weaker backcourts, and St. John's is certainl
The Red Storm are currently 284th in the country in TO%Jo, handing it over to the defense on over 20% of their offensive possessions. Federico Mussini has shown flashes of his potential, but he's been very turnover prone so far in his maiden campaign. It would behoove the 'Cats to capitalize.
How much will the bench play?
Upon review, Villanova has a very balanced rotation with 7 players averaging over 20 minutes per game (only Darryl Reynolds at 16 mpg is below that threshold). Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins have proved their ability to carry the Wildcats, but they're going to need more from the bench in March.
Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth in particular may have the talent to explode offensively, and could use Sunday as an opportunity to get some momentum going in the right direction. And maybe, just maybe, this is the right atmosphere to get Donte DiVincenzo back in the mix if he's healthy enough to give it a go.
Can Daniel Ochefu get back on track?
The Chef tends to feast against outmanned opponents, so Sunday should be a nice confidence booster for him. With freshman Yankuba Sima still recovering from an injury, it will fall on some combination of Christian Jones, Amar Alibegovic, Kassoum Yakwe and Darien Williams to try and slow him down.
Villanova should go early and often to Ochefu, who has a clear matchup advantage on the low block. Getting his confidence back after a foul-prone run of play will be crucial to the stretch run for the Wildcats.