Mr. Villanova himself.
We say goodbye to a 4-year captain in Ryan Arcidiacono. The senior entered the season as reigning co-Big East Player of the Year with Kris Dunn, looking to end his four year campaign on a high note. His impact was unknown coming into his freshman year due to back surgery, but he certainly left with a ~bang~.
A big question mark entering the 2015-2016 season was how the senior would mesh with newcomer Jalen Brunson. Who would be the primary ballhandler? Would Arch's scoring take a dip? Would the frontcourt defense take a severe hit with a lack of chemistry?
We can agree everything worked out okay, right?
What We Expected
We knew the chemistry between Jalen and Ryan would eventually form, but we were unsure how long it would take. If the two had issues running together, Jay would have to figure a natural balance in playing time, or even limit Jalen's minutes. That would in turn cut Jalen's potential development in his first year. The best case scenario entering the season would be to let Jalen handle the ball and have Arcidiacono focus on his shot. A spike in Ryan's scoring number would soon follow.
Vote From Wisdom Of The Crowds
The VUHoops Wisdom of the Crowds projected the co-captain to average between 10-12 PPG in 2015-16, with a near equal amount saying 12-14 PPG. In both cases, the crowd projected a jump from last season's 10.1 PPG. A small number of readers- 5 of you- said he would dip below 8 PPG.
The Crowds were on point; the 12.5 came right in that 10-14 PPG majority. Arcidiacono's FG% rose 5% from last season, and even improved on his 81.3% free throw efficiency this year. Three pointers were no exception; 37.2% in 2014-2015, 39.4% in 2015-2016. This is even more amazing considering he attempted nearly fifty more threes one hundred more shots total. And his AST/TO stayed constant at 2.8!
Why not start your final conference opener with a blazing performance? On New Year's Eve the Wildcats welcomed the 6th ranked Xavier Musketeers and shot the lights out. In a 95-64 blowout, Arch had a season-high 27 points on 10-19 shooting (52.6%) while going 7-14 (50%) from three. He dished out 8 assists as well, his second-highest total in that category. Add in 2 steals while committing just one foul in 34 minutes of play, and that's a well-rounded day at the office.
The `Cats traveled to MSG to try and bounce back from the loss at Wells Fargo Center to Providence. They took the W, but Arcidiacono finished with a season-low 5 points. He was 2-9 (22.2%) from the field including just 1 of 4 from beyond the arc. He dished out 2 assists (surprisingly not a season-low), commit 3 fouls and had a season-high 4 turnovers.
What a storybook ending for this guy. The team came off a disappointing 13-19 season, yet an unforgettable week of taking down two top-5 teams during his freshman year got the Wildcats back in the Big Dance. The senior won Big East Player of the Year and had been a Big East Regular Season and Tournament Champion. All that was missing was a National Championship. But that just solidified his on-the-court work. Ryan personified the Villanova model with his work as a student-athlete off the court well before this season, which is why he will always be remembered as a legend on this campus.