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A Defense of Villanova Basketball’s Eric Paschall

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Apparently averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds isn’t enough for some people

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Happy Thursday Nova Nation! Last night was one of those times that Villanova gets better without playing. Turns out Michigan is REALLY good, the win over Florida State looks even better, and all told three teams ranked ahead of Villanova lost.

But instead of being happy about that, I was still irked by a piece over at Basketball Society on Eric Paschall. This short blog entry, which reads like drive-by-journalism, doesn’t have a by-line but does decide to dump all over one of Villanova’s senior leaders.

Let’s start this “grinds-my-gears” segment with the fact that the article starts by saying he’s the clear leader (singular) of the team. We already know the author pays more attention to NBA mock drafts, in which he’s rated as a first round pick, than to what actually happens at Villanova. Even the casual Nova fan has heard of co-captain Phil Booth. But if this is an NBA guy, why does Mikal Bridges escape his list of guys who left early for the draft? I’m two sentences in and I already know I’m not going to like this.

The author goes on to describe Nova’s losses as “huge” and “bad” (fine), and their three game winning streak as “much needed” (also true). But then he starts using horrible stat manipulation to tear Paschall down. His first claim is that if you eliminate the Oklahoma State game, Paschall’s only shooting 16% from three. The problem is that Paschall shot 60% in that game on 10 attempts, accounting for 28% of his shots behind the arc this season. Paschall’s shooting 28.6% on the season from three, and while that’s not great, it’s more than 12% better than what this writer wants to give him credit for. There’s also a reference to his shooting last season at 36%, which lacks the background knowledge that Paschall started last season shooting 4% through his first 13 games before hitting 46% behind the arc for the rest of the year. We already know that he’s more than capable of rebounding from a slow start.

This same selective logic is conveniently left out when criticizing Paschall’s shooting at the rim. While he’s at 63.6% for the season, the article decides not to point out that a significant number of those misses came against Michigan, the countries best defense according to KenPom. And as long as we’re throwing stats out there, Paschall’s shooting 100% on putbacks at the rim this season. Not relevant to the original argument, but I thought it would be nice to mention.

Then we get some more fun quotes that prove the writer doesn’t follow the player other than reading a stat sheet. “Eric Paschall is a vet at this point.” His 5th and final year of eligibility, yeah, I’d hope he is. Then the author says Nova’s a long way from back-to-back titles, a fair point. But they follow it up with, “since they don’t even look like one of the better teams in the Big East.” Say whaaaaaat!?!?

The article wraps up by name dropping Jahvon Quinerly for good measure, and says that Paschall needs to produce more for Nova to “return to their former glory.” I’m not going to argue that we’d like to see more from Paschall, but he was trying to carry Villanova on his back while they worked through issues that effected the entire team. As the rest of the team gets better, he’ll be able to play freer and more like we saw him last season.

In addition, he’s still producing in the two areas Jay Wright values most: defense and rebounds. Against Florida State, he held their leading scorer to just 9 points and only 5 shots. He’s the team’s second leading rebounder behind a guy he’s taken under his wing, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. If that’s not, as the writer put it “leading by production on the court”, I don’t know what is.

In other “news”, Villanova’s actually good, Kyle Lowry’s actually good, and they’re still cleaning up from Villanova’s National Championship celebration. Enjoy!

Villanova Basketball

Eric Paschall needs to step it up for Villanova | Basketball Society
Eric Paschall is the clear leader of this Villanova team, but he's struggling early on for the team and needs to turn it around if they want to win again.

Kentucky, Nevada lead hoops teams we don’t have a handle on | SI.com
It’s still too early to draw firm conclusions on any team in college hoops, but these six have left us especially curious through three weeks of the season.

NBA

It’s a good time to be Kyle Lowry: The Raptors star on playing with Kawhi, raised expectations and why he’s no longer mad about the DeRozan trade | The Athletic
Resolute in his ways and reinvigorated after off-season upheavel, Kyle Lowry has helped push his team to the top of the standings. His next plan is to push them into championship glory. Thanks to champs'02 for pointing this one out!

College Basketball

Court Report: Overreaction to the NCAA's new NET rankings, timeline on Silvio De Sousa and the worst injury so far | CBSSports.com
Matt Norlander's weekly inside look at college basketball has the latest from Ohio State, Louisville and much more

U.S. Bank Stadium gets ready for its first-ever basketball games | StarTribune.com
Venue will host games this weekend as precursor to Final Four in April. A direct quote on the staging for the court, "Talty said crews found vestiges of the confetti from Villanova's championship celebration."

New Castle's Duval returns to Delaware as part of G-League | thecourierexpress.com
New Castle's Trevon Duval has played in some of basketball's most storied arenas, but before Wednesday night, he hadn't played in his home state's one.