The Villanova Wildcats have pushed aside their two early season losses, and have garnered six consecutive wins. After winning the Advocare Invitational, the ‘Cats earned three straight tough Big 5 wins. One more would give the Wildcats a 26-game Big 5 winning streak and their sixth consecutive outright Big 5 title.
The Penn Quakers are off to a 8-2 start, with the losses coming against Kansas St. and Oregon St. Head Coach Steve Donahue is in his fourth season at the helm, and coming off of his first NCAA appearance since becoming the head coach at Penn.
The Loss of Ryan Betley
Since returning from injury at the beginning of his freshmen season, Ryan Betley has been a huge part of the Quakers lineup. He started nearly every game he played in his first two seasons, and he was expected to be a major piece for Penn again this season.
That plan took a turn when the Downingtown, PA native ruptured his patella tendon in the season’s first five minutes. His spot in the starting lineup has been filled mostly by Bryce Washington, who has filled in quite nicely. Washington, a Freshmen, is shooting a team leading 46.7% from three, but is struggling with turning the ball over. The shorter rotation hasn’t hurt Penn much yet, but it could keep them from an upset of Villanova.
Thus far in the 2018-19 season, the Quakers have been one of the better shooting teams in the country. Per Kenpom, Penn is 33rd in the country in three point percentage, hitting 39.2% of their shots from deep. Washington is leading the way, but fellow Freshmen Michael Wang is shooting 44.8% from beyond the arc, and Junior Devon Goodman is shooting 40.9%.
Penn can also put the ball in the basket from inside the arc, as they are shooting 55.8% from two point range, good for 49th in the country. Their effective field goal percentage is the 12th best in the country, at 57%. Wang and Goodman are also excellent in that respect. Wang, who stands 6’10”, is shooting 68.8% from two, and Goodman is shooting 61.1%.
While the young guys have stepped up in the absence of Betley, two of the Quakers’ leaders have continued their excellent play from previous seasons. 6’8” Junior AJ Brodeur is a well rounded player who is a terrific rebounder and passer also capable of putting up some points. He has started every game Penn has played since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, and remains a rock for Steve Donahue.
6’1” Senior Antonio Woods journey was a little different, as he was put on academic suspension for the second half of the 2015-16 season and also missing the entire 2016-17 season. Woods returned last season, and blossomed enough to become a captain in his final season. Woods is also a well rounded player who can affect the game in every facet.
The Quakers have had a solid start to the season, but Villanova will be one of the better teams they have faced. As the Wildcats return to The Palestra with a trip to the Lawrence, Kansas in their sights, avoiding a slip up against a solid Penn team will be critical.