Happy Wednesday Nova Nation! And what a truly happy day it is as Villanova Basketball is officially back. The team had their first practice of the season yesterday, and we know this because college basketball expert Jon Rothstein was on hand to tweet about it. Rothstein’s been counting down the days to the start of college basketball, and it turns out that countdown was for him to spend the day at Villanova.
Greetings from The Main Line. Here to see Villanova. Spending the first official day of practice with the defending national champions. pic.twitter.com/N3P4nnmkSU— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 25, 2018
So let’s not waste anymore time and jump right into the “insight” we gained form yesterday.
Jon Rothstein LOVES Collin Gillespie
America is expecting Eric Paschall to emerge for Villanova this season and that's for good reason, but don't sleep on Collin Gillespie. Kid is a gamer. Fearless.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 25, 2018
Gillespie got a ton of praise from Rothstein last season too, and there’s certainly a lot to love again this season. I think Collin is in line for big minutes and a big role, but I’m going to pump the breaks a tad on Rothstein’s enthusiasm. Gillespie is the type of player that plays above his talent. He’s not an elite prospect by any means, but you’re going to be hard pressed to find players that will outwork or give more effort than the rising sophomore. This probably makes him look even better at practice than it does in a game scenario, so I’m willing to hold back just a tad more on his immediate impact.
Cole Swider could be Villanova’s best shooter
Palpable Buzz at Villanova surrounding freshman forward Cole Swider. Intergalactic range. Will be a menace as a small ball 4.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 25, 2018
The last time Rothstein used the phrase “Palpable Buzz” about a Villanova player pre-season, Collin Gillespie turned out to be a much bigger role player than initially anticipated. So now that Swider is getting the Rothstein bump, that’s a great sign for his involvement in the rotation. While Swider could end up being the Wildcats next great sharp shooter, his defense was the big question mark heading into the season. Praise like this is a great sign that he’s heading in the right direction.
Joe Cremo will contribute early and often
Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo shining here at Villanova with his shot making. Bucket better. Scores in a variety of ways.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 25, 2018
With Villanova losing over 70% of its scoring from last season, Cremo is a welcome addition that should see immediate opportunity on offense. As Rothstein points out, he can score from anywhere and he can make those around him better. It’s not often that an incoming transfer has the opportunity to make such an immediate impact under Jay Wright, but Cremo is just that good.
Villanova is going to have growing pains
Jay Wright doing tons of teaching with this Villanova team. As inexperienced a squad as this program has had in the last 5-6 years. Fans should be patient early.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 25, 2018
Villanova's preseason ranking is all about what this program has done previously. This team is going to have to grow through calluses in November and December.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 25, 2018
I’ll admit that I’ve probably overlooked how much growing this team will need to do early on, but Rothstein could be right here. Villanova hasn’t dropped a game in November since 2012, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility this season. While the team will still do fine against lesser competition, Michigan and the AdvoCare Invitational will be tough early tests for the Wildcats. That said, every Jay Wright team has been leaps and bounds better in March than they were in November, so a few early losses may not hurt the team in the long run.
Who starts at the 3 for Villanova?
Early prediction on Villanova's starting five: Collin Gillespie, Jahvon Quinerly, Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 25, 2018
Quinerly, Booth, Paschall, and Cosby-Roundtree have been near locks in the starting rotation since the NBA Draft. However, that final starting spot has seemingly been up for grabs this summer. Rothstein is putting his money on Collin Gillespie. He’s certainly a strong contender given he’s been in the system for a year now and has improved quickly. But I still think the spot will go to Joe Cremo.
Cremo is a bigger body at the three, which is often called upon to guard forwards in Villanova’s switching system. He also has more experience than Gillespie, even if it was outside Villanova’s system. Either would be deserving of the spot, and both will likely see “starters minutes” no matter when they get in the game. Still, I’m sticking with Cremo as my early pick for the starting rotation.
In other “news”, Wright has a lot of teaching to do, Eric Paschall is great, and is Georgetown really a rival if they never win? Enjoy!
Villanova basketball begins preseason practice with a lot of new faces | Philly.com
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