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Villanova Basketball’s sophomores are continuing to evolve

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It’s been quite the roller coaster ride for these second year standouts.

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Happy Monday Nova Nation! The Wildcats have been improving since the start of Big East play, and Sunday’s twelve-point road win may have been their best game of the season. The rotation has expanded to nine players, the younger players have been earning more minutes, and even the starting rotation continues to adapt to the team’s improvement.

A big part of that has been the play of the sophomore class. The phrase “ups and downs” seems to barely scratch the surface of what this group has been through, but what hasn’t changed is their support and encouragement of each other and their teammates. Not only has that helped each of its three members get through some rough patches, it’s what makes them the most crucial class after the seniors.

Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree started the season as a regular part of the starting rotation. His strong performance early in the season earned him the MVP of the AdvoCare Invitational, and while his scoring has decreased he’s still been the team’s best rebounder. Specifically he’s been one of the best offensive rebounders in the country, ranking 11th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. He’s played just 5 minutes in each of the last two games, but according to Wright’s post-game press conference it sounds like that’s due to an injury he’s trying to play through.

Collin Gillespie is still Villanova’s starting point guard and continues to average nearly 30 minutes per game. But his role on the court has started to shift, and Sunday’s game was the best example of that yet. Gillespie has always been a shooting guard filling in at the point because of a lack of positional depth. However, recently he’s shared that responsibility more with Phil Booth, and Jahvon Quinerly has been able to earn more minutes. With more opportunities to play off-ball, Gillespie is able to showcase his ability to shoot from deep or get a quick step to the rim if his defender over commits. The more he can play in that role, the more valuable he becomes to the Villanova offense.

Jermaine Samuels has probably been the most inconsistent of the trio this season, but also looks like he’s improved the most of the group. His focus on playing the power forward and small-ball center positions have highlighted his athleticism, rebounding, and defensive improvement. While his three point shooting hasn’t had much of an uptick, he’s proving to be a force around the rim and a threat at the free-throw line. That improvement was rewarded Sunday with 26 minutes, just about equal to his minutes in the three previous Big East games combined. The starting five spot still probably belongs to his classmate Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, but Samuels will certainly see plenty of time with Saddiq Bey and Eric Paschall as well.

Villanova remains a work in progress, and they still have plenty of room for improvement. But things are moving in the right direction and the sophomore class has been a big part of that. Jay Wright said at the beginning of the season that this team’s success would be dependent on how quickly the sophomores can play like upperclassmen. Turns out, Wright was right.

In other “news”, Nova’s 2018 team was one of the best in modern history, Brunson is making the most of his opportunity, and Josh Hart lost a very silly bet. Enjoy!

Villanova defeats Creighton

Phil Booth ignites second-half surge as Villanova beats Creighton | NBC Sports Philadelphia
Down 11 points at halftime on Sunday, Villanova called on senior Phil Booth, and as usual, he delivered in a 90-78 win over Creighton.

Villanova rolls to 90-78 win over Creighton as Phil Booth scores 28 points | The Inquirer
The Wildcats trailed by nine early in the second half but a pair of 13-0 runs helped them take control, along with a defensive effort against one of the best shooting teams in the nation.

'We just got beat by a better team': Creighton losing streak builds to three after Villanova loss | Omaha.com
With Villanova teetering and the momentum shifting in Sunday’s first half, Creighton could not find the extra gear to surge ahead decisively and seize complete control.

Villanova Rallies To Defeat Men's Basketball, 90-78 | GoCreighton.com
Defending national champion Villanova overcame a nine-point second half deficit to remain unbeaten in the BIG EAST Conference, posting a 90-78 road win at Creighton on Sunday before a sellout crowd of 17,379.

Class of 2019

Antoine shining as a senior and ready to play at Villanova | 247 Sports
LINCROFT, NJ - Bryan Antoine shined at the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase, and looks ready to make a major impact for Villanova next season.

Empire Invitational Recap | 247 Sports
BRONX, NY - The Empire Invitational was the host to some impressive performances. Future UConn Huskies were tremendous, while five-stars stole the show the rest of the day.

NBA Wildcats

J.J. Barea's injury opens the door for Jalen Brunson | Section 215
With J.J. Barea out of the picture, ex-Villanova Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson's role with the Dallas Mavericks should expand considerably.

Josh Hart wears Browns onsie after losing bet with Larry Nance Jr. | Clutch Points
Josh Hart of the Lakers lost a bet with Larry Nance Jr. of the Cavaliers, and it resulted in him wearing a Cleveland Browns onesie.

Villanova Women’s Basketball

RECAP: #15 Marquette Women’s Basketball 91, Villanova Wildcats 55 | Anonymous Eagle
The Golden Eagles had nothing to worry about after a big second quarter.

Villanova Falls in Overtime to DePaul | Philly College Sports
The Villanova Wildcats women’s basketball team was looking for a bounce back performance after the loss to Marquette two days before. It would be a tough assignment as the DePaul Blue Demons were next up on the schedule. Nova was facing the two teams over the weekend that were Big East preseason favorites.

College Basketball

Sagarin picks college basketball's best teams since 2005 | 247 Sports
Not all of Sagarin's best teams are no-brainers, and one is playing this year.

These six NCAA basketball tournament staples might have a March without madness | The Washington Post
Arizona and West Virginia are among teams that face a heavier lift than usual at this point to get back to the Big Dance.