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Villanova Basketball’s Rotating Rotation

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It’s 2019, and Jay Wright still hasn’t settled on a rotation

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Happy Thursday Nova Nation! A win is a win, and Villanova is now one of only four Big East teams that remain undefeated in conference play. The Wildcats shook off a slow start to overcome a DePaul team that came out shooting well from deep. However, turnovers and an eventual cooldown from three allowed Nova to crawl back into this one and win by five.

Villanova was coming off a ten day break and clearly was a little rusty, but there were other issues that made the win more difficult than it should have been. Wright said after the game that he’s needed to use shifting defenses because the team’s not ready to play a straight up pressure man defense yet. It’s one of the many reasons that he’s still been tinkering with the rotation.

So far the starting lineup seems set: Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, Collin Gillespie, Saddiq Bey, and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. It should be noted that Joe Cremo started instead of Bey against DePaul. However, because Bey started the second half this was probably discipline for a minor infraction. Bey, along with the rest of the usual starters, recorded over 20 minutes of playing time. In fact, that group is all averaging over 23 minutes per game on the season. It’s the pieces around the starters that are still changing as Big East play starts.

While it is admittedly an arbitrary number, I’m going to call the “rotation” any player that receives ten or more minutes in a given game. Early on, the rotation was as large as nine deep. But in the past three games, Wright hasn’t given extended minutes to more than six or seven players.

Villanova’s Rotation by Game

Opponent Rotation 20+ Min 10-19 Min 5-9 Min <5 Min
Opponent Rotation 20+ Min 10-19 Min 5-9 Min <5 Min
Morgan State 9 5 4 2 0
Quinnipiac 9 6 3 2 0
Michigan 8 4 4 2 0
Furman 7 5 2 1 0
Canisius 8 6 2 2 1
Oklahoma St. 8 5 3 0 2
Florida St. 7 5 2 0 0
La Salle 6 6 0 1 2
Temple 8 6 2 0 0
St. Joe's 8 5 3 1 0
Penn 8 5 3 0 1
Kansas 7 5 2 0 1
Uconn 6 6 0 2 4
DePaul 7 5 2 0 0

What’s even more interesting is how the rotation beyond the starters is still shifting. While early on it was Jermaine Samuels and Cole Swider getting extra run, now Wright has been turning to Joe Cremo and Jahvon Quinerly. In fact against DePaul, Samuels and Swider didn’t even get in the game. Meanwhile, Cremo and Quinerly have both averaged over 20 minutes a piece against UConn and DePaul.

So what’s the best way to spread minutes out for this team? At this point Wright is the best judge of that depending on how he’s approaching the defense. He’s likely limited in his options based on which players are comfortable with the more complex defensive and offensive schemes. As the supporting players get more playing time and learn the system, those sets should continue to expand back to the flexibility and breadth we saw last year.

As for the specific personnel, I think we’re still in a ‘hot hand’ situation. Ideally the rotation would expand back out to 8 or 9 with Samuels and Swider getting more minutes and keeping everyone’s legs fresh for the end of games. But when that’s going to happen, I’m not sure even Wright knows. Hopefully it’s sooner than later.

In other “news”, Villanova defeats DePaul, more Big East predictions, and Mikal Bridges is still very good at basketball. Enjoy!

Villanova defeats DePaul

Villanova recovers from early deficits, defeats DePaul, 73-68 | The Inquirer
The Wildcats trailed by 14 points in the first half and 11 in the second, but prevailed by forcing 18 turnovers and getting 24 points from Eric Paschall.

Second half woes continue: DePaul falls to Villanova 73-68 | The DePaulia
DePaul’s first game of 2019 looked a lot like the last couple to end 2018 as another halftime lead slipped away from DePaul (8-5; 0-2 Big East), this time a 73-68 defeat at the hands of defending national champion Villanova (10-4; 1-0 Big East) Wednesday night at Finneran Pavillion. Early on, DePaul took advantage of...

Big East

9 college basketball conference champions predicted at the midway point of the season | NCAA.com
Andy Katz goes through the conference races and NCAA tournament prospect as conference play kicks in.

NBA Wildcats

Suns Mikal Bridges Is Proving His Game Can Work On Any NBA Team | UPROXX
The rookie is Philly tough even if he’s not at home in Philly, and he’s proving it in Phoenix.