Happy Thursday Nova Nation! While Hoops Mania was the official first look at the Wildcats 2019-2020 team, tonight’s scrimmage will provide a lot more opportunity to see this squad in action. In particular, there will be three things fans should keep an eye out for.
1) Who’s made the biggest jump?
If Villanova is going to overcome the loss of two players now in the NBA, they’re going to need more than an elite recruiting class. More than one of the holdover Cats will need to step up, but the question is who?
The one I’ll rule out is Gillespie. Not that I’m not expecting him to improve heading into his junior year, but he can’t make the kind of jump his teammates can. He’s already been a captain, the team’s third leading scorer, and the floor general. He’s already being counted on the way we hope his teammates can be.
The most obvious candidates are Jermaine Samuels and Saddiq Bey. Both are returning starters, and will have the most opportunity to contribute early this season. Samuels already began his breakout late last season, and Bey is already being talked about as an NBA prospect.
The other three players to keep an eye on are Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Cole Swider, and Brandon Slater. Cosby-Roundtree showed in last season’s AdvoCare Invitational that he has the upside of putting up a double-double, but it’s unknown if he’ll see that kind of opportunity this season. Swider has the potential to be the team’s best shooter, but his opportunity will be dependent on his defensive progress. Slater’s the real wildcard, and the buzz around him is that he could really turn some heads this season.
2) When will Bryan Antoine play?
The only answer we have from Wright so far is “early December.” But what that really means is still unknown. Is that when they’re expecting Antoine at 100%? Is that when he’ll start seeing the court for games? Or is that when he can participate fully in practice?
After he sat out the Hoops Mania scrimmage, it’s unlikely we see him on the court for Blue/White. So if our answers won’t come on the court, we’ll have to see how much Wright is willing to share. Odds are he’ll stay cautious both in bringing Antoine along and sharing details of his progress. Of all the questions we have going into this scrimmage, this could easily be the one that we still don’t have an answer for.
3) Can the defense rebound?
Last season was the first time since 2012 that Villanova’s defensive efficiency dropped out of KenPom’s Top 30. While it’s unlikely we see any advanced defensive schemes in a scrimmage, what we should look for is the individual defenders with the talent to execute them.
Bey and Samuels showed plenty of promise last season, and hopefully their defense continues to improve. Brandon Slater could become a lock down defender given his frame and athleticism. As for the freshman class, Justin Moore could become one of the better perimeter defenders on the team. It’ll be interesting to see who can stand out on Thursday night.
In other “news”, Villanova Basketball picks up presenting sponsors for their 100th season, Omari Spellman should see increased opportunity with the Warriors, and we’re one day closer to #5 Villanova Football’s showdown with #2 JMU. Enjoy!
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Villanova, Pa.- Villanova is 5-4-3 on the season and 1-1-1 in BIG EAST play. In their last match the Wildcat drew at Butler 1-1 to pick up one point in the conference
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