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Finding a Happy Medium for Villanova Basketball 2019-2020 Expectations

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How to keep your feet on the ground but keep reaching for the stars!

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Happy Monday Nova Nation! I’ve been hearing from a number of Wildcat fans this offseason, and like their favorite team their expectations for the season are a bit unpredictable. You have those that see Top 10 rankings and expect Villanova to make a Final Four run because it’s an even season and that’s what they do now. You also have those that would be happy just to make the NCAA Tournament with a squad so young and inexperienced. So how do you balance these expectations? Here are three quick tips as we enter another season of Villanova basketball.

1) Recognize Recency Bias

This is a weird season in which recency bias is a double edged sword. First you’ll have those who focus on last season’s early collapse of a younger team and the underwhelming performance of highly rated freshmen recruits. To those I say you can’t paint “freshmen” with the same brush. This year’s class is not last year’s class. And last year’s class will almost assuredly be improved from what they were a year ago. And yes, while this team may stumble a few times early in the season, they don’t have those senior players to lean on. That means the young players will likely develop faster, and have a bigger impact than what we saw last year. Don’t let a rough start make you think this team is doomed, last year’s team took four non-conference losses and turned them into a Big East Championship.

Speaking of that Championship, let’s not be blinded by Nova’s recent run of success either. While the Wildcats will be in the running for the Big East, it’s by no means a lock like it’s been in recent years. It’s entirely possible that Villanova has a great year and still finishes second or third in the regular season. That doesn’t mean Nova is bad, it’s just how good the Big East could be this season. Sometimes those outcomes aren’t about if the team you root for is good or bad, it’s a bit more nuanced. For the first time in a while, Villanova isn’t head and shoulders above the competition. But that’s more because the competition has made the jump up than Villanova has fallen down.

2) Have Patience with Youth

It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Villanova loses a game or two in the first month of the season. Before last year, Nova had gone five straight seasons without dropping a game in November. But honestly, that’s more of an expectation for experienced teams. Now Villanova is young, and it’s going to have some growing pains. The important thing is not to overreact at the first sign of adversity. Fans were understandably upset when Villanova started the 2019 season 2-2, but there were crazy overreactions like “they can’t make the NCAA Tournament” or “Jay Wright has lost his touch”. Young teams may struggle early, but they also grow and improve much faster than experienced teams. Why do you think Duke hasn’t won the ACC regular season crown in nearly 10 years but has won two of the last three ACC Tournaments? With good coaching (which Villanova has) young teams grow up quickly, especially when there aren’t two 5th year future NBA players to lean on.

3) Old Dogs Do Learn New Tricks

It’s weird to call any player on this team “old” considering there are only five upperclassmen, and that includes a walk-on and a redshirt. But just because we’ve seen Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree play for two seasons doesn’t mean there isn’t room for their games to grow. Gillespie will be truly taking over the offense this year, not just interning for Phil Booth like last season. Jermaine Samuels will be expected to come up big offensively and defensively, not just praised for unexpected performances. And Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree will need to anchor the defense, not just be another name in the sea of Villanova forwards. These asks are high, but not unreachable. And simply because the fan base hasn’t seen it before, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Time and time again we’ve seen Villanova players make big jumps between their sophomore and junior seasons. I’d expect at least two if not all three members of this trio to step up now that it’s their team to lead.

In other “news”, the Special Olympics was a huge success this weekend, Villanova Football drops a third consecutive game, and Josh Hart sits down with Darryl Reynolds. Enjoy!

Villanova Basketball

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Big East

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NBA Wildcats

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Villanova Football

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College Basketball

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