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Villanova Basketball impressive in season debut

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The younger Wildcats were on display, and look as good as advertised

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Happy Wednesday Nova Nation! It’s a great day to be a Wildcat as Villanova simply dominated an over-matched Army team for their first victory of the season. The whole team looked impressive, but the big breakout performance of the night was Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. The star freshman put up 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Wildcats in both categories. Saddiq Bey was also impressive with 22 points of his own in the 97-54 blowout.

But beyond the brilliant performances and easy win, there are a couple of things to keep in perspective moving forward. Here are three individual takeaways from last night’s game.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will keep getting better

In his first to college level games against USC and Army, Robinson-Earl is averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds. As good as everyone thought he could be, I don’t think anyone was expecting him to be double-double good right out of the gate. Jay Wright even said he’s done being surprised by how good this kid can be. But even with those lofty numbers, there are still areas for improvement.

The biggest one on display last night was turnovers in the paint. When Robinson-Earl’s number was called, especially in the first half, he was trying to do a little too much on his own when the defense keyed in on him. Instead of passing back out, he’d try to spin through the defense or force his way through a double team, resulting in 5 first half turnovers.

But once again, even the freshman’s flaws are signs of how great he can be. Wright said after the game that he really got on Robinson-Earl at halftime about the turnovers. The rookie didn’t mope or gawk at the criticism, he welcomed the challenge and made a point of correcting it in the second half. Check the box score, he didn’t have another turnover the rest of the game.

Cole Swider is a double edged sword

For those waiting for Swider to show why he was such a highly ranked recruit, you got a good look at what he can do offensively tonight. He had 18 points while shooting 66% from both the field and behind the arc, while adding 6 rebounds and 2 assists. That’s exactly the kind of production Villanova needs from the up and coming sophomore off the bench this season.

However, Army isn’t exactly the toughest of opponents. Even against this level of competition, Swider continues to be challenged on the defensive end. He’s above average on the interior, but when forced to guard out on the perimeter his lateral quickness allows faster players to get around him and opens up opportunities for the opponent. It can also lead to costly fouling, and last night Swider led the Wildcats with 4 fouls.

Swider can certainly be a major factor off the bench, and looks to be Villanova’s primary 6th man until Bryan Antoine returns. But in order to consistently reach the level of offensive production we saw last night, he’ll have to continue improving on the defensive end.

Eric Dixon may be the one who red shirts this season

In order to qualify for a non-medical redshirt, a player can’t see a single second of court time during the season. After Nova’s first game in which every other player including the walk-ons got onto the floor, Eric Dixon is the lone player who still qualifies.

When I asked Wright after the game why Dixon was held out, his response was “I didn’t get a ruling on wheter I’m allowed to say or not, but nothing bad. Just a coach’s decision right now, but nothing bad at all. Just saving him up.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s in line for a red shirt, but it doesn’t rule it out either. Dixon was participating in pregame warmups and was dressed to play. It still could be an injury, rules infraction, or any other number of reasons. But for now, it’s something to keep an eye on given the team’s extensive depth in the front court.

In other “news”, Eric Paschall is the new darling of the NBA, Saddiq Bey is named to the Wooden Award Watch List, and Women’s Soccer prepares for their Big East Semi-Final Game with Xavier. Enjoy!

Villanova Men’s Basketball

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Bey Named to Wooden Award Watch List | Villanova University Athletics
Saddiq Bey is on the Wooden Award Preseason Watch List

Villanova Defeats Army

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The Wildcats played great basketball in the opening 14 minutes, taking a 31-point lead, and won going away with a strong final 10 minutes.

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl became one of the handful of Villanova freshmen to start an opener in 19 seasons under Jay Wright.

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Freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lift No. 10 Villanova past Army 97-54 in the season opener for both schools on Tuesday.

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Jeremiah Robinson-Earl became one of the handful of Villanova freshmen to start an opener in 19 seasons under Jay Wright.

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Jeremiah Robinson-Earl became one of the handful of Villanova freshmen to start an opener in 19 seasons under Jay Wright. Inexperienced? Perhaps. Sensational? Absolutely.

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Villanova used an early burst to pull away from Army Tuesday night in its season opener.

Big East

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First, several stars — Myles Powell, Markus Howard and Naji Marshall — returned. Then, the Big East welcomed back a former marquee member (UConn).

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Myles Powell had a solid opening game to pace No. 12 Seton Hall.

Men's Big East Preview | The Georgetown Voice
Since 2013-14, Villanova has finished first in the conference every season but 2017-18, when they won both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.

Big 5

Billy Lange wins St. Joseph’s coaching debut, 86-81 over Bradley | Philadelphia Inquirer
Much of the crowd at Hagan Arena chanted Lange’s name after the final buzzer, saluting the coach who replaced Phil Martelli last spring.

Nate Pierre-Louis leads Temple to sloppy opening-night win over Drexel | Philadelphia Inquirer
Temple wins its first game under new basketball coach Aaron McKie.

Penn men's basketball knocks off Alabama, 81-80, behind Dingle's game-winner | The Daily Pennsylvanian
In a fast-paced, back-and-forth contest on Tuesday night, Penn men’s basketball opened the season with an 81-80 victory against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Eric Paschall

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Jay Wright, Eric Paschall's college coach at Villanova said, "He’s got the ability to score and he’s willing to do all the other things."

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Taken 41st overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, Paschall scored 25 points against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday and 34 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

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You can bet Chris Mullin enjoyed watching Eric Paschall dominate for his former squad, rather than against it.

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After going for 34 points and 13 rebounds on his 23rd birthday, Paschall has put himself on the Rookie of Year radar.

The Golden State Warriors Have Found A Player In Eric Paschall | Forbes
The Warriors will spend this season looking for players who can be part of their next great team. In Eric Paschall, they have already found one.

NBA Wildcats

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Donte DiVincenzo has played quite well off the Milwaukee Bucks' bench these last three games and is making a strong case for more playing time.

Long Island Nets waive Joe Cremo, Ismael Sanogo, finalize opening day roster | NetsDaily
The Long Island Nets have finalized their 12-man opening day roster, waiving guard Joe Cremo and forward Ismael Sanogo. Both are former Big East players, Cremo at Villanova, Sanogo at Seton Hall.

Villanova Women’s Basketball

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DePaul named the overwhelming favorite to win the BIG EAST Conference in 2019-20. The upcoming season will be the last before the return of UConn.

Women's Basketball Opens the Season Wednesday Night vs. George Washington | Villanova University Athletics
Villanova will open the 2019-20 season on Wednesday, Nov. 6, with a home date versus the George Washington Colonials. The Wildcats were picked to finish in a fifth

Villanova Football

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There are three more football weekends to go before FCS Playoff Selection Sunday, where FCS Nation hopes ESPN pronounces all the schools' names correctly and don't forget to specify who is home, and who is away in the first round.

Villanova Athletics

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Villanova jumps into the rankings at #24

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Villanova comes in at #28 after not receiving any votes last week.

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Villanova faces Seton Hall Wednesday night.

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College Basketball

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Our team at The Athletic College Basketball makes their predictions for the 2019-20 season.

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But don’t put too much money on November’s No. 1 seeds making it all the way to Atlanta.

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This title is not a joke.