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Thoughts on Villanova Basketball’s Bryan Antoine

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The freshman phenom is working his way onto the court

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Happy Tuesday Nova Nation! The Kansas win was huge for Villanova, but there was something missing from the victory that I’ve had a lot of people asking me about. More specifically, it was missing someone. For the second time since he was cleared to play, Bryan Antoine recorded a “DNP”. This has led to twitter and email questions like, “what’s going on?”, “is he hurt again?”, and even “is he going to leave early?”.

Let’s start by saying that I have all the same information you do when it comes to Bryan Antoine’s status. Villanova plays health status notoriously close to the vest, and there have been no announcements regarding his health or progress since he became eligible.

That said, let’s use some common sense. When Antoine’s injury was first diagnosed and he had his surgery, the initial timeline was 4-6 months of recovery. If we go with the conservative end of that estimate, it’s just about six months now. That mean’s he’d be recovered, but recovered does not mean ready to jump into the college level and excel.

Let’s start with the fact that while his body may be recovered from the injury and surgery, that doesn’t mean he’s in playing shape. He missed several months of conditioning, weight training, and on court play that the rest of his team spent gaining chemistry on the court. I have all the confidence in the world that Antoine will get there, but it’s been just one month since he was cleared to return to practice. That’s just simply not enough time to get there yet.

While he may be physically capable of competing, and certainly talented enough, he’s still 4 months behind the rest of his team when it comes to basketball activity and learning a complicated Villanova system. People have said that learning the system is a cop-out, but I disagree, especially on the defensive end. In a recent “Inside Villanova Basketball”, his teammate Brandon Slater expressed how important knowing the defense is. To paraphrase, he said something to the extent of, “You have to know what you’re doing, but you also have to know what everyone else is doing or you end up out of place and letting down your teammates.”

So when facing the best teams in the country, like Baylor and Kansas who are also both now ranked in the Top 10, it’s understandable that Wright would still have Antoine on the bench until he can get up to speed. For those of you who say to throw him into a game and let him learn there, the truth is it doesn’t work that way. Yes, game experience is valuable and getting in the game can help. But there isn’t some kind of formula where game experience is 3x better than every day practice. Antoine will get in games, but his first month back isn’t the time to throw him in against the best teams in the country. Nova needs those games to build an NCAA resume. That way they’re still playing when Antoine’s ready to contribute.

When will that be? We don’t know. It could be next month. It could be next year. If I had to guess, I don’t think he’s fully up to speed until February at the earliest. Of course I’m just basing that on instinct, not on insight. Honestly, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to when we can expect Antoine to blossom into the 20+ minute contributor we know he’s capable of being. But in this case patience is a virtue. Wright has shown that he’s willing to put anyone on the court when they’re ready to contribute, but he’s also willing to keep people off when they can’t. So we’ll wait patiently, but the sooner Antoine is the elite prospect we saw in college the sooner Nova will be able to live up to their Top 10 ranking.

In other “news”, more all-decade lists, a big weekend for the Big East, and Maddie Siegrist is unstoppable. Enjoy!

Villanova Men’s Basketball

The best of Philly college basketball this decade ... hmm, where do we start? | The Inquirer
Yes, we’re cheating by making an all-Villanova team and all-everyone else team.

From Gordon Hayward's miss to Kentucky's togetherness: Mike DeCourcy's best college basketball moments of the 2010s | Sporting News
There also were so many marvelous moments to experience that I really couldn’t fit them all into this column.

The 15 best basketball shots of the decade | SBNation.com
What was your favorite shot of the 2010s?

Samuels Honored by Big Five and BIG EAST | Villanova University Athletics
Samuels earns Big Five and BIG EAST honors.

Big East

How the Big East has put college basketball on alert | NCAA.com
Big East college basketball teams combined to go a perfect 10-0 this past weekend. Chances are, the Big East looks to massively surpass last season's NCAA tournament conference team count.

NCAA Basketball Power Rankings: Butler, Villanova rising for the Big East | Busting Brackets
Several NCAA basketball teams made moves in this week's edition of the national power rankings. Butler and Villanova headline as risers from the Big East.

Villanova Basketball Alumni

500-win basketball coaches point toward next milestone | San Diego Union-Tribune

Torrey Pines’ John Olive, St. Augustine’s Mike Haupt not about to hit the brakes.

NBA Wildcats

Raptors’ historic comeback: Kyle Lowry concedes nothing | SBNation.com
The Raptors trailed Dallas by 30 with 15 minutes left, missing a bunch of key players. Lowry didn’t care.

Villanova Women’s Basketball

Philly Women’s College Basketball Week in Review & Awards – December 23rd Edition | Philly College Sports
Siegrist made 13 of 19 from the field, went 6 of 10 from three-point land, and was 9 of 10 from the free throw line. The 41 points were the most scored by a Division I rookie, and set a Gola Arena record for most points scored in a single game by a women’s player.

More honors for Villanova's Seigrist | Sports | delcotimes.com
Villanova’s Maddie Siegrist picked up three more weekly honors Monday. That’s not a surprise. The 6-1 redshirt freshman from Poughkeepsie, New York already has been lauded by the Big East

Siegrist Earns BIG EAST Player of the Week Honors | Villanova University Athletics
NEW YORK – Villanova University redshirt freshman Maddy Siegrist (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) has been named both the Big East Player and Rookie of the Week for her efforts.