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Random thoughts on Villanova Basketball

Some musings from my time on the road

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Happy Thursday Nova Nation! Ah, it’s good to be back in the saddle after some quality family time down in the Carolinas with a few beloved Nova classmates. Throw in a Nova win last night and it’s fair to say it was a pretty great trip.

That said, it was a LONG drive. Twelve hours behind the wheel yesterday to be exact. And anytime you give me that much time with that little to do, chances are my mind is going to wander to all things Villanova basketball. So without further ado, here are some thoughts I’ve had in recent weeks but haven’t had the time to write down.

There will be no red shirts

Let’s be clear on one thing, the coaching staff has never and will never “accidentally” blow someone’s redshirt season by putting them in a game. Now that we’ve addressed that ridiculous notion, let’s review the redshirt rules. First off, if any player plays for any amount of time during the season, they can no longer apply for a regular red shirt at the end of the year. In other words, that option went out the window for the entire team after the first half of the first game (yup, Slater played in the first 15 minutes of that one).

As for a medical redshirt, that isn’t something you can just make up an ailment for someone on. You have to have medical proof of something serious, and it has to happen early. Phil Booth needed knee surgery, Donte DiVincenzo broke his foot, and Tim Delaney needed DOUBLE hip surgery. So for those of you wondering if Slater could have gotten a redshirt season, the simple answer is no.

Now Cole Swider does have a legit injury, but he’s already played too many games to qualify. The rule is the injury must have happened in the first half of the team’s season and the player can only have played in 30% of the team’s games. Depending on how far Nova goes this year, Swider’s injury could technically fall in the first half of their season. However, even if Villanova played a max of 40 games (which would mean a Championship run), Swider would only be eligible for a medical redshirt if he played in 12 or fewer games. He’s already played in 16 this season. Hopefully we can all put the redshirt questions to bed now.

Jahvon Quinerly’s minutes aren’t going to increase this season

While I’ve said that Quinerly should be getting more minutes this season, the truth is I’m not his biggest supporter around here. That doesn’t mean I don’t like him or don’t think he can help the team. While I think he should have had more minutes, I also wasn’t among those that have been clamoring for him to get in the game.

With that said, last night was the best I’ve seen him play. He is developing, he is getting better, and he is going to be able to help this team. It’s just probably not going to be this season. That doesn’t mean he isn’t good enough, or that we won’t see him with double digit minutes in a game before the end of the year. But in terms of carving out a role in the rotation, it’s too late.

By mid February, Wright is far more likely to begin honing the rotation than expanding it. It’s why Joe Cremo’s minutes have been down as Jermaine Samuels and Saddiq Bey continue to expand their roles. Similar to Samuels last year, Swider will likely also see limited minutes when he returns. And that brings us back to Quinerly. He will still get minutes here and there, but it’s just to give other guys a quick rest. He’s not getting pulled because of what he is or isn’t doing anymore, he’s getting pulled because that’s the game plan.

The good news is, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a big part of the team in practice or in Wright’s plans for next season. Again, just look at Samuels. It’s unquestionably been a rough start for Quinerly, nothing’s gone as expected. But as has been the case for countless Wildcats before him, patience is greatly rewarded.

Free throws are still a problem

Despite shooting a perfect 14 for 14 as a team in the first half of last night’s game, Nova continued to struggle at the line down the stretch. They were just 5 for 12 in the second half, a putrid 41.6%. I’ve heard the “tired legs” excuse, and I don’t buy it. Phil Booth had five of those seven misses, but most of those happened before the 10 minute mark of the second half. I get that he and Eric Paschall can’t play 40 minutes a night (Booth played 36 and Paschall 34 against Providence), but the misses are coming early in the second half and are coming across the entire team.

Right now this team is shooting 71.8% on the season, ranking 133rd nationally. Both of those marks would be career lows for Jay Wright at Villanova. It’s extremely odd considering that these are far from Nova’s worst shooting teams. But diving a little bit deeper shows us who’s pulling those averages down.

Only four players are shooting under Nova’s team average of 71.8%. The lowest was shockingly Cole Swider, at 53.3%. However with only 15 free throws attempted, he’s merely a blip on the radar. Jermaine Samuels (57.5%) and Saddiq Bey (59.0%) are also both well under the team average. Their combined attempts account for less than 16% of the teams trips to the line, so they’re part of the problem but not the main reason. That leaves the player shooting nearly 25% of the team’s free throws at just 71.5%, Phil Booth.

In his last two games, Booth is just 8 for 16 (50%) from the line. He’s usually better than that, but he’s actually put up a few clunkers throughout the season that have really hurt his average. This is his worst FT% of his career, and the first time he’s been under 80% for the season since his freshman year. Maybe putting in time to expand the rest of his game has taken away from time practicing at the line? I really don’t know, nor do I have any legitimate guess for the decline. But given the clutch gene we know he has, I wouldn’t expect him to finish the season below the team average.

That’s enough random thoughts for now, let’s talk about to how the Wildcats have restarted their streak of not losing back-to-back games.

In other “news”, Naismith is watching the Nova captains, Villanovans are S-M-R-T, and an extra hour of tailgating in South Philly. Enjoy!

Villanova beats Providence

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Eric Paschall scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and No. 13 Villanova rebounded from its first Big East loss by running away from Providence 85-67

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Let’s get this party started…an hour earlier!

College Basketball

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