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Three surprising stat leaders for Villanova Basketball

You know the leaders of the Wildcats, but other players have been quietly performing better than the rest.

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Happy Tuesday Nova Nation! The Big East Tournament kicks off tomorrow, and Villanova will spend the day watching and waiting to find out who they’ll be facing in the early game on Thursday.

The Wildcats have gone through some ups and downs this season, but through all of it two players have been most accountable for this team’s success and failures. Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, the senior captains, have been nothing short of the pillars this team is built upon. One or both of them lead the Wildcats in almost every major stat category, including points, assists, and rebounds.

However, a few players have used their skill sets to step up in specialized areas. Now heading into the conference tournament, they actually lead the team in ways that are at least a little surprising. Here are three players that currently lead the team in key stats.

3Point FG% - Saddiq Bey

Before the season started many Villanova fans thought Bey was a likely redshirt candidate who probably wouldn’t see the court. Today, he’s a starter averaging nearly 30 minutes per game and is Top 3 on the team in both FG% and rebounds. But what NOBODY could have predicted is that on a team loaded with shooters, he’d be the most efficient weapon from beyond the arc.

When reports from the UNC secret scrimmage came out that he had drained 5 threes, it seemed more anomaly than precursor. Sure, he had started out as a guard and had shown some signs of outside shooting, but nothing like this. Now he’s hit at least one three in 15 of his last 16 games, and he’s shooting 42.5% in Big East play. For those of you counting, that’s the 4th best 3FG% in the conference. If Villanova is going to win another Big East Tournament Title, they’ll need their best marksman to stay sharp.

Steals - Collin Gillespie

There have been a number of knocks on Gillespie’s defensive prowess this season, and they’re not all without some merit. The toughest thing for Gillespie has been staying in front of his man when facing off with some of the Big East’s most talented isolaters. It’s a combination of agility, speed, and footwork that he’s still working to improve. But where no one has been able to best him this year is in effort. You may get by him a few times, but at some point you’re going to pay when he reads your move and picks your pocket.

Gillespie is the only player on the team that averages more than a steal per game (1.2). He has a Steal Percentage in Big East play of 2.6%, and while that may seem small he ranks Top 10 in Big East play. With 35 steals on the season, he ranks 13th in the Big East overall. His ability to create extra possessions for the Wildcats will be key to Nova advancing through the tournament.

Offensive Rating - Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree

Cosby-Roundtree doesn’t just lead Villanova in offensive rating, he leads the entire Big East. Not only that, he’s Top 5 in the country. Yes, I agree, that doesn’t seem right for a player who averages just over 5 points per game. But there are two factors that explain his super high rating.

First it’s important to understand the change in his minutes, which have been significantly lowered since his leg injury at the beginning of Big East play. Since then he’s playing 5.3 fewer minutes per game, and Jermaine Samuels has taken over as the starter. However, Cosby-Roundtree has remained highly efficient in his scoring opportunities. He’s shooting a team high 67% from inside the arc, which ranks 2nd in the Big East and 32nd nationally.

But the biggest factor in his offensive rating is his offensive rebounds. Given his limited minutes, it’s amazing that he’s pulled in 78 offensive rebounds in just 638 minutes. He’s quietly having the greatest offensive rebounding season of any Wildcat playing more than 300 minutes since Jason Fraser. He ranks 18th in the country for OR%, and 3rd in Big East play. Cosby-Roundtree’s combination of efficient scoring and offensive rebounding is a huge asset to Villanova. Now he just needs to stop committing fouls long enough to stay on the court.

It’s going to take more than a few players performing at a high level to win the Big East Tournament. Everyone is going to have to step up their game if this team is going to win three times in three days. But the fact that these players have been able to consistently perform over the course of the season is a great sign for Villanova.

In other “news”, Villanova’s pros and cons heading into the tournament, Big East Tournament build up, and the NCAA took a step towards paying players. Enjoy!

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