Tomorrow evening Villanova will take on St. John's at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will air on CBS Sports Network. Steve Lappas will be calling the game, and he was kind enough to share his thoughts on Villanova's season as a whole, as well as some thoughts on the game tomorrow night and some March Madness.
He started off by saying that "they're unbelievable defensively." Lappas said that has been a key this year. He added that "they've been great offensively, too, especially lately. The three point numbers are up."
In Jay's Guard U system, the lack of depth in the frontcourt has been glaring, however Lappas thinks "they have all the pieces." On the subject of big men, he says, "Especially with the emergence of Darryl Reynolds, it gives them a little more depth in case Ochefu gets into foul trouble. They have another option." He later added that we'll have to see how the two play together; the only time the team has had Daniel Ochefu and Darryl Reynolds 2.0 on the court was in last game against DePaul, and that was with minute restrictions for Ochefu.
According to the former coach, the reason this team can go far is because of the development of Daniel. He believes the Ochefu we saw against NC State will not be coming back. "That being said, this is a team that is playing without a power forward, so making perimeter shots is going to be important again." He thinks the make-or-break of this year's squad is if Ochefu can help out enough when those outside shots are not falling. "And he is [helping out.] I think this team is built better, but in a one-and-done situation anything can happen."
He summed up those points into two questions: Is Ochefu ready to carry the load and score 20 points when the team isn't shooting well? And can these guys do more off the dribble and draw fouls and get to the free throw line if the shots don't fall? Lappas says yes to both.
We all know that Villanova is known for the Round of 32 exits. The CBS broadcaster notes, "When you start playing against those power conference teams that are an 8 or 9 seed that came in 7th or 8th place in the ACC or Big 12, lots of times they show up with guys that can play in the NBA, like NC State last year." He adds that these schools are used to playing number one teams, such as NC State who plays Duke and North Carolina, so they are not intimidated when they play a team with a "1" next to their name because they have done it all year.
His team to win it all is Maryland. He believes they "have four pros" on the team- referring to Melo Trimble, Diamond Stone, Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter- unlike any other school in the nation. He did, however, believe Villanova should be number 1 in the polls, simply because they were ranked number 3 and the Top 2 lost.
It is no surprise that the schools who win March Madness each year are the ones who have the future lottery picks. There was some talk before the season about Jalen Brunson possibly being one-and-done, but the chances of that now are slim to none. Currently the 5-star freshman is fourth on the team at 10.3 PPG and dishes out a touch under 3 assists per game. "I expected more, I'm not going to lie to you," said Lappas about Brunson's play thus far. "Especially based on what he did with USA basketball. He's a good player, don't get me wrong. He's a factor in that he's one of the guys who can do things on any given day. But he certainly not the best player on his team, not even close."
"Is he going to take over a game? No, but that does not mean he will not at some point. He's a really good freshman, not a really good 'Karl-Anthony Towns or 'Anthony Davis' freshman. He's a good player on a really good team. He's a contributor." Considering Villanova's success this season, one may argue that being a 'contributor' is quite alright.
The trait about this year's Villanova team that really sticks out to Lappas is the chemistry. "I had some teams with great chemistry and this team has it too. They play hard, they play together. They're great to watch."
Moving onto the game against St. John's, Lappas attributes the Red Storm's struggles to the loss of Marcus LoVett and Yankuba Sima. "I do think by the end of the year they'll win a game in the conference. They've competed for a good part of the year, they just don't have the talent."
Lappas says with the great recruiting class coming in, the Johnnies be respected soon. "The conference needs St. John's to be good. That's huge. You need St. John's, Villanova, Georgetown. Not only for the old Big East, but for New York. You need a good team in New York."
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