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What will Villanova’s rotation look like next season?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Texas Tech v Villanova Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The coming season is going to be a new experience for the Villanova Wildcats basketball team and its coaching staff. Losing 4 players to the NBA Draft will do that. It is a ton of production to lose, but there is also a familiarity factor.

Wright brought in a quartet of freshmen to help alleviate those concerns. And a graduate transfer. And then there’s Dylan Painter coming off a redshirt. And Jermaine Samuels is back from injury. And Tim Delaney is still a scholarship player, fresh off a season free from injury.

All in all, that is potentially 8 players that didn’t play in last season’s rotation that could be in this season’s rotation. Just 4 players return that played rotational minutes. When’s the last time Villanova entered a season with a ratio like that?

It’s actually kind of scary when you think about it. It’s also incredibly fun to dream about the possibilities.

Last season, Villanova’s top-6 all played ~28+ minutes per game. Collin Gillespie chipped in with 14 mpg and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree got 11. Everybody else was on mop-up duty.

I think it’s likely that we’ll see Jay Wright continue with his preference for a rotation of 7-8 players, despite having 11 able-bodied players. Maybe we see it stretch to 9 in some cases early in the season, but this isn’t going to be a Kentucky-platoon. A couple of guys will be taking a redshirt or riding pine.

Let’s break it down.

The Known Quantities

Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are back. Both will play heavy minutes. At least we hope Booth can and will. If he can avoid the damn injury bug for one last season, he might finally get his star turn.

Paschall, like it or not (and I happen to like it), will probably see more minutes as the nominal ‘5’ this season than last season. The ‘best’ lineup probably has him playing alongside Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, but without him you’re banking on heavy minutes from Painter and/or Swider at the ‘5’ and I’m not ready to make that bet yet until I see them play. Long live the Death Lineup.

Paschall played just shy of 30 mpg last season, while Booth played just under 28 mpg. An increase there is likely becase Jay loves his Seniors, but I don’t think it’ll be all that noticeable.

Heavy-Minute Getters

Let’s define this as guys who are getting at least 20 mpg. I think that’s the following players, as of today (in order of seniority, only):

  • Joe Cremo
  • Collin Gillespie
  • Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree
  • Jahvon Quinerly
  • Cole Swider

I think we’ll see plenty of Booth handling the ball, because Jay loves his Seniors. It’s his comfort blanket. Quinerly is the heir apparent, but there’s a legitimate concern with his defense - as there is with most freshmen to be fair. Still, I’d be downright shocked if he’s not ‘the guy’ leading the offense by the time conference season rolls around.

At the risk of opening another Gillespie debate, I’ll just leave you with this: he plays his ass off, and as long as he plays within himself, he’ll see the floor a bunch. Wright loves him (and as mentioned, loves the ‘older’ players).

DCR will probably start and see the biggest uptick in minutes. Ready or not, his time has come. Him and JQ has the potential to be really fun in the PnR and he’s got serious upside as a defender with his length.

With Swider, his biggest asset is obviously his shooting. It is such a translatable skill to the Villanova offense and he’s THAT good. It’s hard to see him not playing a ton of minutes, espeically with his added ability to provide some height in the frontcourt.

Same goes for Cremo, except he has the added value of 3 years at the D1 level. There’s a learning curve with him too. New team, new scheme, and new level of talent on the opposing end most nights. I’m bullish on him as a solid contributor though.

Now, if you are looking at this list and thinking defense, I have bad news for you. DCR is the most polished, and he’s really not been tested all that much. The rest of them, well, let’s be glass-half-full and say we’ll wait and see.

Filling Out The Rotation

Think of this as the Gillespie/DCR (and even Samuels right before the injury) role from last season. There are 3 guys fighting for 1-2 spots. I don’t see a way that a redshirt is avoided.

  • Dylan Painter
  • Jermaine Samuels
  • Brandon Slater
  • Saddiq Bey

Dylan Painter has the clearest path to PT with a relatively thin frontcourt compared to the rest of the roster. The problem remains that Jay Wright will play small-ball without thinking twice if it is his best lineup. And he has several of those lineups that are available to him.

Last season may have been pretty ‘meh’ for a player with Samuels’ recruiting resume, but I still like the tools he can bring to the game. Hopefully an offseason getting more acclimated to the speed of the college game sets him up for a bigger role. I’m officially in wait-and-see mode, however. His physical tools are exciting, but I’d like to see some more skill and polish to his game.

Slater and Bey are both tantalizing prospects, but they are just running into a crowded roster. In another year, they could be fighting for heavy minutes. This year, they’re really going to have to show out to get those minutes.

I’m a huge fan of Slater and I’d bank on him to get the most minutes out of this group. He can slash and shoot, and his length on defense can cause problems from the get-go. I don’t know the details of Bey’s recruitment, but I’d assume he’s the most likely to redshirt as the last one in.

Is Painter looking at a specialist role? Not totally sure. I’m really anxious to see how the redshirt season treated him. He clearly transformed his body, but whether the foot speed (and thus the defensive ability in the man-to-man) has improved is the biggest question.

Place Your Bets

Fun little exercise - give me your starting lineup and bench players with an estimated minutes per game. Remember those minutes must total 200, lest we have another Wisdom of Crowds experiment where Villanova averages 114 points per game.

Here’s mine as of early July. * indicates a starter, RS is a redshirt.

  • *Jahvon Quinerly (26 mpg)
  • *Phil Booth (30 mpg)
  • *Joe Cremo (22 mpg)
  • *Eric Paschall (32 mpg)
  • *Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (25 mpg)
  • Collin Gillespie (22 mpg)
  • Cole Swider (20 mpg)
  • Brandon Slater (10 mpg)
  • Jermaine Samuels (8 mpg)
  • Dylan Painter (5 mpg)
  • Saddiq Bey (RS)