Over the next few days, we will be previewing the Villanova Wildcats’ 2019-20 basketball schedule. After looking at the first half of the non-conference schedule, we resume with a look at the rest of the non-conference opponents by diving into the Big 5 and games against the Delaware Blue Hens, Kansas Jayhawks, and UConn Huskies.
La Salle Explorers
Head Coach: Ashley Howard (2nd season)
Previous Season Record: 10-21, 8-10 A-10 -- Lost in Atlantic 10 opening round to Rhode Island
Key Players: #10 Isiah Deas (6-6, 200) Sr., G; #13 Saul Phiri (6-4, 215) Sr. G; #5 Jack Clark (6-8, 182) So., G; #1 David Beatty (6-2, 200) Jr. G
Key Departures: Traci Carter, Pookie Powell
Outlook: It was a rough start for the La Salle Explorers last season, losing their first 10 games before going 10-10 the rest of the regular season. La Salle lost a couple of key players, most notably Pookie Powell, who proved to be an impact transfer after arriving. The Explorers need Isiah Deas and Saul Phiri to continue their upswings. They will be looked upon more as the key veteran presences. Sophomore Jack Clark and junior David Beatty, two local-area players, both showed promise as underclassmen, and La Salle will need them to step up even further. The Explorers had a rough start last season, and they’ll hope to start this year on a much better note.
Head Coach: Steve Donahue (5th season)
Previous Season Record: 19-12, 7-7 Ivy League -- Lost to Harvard in Ivy League Tournament semifinals
Key Players: #25 A.J. Brodeur (6-8, 240) Sr., F; #12 Devon Goodman (6-0, 170) Sr., G; #21 Bryce Washington (6-4, 180) So., G; #23 Michael Wang (6-10, 220) So., F
Key Departures: Antonio Woods, Jake Silpe
Outlook: There’s a sour taste left over from last season that needs to be resolved. The Penn Quakers stunned the ‘Cats, which led to a social media firestorm on Instagram, and they went on to win an outright Big 5 title. So, bow to your Big 5 king? Villanova will get a shot at revenge. Penn had just outplayed the ‘Cats for a majority of the game, playing a clean, efficient, and smart brand of basketball. Against a young ‘Nova squad, the experienced Quakers will hope to trip Villanova again. The Quakers still have their top guys from last season, A.J. Brodeur and Devon Goodman. Brodeur averaged a team-high 17.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. Meanwhile, Goodman proved to be one of the team’s better shooters, and he put in 13.9 points per game. The Quakers didn’t lose too much outside of Antonio Woods and Jake Silpe, and they’ll look to make another run at the Big 5 crown.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks
Head Coach: Billy Lange (1st season)
Previous Season Record: 14-19, 6-12 A-10 -- Lost to Davidson in A-10 Tournament quarterfinals
Key Players: #33 Taylor Funk (6-8, 230) Jr., F; #1 Ryan Daly (6-5, 225) Jr., G
Key Departures: Lamarr Kimble, Charlie Brown, Jared Bynum, Chris Clover
Outlook: Longtime Saint Joseph’s Hawks head coach Phil Martelli has been ousted from his spot, after three seasons at-or-below .500 since St. Joe’s previous NCAA Tournament appearance. St. Joe’s brings in former Philadelphia 76ers assistant Billy Lange to take over. It’s Lange’s first foray in college hoops since his days as an assistant coach for Jay Wright, before taking his post with the Sixers. The Hawks are in search of an identity, and they are in rebuild mode after losing their top-four players last season--most notably Charlie Brown and Lamarr Kimble. Local-area guys Taylor Funk and Ryan Daly will look to be the top contributors this season. Funk is looking to bounce back from hitting a sophomore slump after a promising freshman season. Funk struggled and saw his production drop. Known for his three-point shooting, he shot just 30.5 percent from deep and struggled to find his stroke all year. As for Daly, he’s returned to the area after spending two seasons at Delaware, where he was the leading scorer in both of his seasons there. He also hit the 1,000 point mark while he was there. The Hawks will need a scorer to go to, and he might just very well be that guy.
Delaware Blue Hens
Head Coach: Martin Ingelsby (4th season)
Previous Season Record: 17-16, 8-10 CAA -- Lost to Hofstra in CAA Tournament Semifinals
Key Players: #0 Ryan Allen (6-2, 200) Jr., G; #1 Kevin Anderson (6-5, 190) Jr., G
Key Departures: Eric Carter, Ithiel Horton
Outlook: Villanova’s back in the Never Forget Tribute Classic, after previously playing in it during a monster performance from Josh Hart against Notre Dame. The ‘Cats might be back, but this time around, it’s not against a notable opponent. It could have been the Dylan Painter revenge game, but the former Wildcat is ineligible until after the end of the fall semester. This game falls just before the end of the first semester. The Blue Hens will look to Ryan Allen and Kevin Anderson to lead the team after the graduation of leading scorer and rebounder, Eric Carter. Also, Ithiel Horton decided to take his talents over to Pitt. Regardless, this was a team that struggled defensively, ranked among the worst teams in Division I hoops. While it’s important for them to figure out how they’re going to replace the production, they’ll need to get organized defensively as well.
Head Coach: Bill Self (17th season)
Previous Season Record: 28-10 overall, 12-6 Big 12 -- Lost to Iowa State in Big 12 championship game, lost to Auburn in NCAA Tournament Round of 32.
Key Players: #35 Udoka Azubuike (7-0, 270) Sr., C; #1 Devon Dotson (6-2, 185) Sr G
Key Departures: Dedric Lawson, Lagerald Vick, Quentin Grimes
Outlook: The home-and-home series heads to the Wells Fargo Center, after a loss in the Phog last season. For Kansas, that previous trip to Philadelphia was not a happy one, as the ‘Cats were able to fend them off at home. The Jayhawks will start the year ranked very high, coming in at No. 3. They lost a number of key players from last season, particularly Dedric Lawson and Lagerald Vick, who just tormented the ‘Cats all game long last season. With those guys gone, the season will hang in the balance of proven guys, like Devon Dotson or Udoka Azubuike. Dotson, a former five-star recruit coming out of high school, made an immediate impact in the way he was able to be a two-way threat, making plays on offense and defense. As for Azubuike, injuries kept him off the court, but now that he’s healthy, can he return to being that top-level bruiser inside?
Head Coach: Danny Hurley (2nd season)
Previous Season Record: 16-17, 6-12 AAC -- Lost to Houston in AAC Tournament quarterfinals
Key Players: #1 Christian Vital (6-2, 187) Sr., G; #3 Alterique Gilbert (6-0, 180) Jr., G; #25 Josh Carlton (6-11, 260) Jr., F/C
Key Departures: Jalen Adams
Outlook: The Huskies will play Villanova one last time as a member of the American Athletic Conference. The Wildcats haven’t had much difficulty in facing off against UConn so far, routing them in the first two installments of the three-year series. Now, the trilogy comes to an end, and with UConn bidding farewell to three-time All-Conference selection Jalen Adams after last season, things may get even uglier for the Huskies. The guard tandem of Christian Vital and Alterique Gilbert will now be at the forefront for the Huskies. They were previously nice supplementary pieces to Adams, with both averaging double figures in scoring last season. They have the most playing experience, with both seeing huge minutes since they first arrived on campus. Also keep an eye out for Josh Carlton down low, the 6-foot-11 junior saw an improved season last year, averaging 9.0 points and a team-high 6.2 boards per game, while boosting his shooting percentage to 60.7 percent. UConn does bring in a couple of four-star freshmen in Jalen Gaffney and James Bouknight (who has had his legal issues early), as well as three-star forward Richard Springs.
Head Coach: Aaron McKie (1st year)
Previous Season Record: 23-10, 13-5 AAC -- Lost to Wichita State in AAC Tournament quarterfinals; lost to Belmont in the NCAA Tournament First Four
Key Players: #1 Quinton Rose (6-8, 185) Sr., G; #15 Nate Pierre-Louis (6-4, 200) Jr., G
Key Departures: Shizz Alston Jr., Ernest Aflakpui
Outlook: ‘Nova will take a mid-February break from conference play to finish off Big 5 play with a showdown against the Temple Owls. Like St. Joe’s, Temple has a new head coach taking over for its longtime predecessor. The Owls no longer have their top scorer from last season, Shizz Alston Jr., but they should be in good hands with Quinton Rose and Nate Pierre-Louis. Rose has been a key contributor since first arriving at Temple’s campus. He’s averaged over 14 points per game throughout the last two seasons. He has seen his name appear in some mock draft, floating anywhere between late first round to second round, likely showing appeal in being a 6-foot-8 guard and having a size advantage over most his position. Then there’s Nate Pierre-Louis, who has established himself as one of the better two-way players in the American. Pierre-Louis started to become more of an offensive contributor last season, averaging about 13 points per game, while still maintaining his status as a tough defender. These two upperclassmen will do a lot of the carrying, so certainly watch out for them.