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Revisiting the 2019 Preseason Bold Predictions for Villanova Basketball

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Guys, I got so many right this time!

Saint Mary’s v Villanova Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Seven months ago as we were ramping up for the 2018-19 season, I went out on a limb and made some bold predictions. Sixteen to be exact, three team predictions, one for every scholarship player, and one for the bench mob. I stressed that these were BOLD predictions, and that they probably wouldn’t be true. However, I did say that if these ended up coming to fruition, it would be one hell of a season.

Well one hell(ish?) of a season later, Villanova was no where close to what we thought they’d be to start the year. Considering that last season I went just 1 for 11 on these bold predictions, I didn’t have much hope for them this time around! So as a nice bookend to the 2018-2019 season, lets take a look back and see how right (or very, very wrong) I was.

Team Predictions

No players will redshirt this season (non-medical)

It’s always nice to start off with a win, but I kind of wish I had been wrong on this one. Despite what fans may have debated throughout the season, every player on this team burned their ability to redshirt in the very first game of the season. The thought in the off-season had been that Saddiq Bey may be a candidate, but he turned out to have the greatest impact of the freshman class.

In an ideal world, Brandon Slater would probably have been the player to sit this season out and focus on improving his skills and putting on weight. He only played in 15 of Villanova’s 36 games, averaging just 3.5 minutes. But the freshman class outside of Bey was so raw to start the year that it’s likely Wright really didn’t know who would be able to contribute at that point, and it made sense to keep everyone available. Hopefully we’ll see that translate as that group enters their sophomore season and Villanova’s roster gets even deeper.

Brendan’s Record: 1-0

Villanova will not go undefeated in Big 5 play

Like in the video above, I may have gotten the question right but I did not enjoy the reward. Did I jynx us on this one? Not really. I may have gotten the call right, but my reasoning was that it would be La Salle and Ashley Howard that finally ended the Jay Wright reign over Philadelphia. But Penn? PENN!?!?!? Their coach couldn’t hack it at Big East reject Boston College, and yet he finds a way to make Jay Wright and crew look silly? Ugh.

However, if there’s a silver lining to losing this game, Villanova’s longest Big 5 winning streak is now over St. Joe’s. The hawk has been dead going on 7 seasons now.

Brendan’s Record: 2-0

The Wildcats Big East regular season record: 17-1

This was a VERY bold prediction, meant simply to highlight Villanova’s back-loaded schedule giving the team time to gel together. The fact that a one loss conference record was possible until February 17th is AMAZING. No, I didn’t get this right, but Nova’s run through the first half of their Big East schedule isn’t even mentioned anymore because of their collapse before winning both conference titles.

Starting the conference record 10-0 was a BIG deal. It was the best Big East start in school history, and they even went to 11-1 before losing three in a row. While this team may have had some low points and surely didn’t meet every expectation, their high points were still pretty darn high!

Brendan’s Record: 2-1

Player Predictions

Phil Booth will lead Villanova in scoring

While at the end of the season this sounds about as bold as claiming Jay Wright will wear mostly suits next year, that wasn’t always the case. Back in October, all the buzz was around Eric Paschall taking over as the team’s leading scorer. This was bolstered by some impressive reports following his workouts with NBA players like Kevin Durant. Booth would surely be a prolific scorer as well, but Paschall was the early favorite to be the workhorse.

Both Seniors ended up with huge roles and terrific seasons, but Booth came out ahead in the points column. Was he the favorite heading in? No. Was it a two horse race that was more a coin-flip than this “bold” prediction warranted.... probably.

Brendan’s Record: 3-1

Eric Paschall will have career highs in all five per game stat categories

Villanova’s senior captain set new highs in both points (16.5) and rebounds (6.1) per game this season, which obviously is a great accomplishment. But as far as my prediction goes, he came up .2 steals, .1 assists, and .1 blocks away from career highs in his per game stats. It was an amazing season for Paschall, and he’s going to be sorely missed when he leaves for the NBA this spring. He leaves behind a legacy of Championships and some of the greatest dunks we’ve ever seen.

Brendan’s Record: 3-2

Joe Cremo will hit a game winning shot

On November 22nd in Orlando, Joe Cremo got a hand-off pass from Cole Swider, giving him just enough space to splash a three from deep and clinch Villanova’s victory over Canisius. Ok, there was still 12:38 remaining in the second half when his three put the Wildcats up 58-39. But because the final score was 83-56, that was technically the winning basket for Villanova. For what it’s worth, he also “technically” had the winning basket against Temple, and assisted on two more game winning shots.

It wasn’t a Kris Jenkins moment by any stretch, and this certainly isn’t what I had in mind when I made the prediction. But like an ugly win, I’m going to take it. Cremo didn’t have the stats he or any of the fans would have liked to finish off his collegiate career. But he played hard, did everything that was asked of him, and will always be a Villanova Wildcat.

Brendan’s Record: 4-2

Tim Delaney will double his career scoring total

Tim Delaney had entered his Junior season with six career points on two made threes. In his final season with the Wildcats, Delaney appeared in just seven games and only scored one point on two free throw attempts. Delaney will forever be a part of the “what if” conversation due to his three hip surgeries before even getting a full season with the Cats. Now he’s transferred to play out his final season with his younger brother at DII Adelphi. While his career at Villanova won’t be remembered for his contributions on the court, he will forever be remembered as one of just a handful of Wildcats to be a part of two National Championships.

Brendan’s Record: 4-3

Dylan Painter will finish Top 5 on the team in rebounding and blocks

By all accounts Painter worked his butt off this offseason in order to be a contributor for the ‘Cats this season. But three games in, including a DNP against Michigan, it became clear that Painter wasn’t going to have the role with the team he was hoping for. With that, he decided to move on and transferred to Delaware. I can’t blame him, like Delaney he did everything that was asked of him in this program. Even with only two games played, he still finished 9th in blocks and 11th in rebounds. We wish him the best next year with the Blue Hens, because once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.

Brendan’s Record: 4-4

Collin Gillespie will finish Top 3 on the team in scoring, assists, and steals

By the time these predictions were published, we knew that Gillespie was likely going to be a part of the starting rotation. Still, we didn’t know how big a role he’d play and many were doubting his ability to excel at the point guard position. He’s still not a true point guard, but he sure proved some people people wrong, especially on the defensive side. Gillespie finished the season with 39 steals (1st on team), 97 assists (2nd on team), and 380 points (3rd on team).

Heading into next season, Gillespie will be the team’s most senior leader. Whether he’ll reprise his role as the starting point guard has yet to be seen, but either way we should expect even more from the rising junior in 2020.

Brendan’s Record: 5-4

Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree will break his streak of 18 consecutive made shots

It’s human nature to linger on the bad times and forget some of the good things that happened, and is often true in sports. In our 2019 player recap for DCR, people are already posting that he didn’t know what to do with the ball in his hands because they are focusing on a handful of poor late season performances. What they forget is how beastly DCR was for the first half of the season before his leg injury. And that of course includes a five game stretch in which Cosby-Roundtree went 16 of 16 from the floor, just shy of last year’s 18 consecutive made baskets.

But even more important than his offense this season, was his rebounding, specifically offensive rebounding. Over 43% of his 209 rebounds were on the offensive glass, which is an insane number. His OR% of 14.5% was the best of anyone playing meaningful minutes under Jay Wright since Jason Fraser in 2005. That and his 64.8% shooting (53rd nation wide) landed him 6th in the country in KenPom’s Offensive Ratings. He may come off the bench the rest of his Villanova career, but he may be one of the most consistent Wildcats on both sides of the floor.

Brendan’s Record: 5-5

Jermaine Samuels will have at least two double-doubles this season

At a quick glance, Jermaine Samuels had zero double-doubles this season, so you’d think this was a big fat “L” for yours truly. But if you dive deeper, you find that Samuels came VERY close to making this prediction come true. Twice he finished with double digit points and 9 rebounds, and another time he finished with 11 rebounds but was just one basket shy of the double-double. Well here’s a not so bold prediction for you, NEXT season he will get at least two double-doubles!

Brendan’s Record: 5-6

Jahvon Quinerly will break Villanova’s freshman assist record

If you’re not on the court, it’s hard to break any records. Quinerly finished with less than 1 assist per game on the season, and now we wait to see if the only true point guard on Villanova’s roster will stick around for next season.

I hope he does, because the advanced statistics show that even in limited minutes he actually was doing a pretty good job distributing the ball. In per 40 minute (3.9) and per 100 possesion (5.9) statistics, Quinerly actually finished 2nd on the team behind only Booth. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s ahead of Villanova’s current starting point guard Collin Gillespie. Even in just the time he was on the court, his assist % (estimated percentage of teammate field goals player assisted on while on the court) was 19.9%, again 2nd highest on the team. For these reasons, and many others, I’m strongly in the camp that hopes Quinerly returns and takes over the starting point guard role next year.

Brendan’s Record: 5-7

Cole Swider will shoot over 45% from beyond the arc

Swider came into the program tagged as “the next great Villanova shooter”, and he still very much could be. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite show in his first season on campus. Unlike Quinerly and Slater, Swider was averaging over 10 minutes per game prior to breaking his hand. But the playing time didn’t really help, and his shooting remained under 30% through January.

There was some glimpses of what he could be when he returned to the floor in March. In an extremely small sample size, Swider shot 40% (2-5) from the floor once he returned. With the losses of Booth and Paschall, Villanova will need some of its young guns to step up from beyond the arc. Nova may shoot fewer threes next season, but not by much. Shoot ‘em up, sleep in the streets.

Brendan’s Record: 5-8

Brandon Slater will win Big East rookie of the week at least once

Not. Even. Close. Don’t get me wrong, Slater absolutely had the talent to win this award. But he just ended up as the last man on the bench, and never saw anything more than mop up duty this season. Slater may be the most interesting player returning next season because we’ve seen so little of his game so far. It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t see the floor next year, but at the same time I couldn’t tell you what to expect.

Brendan’s Record: 5-9

Saddiq Bey will out-rebound the rest of his freshman teammates combined

I don’t think I’ll ever be so proud of a prediction or pick as I am with calling out Bey’s impact preseason. For the record, Bey out rebounded his fellow freshmen 183 to 55, more than tripling their total. But for my victory lap, I’m just going to quote my prediction from November 1st:

“Like most of Nova Nation, I was excited to add another talented player to the roster. However, he was looked at as more of a long term project and redshirt target. And then I saw him play at the Blue/White scrimmage.

He jumped out to me the way Paschall and Ochefu did the first time I saw them play. This is a special player with great physical tools, and I’d be honestly disappointed if he wasn’t playing right away. What was most apparent was his quick decision making and attacking style. He didn’t think twice about putting up open shots or quickly moving the ball around the arc. That’s usually one of the stumbling blocks for freshman.

But what I was most impressed by was his rebounding. It reminded me of Josh Hart, the way he attacked the basketball like it belonged to him and you were trying to steal it. Bey cleared space on the floor, boxed out, crashed from the outside, everything you want in a great rebounder. Especially from young players, Wright values defense and rebounding above all else. If Bey already has that under his belt, not only will he get the minutes needed to be a top rebounder on this team, he’s going to outshine a lot of people while doing it.”

Brendan’s Record: 6-9

The Bench Mob will play in no more than five games this season

Another one I’m not super happy to be right about. With such a young roster, the bench mob never got a chance to get off the bench. Peyton Heck played in 3 games, Tim Saunders saw the floor just once, and Kevin Hoehn will have to wait for next season for his first minutes. Still, these are the hardest working guys on the team, and I have nothing but thanks and praise for everything they do. Best of luck to the two seniors, and looking forward to Hoehn bringing his energy back next season.

Brendan’s Record: 7-9

Well this year’s record is a HUGE improvement over last season’s 1-10 disaster. Either I got better at this basketball stuff or I need to get more bold in my predictions... or both! As far as 2020 predictions go, I’m just going to leave this here if anyone needs it. Let’s Go Nova!