Good teams take losses and move on from them. Great teams take losses and learn from them. And, oh boy, is there a lot of learning to do after the ‘Cats fall to the Johnnies. The No. 3-ranked Villanova Wildcats lost to unranked St. John’s Red Storm on Wednesday night in a 70-59 matchup at the Carnesecca Arena which the Cats have not played at since 1994. Trouble started after Villanova got off to a hot 10-3 start and then nothing seemed to go right for Villanova.
But as we said with every loss comes some lessons, so let’s look at three key takeaways from yesterday’s loss:
Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers.
They are a killer. Uncharacteristically, Villanova gave the ball up too many times. Whether through bad decisions or sloppy passing, the ‘Cats had way more turnovers than assists. Gillespie and other Wildcat guards could not seem to handle the pressure from the St. John’s on-ball defense. The Johnnies did a great job with their full court press, which the Cats struggled with for a bit. In total, Villanova had 17 turnovers which is more than double their average for this season already. Those 17 turnovers led to 19 points for the Johnnies on the other end.
As the saying goes, a team cannot win if you can’t score. The ‘Cats posted their lowest season point total against St. John’s only scoring 59 points.
It’s not always going to be a perfect shooting night, but across the board the Villanova Wildcats had a hard time buying a bucket versus St. John’s. Contested and wide open the Cats couldn’t find the right stroke. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl went 5-14 scoring a team high 14 points. While Collin Gillespie struggled going 2-12 and 0-7 from 3. St. John’s also had a combined 7 blocks yesterday against the Cats.
The team’s overall field goal percentage was 32.0%, while their three-point percentage was an even worse 26.7%.
While the Cats were missing shots, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl managed to grab 17 rebounds in the loss.
Well, one silver lining from yesterday is that we hopefully will not shoot like this again. (Knocking on wood) Also, the team’s shot selection is always something to learn from. The ‘Cats seemed to lean into threes a little too much, rush things, and shy away from contact while going to the paint.
Need Help Ball Handling
Collin Gillespie, a top 20 on Wooden Award watch list, had to battle against last week’s Big East Freshman of the Week, Posh Alexander. Both guards anchor their respective offense, but last night Posh Alexander’s defensive prowess showed.
While Collin Gillespie is usually a standout with the ball, last night he struggled to find his stride and needed help. Caleb Daniels and Justin Moore just did not seem like enough help last night.
Posh Alexander stepped up and hounded Gillespie with full court pressure for most of the game. Posh forced turnovers and bad passes out of Gillespie, and the Cats needed help carrying the ball up court to give Collin a break.
If other teams in the Big East realize the struggles the ‘Cats saw when Gillespie was well guarded, we could see this pattern continue. Daniels and Moore in the future may need to step up and help handle the press to kickstart the offense.
While the ‘Cats look back and learn from this loss, there are some key games coming up. Villanova will face Georgetown this Sunday, Feb. 7, which is a team who upset Creighton on Wednesday, 86-79. Can the Cats get back on track this weekend? We will see!
A bonus takeaway from Wednesday, in other Villanova Basketball News:
A Big Win on A Big Day. Wednesday was National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Villanova Women’s basketball honored the day with a win over Providence. This win made it their fourth win in their last 5 games. As much as we all love Villanova Men’s Basketball, we must also give recognition to a well-rounded women’s program that has had an amazing season so far. First-year coach Denise Dillon and staff have coached this team to 11-3 season, being 6-3 in Big East play so far. With Maddy Siegrist the sophomore scoring machine along with seniors Sarah Mortensen, Raven James and Brianna Herlihy, the Wildcats have put together a highly successful offense and defense that’s worth the watch. Feel free to check out their next game against Big East rival Creighton on Saturday, Feb. 6th at 2 p.m.