Well, that is not how we all pictured that going right?
After an impressive victory over Big 5 rival La Salle, Villanova dropped their second contest of the year on the road at the hands of the Temple Owls, 68-64.
“Temple is a great team,” said fifth-year senior Brandon Slater. “They are very well coached, they are very talented and very disciplined, very physical as well. That is a really great team, so best of luck to them and we have to give them all the credit in the world.”
Temple was extremely disciplined in its game plan for Villanova, as evidenced by the Wildcats’ inability to get any decent looks from beyond the arc. The Owls chased the ‘Cats off the perimeter, stayed home on perimeter shooters and forced Villanova to mostly try and beat them one-on-one. The pressure limited the Wildcats to an uncharacteristic seven shots from long range.
“They just stuck to their game plan,” freshman Mark Armstrong said. “Temple is a good team. They just listened to their coach and executed their gameplan.”
Although Temple seemingly neutralized Villanova’s efforts from deep, coach Kyle Neptune kept his stoic demeanor while talking about what he learned from the loss.
“If teams are going to take away threes, fine, we will take twos,” Neptune said. “We are not going to just take threes to take threes.”
One of the biggest questions facing the ‘Nova Nation following the loss on Friday was regarding a certain senior guard with a familiar last name. Chris Arcidiacono was at the forefront of some criticism this week.
Arcidiacono got the starting nod once again, after Neptune rolled with the same starting five from the Wildcats’ season opener against La Salle.
In the Temple game, Arcidiacono logged two points on 1-of-3 shooting, one assist, one turnover and a team-high 10 rebounds as a guard.
“He was playing really well, especially defensively,” said Neptune of Arcidiacono. “He had 10 rebounds so you’re just comfortable with him out there and that is just how it ended up in the minutes.”
In a hostile road environment, having someone with as much experience and comfort in the Villanova system as Chris Arcidiacono brings a sense of calmness to the guys on the floor.
While Arcidiacono’s role and playing time are a great topic of debate among fans, with injuries and multiple players in early foul trouble against Temple on Friday, there was no other place to go but to look to the veteran guard to provide as many minutes as he did.
As frustrating as the Temple result was, the ‘Cats are back to being upbeat and aren’t even close to hitting the panic button.
“Our guys have to understand that we have to be better,” Neptune said. “I think they have embraced it and they are looking forward to getting back out there and competing.”
Sunday might be a day of rest, but not for the ‘Cats.
“We had guys who just wanted to get better,” said Slater, when asked about the team’s spirits in Sunday’s practice. “We had coaches who wanted us to learn from it, to take the good and the bad from the game, and try to get better and grow”.
Villanova will now turn their attention to a Delaware State team, who is currently ranked 361st out of 363 in the country via KenPom.
Although the game is likely going to be non-competitive, the Wildcats are still treating it as if it is their most important game of the year.
“My first impression [of Delaware State] is that they are going to come out hard,” Armstrong said. “They are going to play together and come out with their best foot forward.”
This may be a lesser opponent, but the Wildcats are not treating it as such.
The Hornets are 1-1 this season. After getting steamrolled by Virginia Tech, 95-57, in their season opener, the Hornets bounced back with a 104-67 win over Division III Immaculata.
If there was ever a game to sort some things out, this would be it. Neptune and company with have every opportunity to tinker with rotations and see how chemistry and game plans work on Monday night.
And who knows, maybe if we are lucky, we will get a Collin O’Toole sighting.
- Freshman Cam Whitmore was spotted at the end of practice not wearing anything over his hand that he recently had surgery on. While certainly a good sign, Neptune said that there is still no timetable for Whitmore, and he is not practicing yet.
- Expect to see a lot more of Mark Armstrong and Angelo Brizzi. Neptune says that those two would be in the lineup regardless of who’s injured
- Slater, like many others on this team, is still getting used to his new role as a leader and a scorer. Allow some time for them to figure it out in the beginning of the season.
- Neptune has a ton of confidence in Jordan Longino. Expect his stock to continue rising over the winter months.
- The overall vibe of the team is positive. It is very evident that the Villanova culture remains in tact, and the approach following a loss is the exact same as it is following a win. The coaches and players are on the same page, they just want to continue getting better.