Villanova basketball preview: Wildcats again appear to be the team to beat in the Big East.
This article originally appeared in the the Nov. 9, 2015, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here.
Ryan Arcidiacono has been the Wildcats’ most important player in each of his three seasons, even if most of the country hasn’t noticed. But what the 6'3" senior point guard lacks in flash, he makes up for in productivity and dependability. As a freshman he started every game, led the team in minutes and assists and was Villanova’s second-leading scorer. Since then Arcidiacono has only gotten better. He earned Big East co–player of the year honors last season, in part because he has become more efficient (improving his assist to turnover ratio to nearly 3:1) as well as stronger and more active on defense. He enters this season as the unquestioned leader of a team that lost three key veterans in Darrun Hilliard, JayVaughn Pinkston and Dylan Ennis. He also leads a class that, with 21 more wins, will be the most successful in Villanova’s 95-year history.
Coach Jay Wright plans to press and run more to compensate for their lack of height, which means an even greater load for Arch. “He really is like a coach on the floor,” Wright says. “So in practice you don’t have to spend time with him. You can develop the other guys. And in game situations, he’s going to make the right play. Whatever it is.”
Josh Hart, 6'5" junior guard
As the sixth man last year, Hart averaged 10.1 points (tied for second on the team) and was MVP of the Big East tournament. But his defense and rebounding will be “pivotal” now that he’s a starter, says coach Jay Wright.
“We are going to be a quicker team than last year. We are going to have to press a lot more and run a lot more. We aren’t going to have the kind of size we had last year so we are going to have to really speed up the game and get people out of running their offense. Having three (good ball handlers), that’s going to be a positive for us offensively. But I’m very concerned about our defense and our rebounding. We lost three very good perimeter defenders and rebounders, so I think we’ve got big holes to fill on (those) ends.”
Projected depth chart