Friday, January 31, 2014

New alternate uniforms

For the women's team.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's behind James Bell's Great Leap Forward?

In his first three seasons at Villanova, senior swing man James Bell was generally one of the best defenders on the team, but his scoring was inconsistent. Every offseason since he has been here, there have been articles and tweets (usually from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports) about how much he had improved and how he was going to have a breakout year. When the same thing happened this past offseason, I had pretty much the same reaction, one of serious skepticism, as Bell had never scored more than 292 points in a season, and had a tendency to disappear for a while after he would have what seemed to be a breakout game.

This season, he has somehow put it together, and has already set a career high in points, and is on pace to set career highs in just about every other trackable stat.

So what is behind this? Well, to start, Bell has gone from a below average shooter inside of the arc to someone who is shooting over 50% from two point range, as well as the fact that he has already set career highs in free throws attempted and free throws made. Surprisingly, he is not shooting much better from three point range than his career averages, but he is taking them in greater volumes than ever. So the increase in two point field goal percentage, the increased volume of shots, and the greater frequency of his getting to the line has propelled him to where he is now, one of the greatest season to season improvements in school history.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Villanova strength and conditioning coach Phil Matusz getting big promotion?

That is a big job, especially if he gets the head job. Along with Justus Galac, who is now at the New York Jets, the last two Villanova strength coaches are off to bigger and better things. The Andy Talley coaching tree only expands.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Highlights of Villanova's win over Georgetown

These are always worth watching if only to hear Ryan Fannon's calls of the big moments of games.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Led by Bell, Ochefu, Villanova takes care of the Hoyas

James Bell continued his strong stretch tonight, scoring 16 points in Villanova's 65-60 victory on the road over Georgetown. It was Bell's fourth straight game with at least 16 points including his career high 30 against Marquette. Also in double figures for the Wildcats were Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston, who each had 12 points. 

On the whole, Villanova didn't have a great game, but I'll take a road conference win any day.

More analysis on this tomorrow. Too tired.

Official NCAA explanation for the bullshit charge call

"We're just not there yet. It's not in the DNA because it's not what they're used to doing. The block-charge call is a hard call to make and then you add in the circle and it's as hard, if not the hardest. We've only had this for two years and we're still trying to get used to looking at feet first"
-John Adams, NCAA coordinator of officials.

From Dana O'Neil .

So basically, they just make excuses rather than actually holding the officials accountable for getting it terribly wrong when it could have had dire consequences.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

From the NCAA rulebook: Blocking/Charging fouls

Before the offensive player (with the ball) becomes airborne, the defender must have two feet on the floor, be facing the opponent and be stationary to draw a charge. Otherwise it should be a blocking foul.
Secondary defenders (help defenders) moving forward or to the side are also in violation, and these should be blocking fouls.

Contact that is “through the chest” is not de facto proof of a charge. The rule in its entirety must be considered before determining a foul.

In some cases, it appears that a defender is being rewarded solely for being outside the arc, without considering the other aspects of the rules.
 It would be nice if the stripes paid attention to the rules.

I'll have a recap later. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

It only gets worse...

Those might actually be worse than the pink jerseys. It's also compounded by the fact that Buzz Williams will be wearing them.

Looking at those things is giving me cancer.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

You won't believe what Marquette is wearing on Saturday

Apparently it's "coaches vs. cancer week" which means that Marquette is going to wear these fuck awful pink uniforms, because apparently that will cure cancer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mark Clements, VUHoops, and the folly of recruiting coverage

A few days ago, Brian Ewart at did a story about Mark Clements, a football recruit who seemed to have taken a circuitous route that included a non-qualifier SAT score, prep school, hodgkin's lymphoma, and a return to the field after recovery. According to the story, Clements was poised to sign a national letter of intent with Villanova next month, something that he originally intended to do all the way back in 2012. The problem was that no part of the Villanova angle of the story was true, and a Villanova spokesman took the nearly unprecedented step to issue comment on a prospect expressly to say to VUHoops that Clements neither had a scholarship offer from Villanova, nor was he even being recruited by the school.

In a world where college sports are big business and fan devotion is greater than ever, there is a massive thirst for recruiting info by fans, and if you run a blog or other website, recruiting news brings page views like no other story. The desire to see who wants to go to what college is fierce for a very large percentage of college fans. Since NCAA schools are prohibited from commenting on their pursuit of an unsigned prospect, almost all of this information is gained through two avenues: The word of a teenager, and hearsay, neither of which are things that most people tend to associate with being trustworthy. I cannot count the number of times I've heard of a "family friend" of a recruit who gave an incorrect scoop regarding the intentions of said teenager.

Six years ago, a Nevada high school football player named Kevin Hart was given a ceremony at his high school because he said that he had several NCAA division one scholarship offers. At that ceremony, Hart committed to University of California, Berkeley over the University of Oregon. The only problem was that not only did Hart lack an offer from California, but he had offers from no division one schools, and wouldn't have qualified academically if he did have any offers. After Hart's story unraveled, people wondered how he could have tricked everyone, including his parents. The answer was that he had received recruiting letters from some of these schools and had attended a few football camps held by division one teams. Before Brian's story about Mark Clements, the only time I had ever heard of a school commenting on the status of an unsigned prospect was Cal and Oregon shooting down Kevin Hart's story that he had scholarship offers from them.

This is not to attack VUHoops, which is a very good site that gets things right the vast majority of the time, something that I cannot say about my piece of shit blogger site, or Brian, who I think is an excellent writer, but it is my time to say that the recruiting coverage that has come to dominate college sports websites is not worth it. It's far too fluid, and there's always a chance that someone is not being 100% truthful in the entire episode.

As for Mark Clements, he seems like a decent kid who has been through a lot, and is apparently a pretty good football player. I hope he lands on his feet.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hot shooting Creighton crushes Villanova 96-68

I'll have more on this tomorrow. Feel kind of numb. Just wow.

Villanova moves into top five in both major polls

Happy days are here again!

The AP Poll has them at #4 with their best ranking being third and their worst being seventh, and the coaches poll has them fifth, which I don't have exact metrics for.

They're number two in KenPom, number two in RPI, and number three in Jeff Sagarin's ratings. Villanova and Arizona are the only teams that are consensus top three in all the computer rankings.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Flashback: 2008 Ray Ventrone's Super Bowl hit

This weekend Ventrone, now a member of the San Francisco 49ers will be playing in the NFC Championship Game for his second opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. In 2008, his Patriots lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Debunking the myth that Jay Wright is only good at recruiting

Somewhere along the line, Jay Wright developed a reputation as a coach whose success is nearly entirely derived from his ability to recruit. People said things about how Jay hasn't won at Villanova without multiple McDonald's All-Americans. People who subscribe to that line of thought are pretty ignorant of history, because the only recent McDonald's All-American who went on to be a star at Villanova was Scottie Reynolds, and he wound up at Villanova pretty much by accident (insert joke about how Scottie would rather be mentioned on an Oklahoma blog).

Almost exactly a year ago, I touched on this a little bit, because there was a young Villanova team coming off of a horrible season that had just rattled off seven consecutive wins. Right after I wrote that piece, the Villanova team in question went on to lose its next three games in pretty horrific fashion, but then they went on to beat the eventual national champions and another top five team in a five day period right after that skid ended. In the span of a week, Villanova was back where they belonged, and the trolls who were calling for Jay's job retreated back under their bridges. The rise of the Baby Cats last season, combined with the upsets of Iowa and Kansas earlier this season inevitably paved the way for a million gushing articles about how Jay Wright got his groove back. In reality, it never left, it was just that there were a few "can't-miss" recruits that were major miscalculations on the part of the recruiting services. In the dark years between 2010 and 2013, Villanova teams tended were competent enough offensively, they played hard, and were good at things like shooting free throws, but they didn't play good team defense, which had been a hallmark of Jay Wright's Villanova teams.

What happened was that new players came in and others continued to develop. There are three players on this roster that are prime examples of how Jay Wright is able to mold his charges into well rounded basketball players, Darrun Hilliard, JayVaughn Pinkston, and Ryan Arcidiacono. Perhaps the best example is Darrun Hilliard, one of the least-heralded recruits to start for Villanova, but he's averaging almost 14 points a game, and could very well finish his junior season with more than 1,000 points in his career, which does not happen all that often in only three years for a team coached by Jay Wright, given the way that he tends to ease freshmen into action. JayVaughn Pinkston was a highly sought after recruit who was forced into redshirting his true freshman year because of a minor case of pugilism. Now JVP was pretty damn good his redshirt-freshman season especially when his time away from the team is taken into consideration, but there were some glaring flaws in his game, particularly his mediocre free throw shooting, tendency to turn the ball over frequently, and an almost total lack of defensive awareness. In the two offseasons at Villanova, he has completely changed both his physique and his game, and because of that he has become a very good free throw shooter, one of the most dominating offensive forces in the country, and has greatly improved his defensive game in the process. Finally, there is Ryan Arcidiacono, who was a turnover machine when he was needed to handle the ball last season, played poor defense, couldn't make shots on the rare occasion that he shot from two point range, and had almost no secondary skills. Though early season returns were overshadowed by the fact that he was shooting the ball terribly from outside, his two point shooting has been markedly better than it was last season, he has getting more rebounds, is playing adequate defense, and has almost cut his turnovers in half. If he had been converting threes at even his career average rate, the discussion about Arcidiacono for the first half of this season would have been how he is developing into a more rounded player.

In case you need any more convincing, I'll just point out that Dante Cunningham is currently in his fifth season in the NBA. If the Dante Cunningham example doesn't do anything for you, then you probably root for St. Joseph's (PA) or Temple fan, and you're just bitter that you couldn't get into Villanova.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Is Ryan Arcidiacono really that much better in Big East play?

An interesting statistic from Ryan Arcidiacono's career is how much better he has been at shooting in conference play during his career, and it's not by a small margin, it's pretty significant. So far in Big East play, he has been shooting 71% from the floor, which is frankly unsustainable, but even if he reverts to his career averages, it will still be enough to substantially improve on his out of conference numbers for this season, and his career.  

2012-2013 OOC:
FG: 44/145 (30.3%)
2P: 13-39 (33.3%)
3P: 31-106 (29.2%)

2012-2013 Big East:
FG- 62-164 (37.8%)
2P- 22-53 (41.5%)
3P- 40-111 (36%)

2013-2014 OOC:
FG: 35-99 (35.4%)

2P: 19-32 ( 59.4%)
3P: 16-67 (23.9%)

2013-2014 Big East:
FG: 14-24 (58.3%)

2P:  5-7 (71.4%)
3 Pt.: 9-17 (52.9%)

As you can see, that is a substantial difference in all facets. It's amazing how good Villanova was for the first two months of the season with Ryan playing that poorly. If he shoots his career averages, the rest of the way, Villanova is a top five team, especially given his improvements in the other areas of his game. If he substantially improves on last season's averages from Big East play, Villanova is a national contender. 

Villanova climbs in both AP and Coaches Top 25 polls

They're now sixth in both,  vaulting over Ohio State and Baylor in the AP Poll, as both sustained losses this week. Interesting that at this point, the win over Iowa is looking a lot better than the win over Kansas.

The fact that Villanova isn't running the same gauntlet as they were in the old Big East will give them a chance to advance even further, provided they don't lay a massive egg in a game they're supposed to win.

Daniel Ochefu's monstrous dunk against St. John's

So powerful. One of the best Villanova dunks ever. Possibly even topping Dante Cunningham's dunk over Kevin Durant.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Today's (Graphic) story about JayVaughn Pinkston's MRSA

Harrowing stuff.

The Arcidiacono resurgence continues, Villanova flush Johnnies 74-67

The Villanova Wildcats are 15-1.

I just figured I would say it right off the bat, because nobody predicted that in the offseason. After all, Villanova doesn't have as much talent as the talented St. John's team they played against today. Despite playing pretty awful for most of the game, missing wide open shots galore, and turning the ball over, the good guys were still able to pull out a well earned victory on the road at Madison Square Garden.

Leading the way for the Wildcats were JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono, who had 15 and 13 points respectively. Pinkston also had ten rebounds, so he added a double-double to his already fantastic resume this season. Also in double figures for the good guys were Josh Hart, who had 14, Darrun Hilliard with ten points despite being cold as ice from the floor, and Daniel Ochefu, who scored in double figures for the first time this season with ten points, including this titanic smash over at least three St. John's defenders. James Bell had ten rebounds in only 22 minutes of action, but foul trouble limited him to four points, and he wound up fouling out. He needs to make adjustments on that front.

Villanova's next game will be a home game next Saturday against DePaul.

Wear a tie Steve Lavin.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Is Ryan Arcidiacono back in form?

In terms of scoring volume, Ryan Arcidiacono's first three conference games don't look to be all that spectacular, as he's averaging ten points per game, including an overtime game where he logged 39 minutes of playing time, but other than that, it is unquestionably his best stretch of the season, as he is shooting 57% from the field, 46% from three point range, leading the team in assists and steals, and not turning the ball over excessively.

Of course, this is an incredibly small sample size, and we'll learn a lot more as that sample size grows, but any improvement by Ryan is absolutely pivotal for this team to have sustained success, and this season we have already seen a great improvement by him both defensively and in terms of protecting the ball. Also, it's worth noting that last season, his numbers in conference play last season were substantially better than they were in non-conference play, so we'll see if that was fluky or if it's a pattern we can come to expect.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Florida DB Malik Reaves commits to Villanova

Reaves, a 6'0" cornerback from Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, Florida picked Villanova over offers from Colorado State and a bunch of (top level) FCS schools.

He's the twelfth (public) commitment to the Villanova program.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pinkston passes 1,000 point plateau as Villanova sinks Pirates 83-67

Tonight in Newark, JayVaughn Pinkston became the 57th player in Villanova history to score 1,000 points, scoring 17 points to go along with six rebounds, finishing the game with 1,003 points in his team's 16 point victory over host Seton Hall. Everyone should be proud of JVP for sticking with Villanova after the difficulty he had his first semester at school. I know that I would have quit if I was him.

Leading Villanova in scoring was Darrun Hilliard, followed by Pinkston's 17, with Ryan Arcidiacono scoring a season high-tying 14 points, and Josh Hart scoring 11, his fifth straight game with 11 points.

Fifteen games into the season, Villanova is 14-1 and ranked in the top ten in the country, which is better than anyone could have expected before this season started.

Beat St. John's.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Villanova football recruit

Will update when the person's identity becomes apparent. is on the case again, it's Father Judge defensive lineman Eric Drains

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pinkston and Ennis-led Villanova crushes Providence 91-61

If you told me that James Bell would foul out in very limited playing time, and score only six points, but Villanova would still beat a Big East opponent by 30 points, I would call you a lunatic. Well thanks to JayVaughn Pinkston, Dylan Ennis, and Darrun Hilliard, they were able to crush a demoralized looking Providence team. Pinkston led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds, followed by Ennis, who scored 17 points, his most in a Villanova uniform, Hilliard who scored 15 points, eight of which were scored in the very early stages of the game, and Josh Hart, who scored ten, his fifth straight game scoring in double figures.

With his 19 point performance, Pinkston is now at 986 career points, only 14 points away from 1,000.

There was a scary moment in the second half when Dylan Ennis and Ryan Arcidiacono clunked heads while diving for a loose ball. A note for the future: It might not be the best idea to do that when you're winning by 30. Both inexplicably returned to the game, a questionable decision to be sure.

Next up is a game at Seton Hall on Wednesday.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2015 Guard Donte Divincenzo commits to Villanova

Divincenzo, a Delaware native joins New Jersey's Tim Delaney as committed to the class of 2015, giving Villanova two white players in a recruiting class for the first time in god knows when. Just a reminder for people who are getting too excited: neither he nor Delaney can sign a national letter of intent until November, so these commitments are completely non-binding

Also a reminder that Darrun Hilliard was a two star recruit, which is why I'm not really mentioning stars or recruiting rankings. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reconciling Ryan Arcidiacono's playing time vs. Josh Hart's

After the Syracuse game, I posted (in jest) a missing poster of Ryan Arcidiacono, because he has been simply baffling in his sophomore campaign. He's shooting historically poorly from the outside, has regressed significantly from the free throw line, and has been the team's worst defender/least efficient guard. Now, I'm willing to accept that Arcidiacono is never going to be a lock down defender, because they tend to be long or athletic or both, and he is neither, but if he is not better offensively than Tony Chennault, then he is in no way justifying the fact that he is getting more minutes than any other player on the team. This is not a matter of having high expectations for Ryan, because I felt that his playing time in his (very good) freshman season was too much.

Also compounding things is that Josh Hart, who has unquestionably been one of the team's top five players this season is getting ten (!!!) fewer minutes per game than Arcidiacono, but is still scoring more points per game. I understand that the two play different positions, but Jay frequently says that he wants the best five players to be on the floor the majority of the time. Well, in this case, Ryan Arcidiacono has been probably the team's eighth best player, but is getting the most minutes of anyone, so it's time for Jay to put his money where his mouth is.

Beat Providence.