Standing at 6-foot-11 and weighing 245 lbs, Daniel Ochefu is an imposing human being and has the potential to be a dominant force for Jay Wright’s Wildcats. Each year at ‘Nova, Ochefu has increased his minutes played, points scored, and rebounds per game. Upon entering his senior season and with the graduation of JayVaughn Pinkston, Ochefu can no longer be a part of an ensemble and needs to take a larger role. The success of Villanova basketball will be determined by the play of Ochefu.
Ochefu was a key cog and assisted in Villanova’s cruising through their Big East regular season and their capturing of the Big East tourney championship. Villanova was rewarded with a number one seed in the NCAA tournament but the elation was short lived, as the Wildcats were eliminated by NC State in the field of 32. The two factors that led to Villanova losing to NC State were poor shooting (shot 33% from the field) and NC State outrebounding Villanova 45-32.
During Ochefu’s time at Villanova, they have benefitted from great guard play but to make a long run in March they need strong frontcourt play. Out of their 61 shots against NC State, 28 were 3-pointers (45.9%) and this stat illustrates that there was not a dominant post presence for Villanova. The wide rebounding margin shows that the Wolfpack were outworking Villanova to clean the glass at an overwhelming rate.
Now with the graduation of Pinkston, Ochefu is the only proven presence for the Wildcats inside the paint. The tough rebounds and responsibility to protect the rim will solely rest on Ochefu’s broad shoulders. If Ochefu is able to dominate the interior Nova could erase the memories of early NCAA exits from the past two seasons and make the long desired run into the NCAA tournament.
Ochefu projected stats will have to be about 12 points a game along with grabbing 9.5 rebounds a game for the 2015-16 season which will be an increase over last season’s performance. While this would be considered a successful season individually, Ochefu would need to help the overall success for Villanova in two ways. First, Ochefu needs to be a rim protector for the Wildcats. If Ochefu is able to alter/block shots this could lead to opportunities to score in transition for the deep array of 'Nova guards. This will also force the opposition to find ways to score the ball outside of the paint.
The second factor for Ochefu is for him to stay out of foul trouble. In that case, Villanova would once again have a smaller lineup which is starting to become a trend in basketball all the way up to the NBA. If Ochefu is on the bench because of foul issues, their lack of a proven inside force outside of Ochefu can be exploited. The opposition would be able to control the boards and tempo without Ochefu in the Wildcats lineup. These two aspects will be extremely important for both the big man and Villanova to have success this season.
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com
Just this morning, center Dylan Painter announced via twitter that he has verbally committed to play basketball for Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats next fall and join their 2016 recruiting class.
The 6-foot-10 Hershey, PA native attends Hershey High School and is rated as a three-star-prospect by ESPN. He plays for Team Final and previously competed with them on the Nike EYBL circuit. During his junior year of high school, he averaged a double-double.
Painter also had offers from over 30 schools but it ultimately came down to a decision between Villanova and Penn State.
Here is a look at his sophomore season highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwRW3-m1BSg
Photo courtesy of Giantkiller.co
The day after Labor Day is usually a time when people have remorse because summer is unofficially over. But this year Villanova aided their basketball fans by releasing their complete schedule for the 2015-16 season. Comments of sadness directed to the departure of summer were replaced by rejoice in the anticipation of another basketball season. For the most committed ‘Nova fans, their calendars will be marked on November 13, 2015 at 7PM, when Jay Wright and his crew will take on Farleigh Dickinson University at home to begin the season.
When it comes to the non-conference schedule there are three important facts to know. First off, Villanova will travel to Brooklyn, NY, on Thanksgiving weekend to take on Pac-12 school Stanford on Nov. 26th. They will then face either Georgia Tech or Arkansas on Nov. 27th in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
In addition, Villanova will continue their intracity rivalry by competing against all other City 6 schools, with the exception of Drexel. Their first game will be on December 1st at Saint Joseph’s.
The last notable event about their non-conference schedule is when the Wildcats will travel to Pearl Harbor and play Oklahoma to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It should be a challenging game because Oklahoma returns four starters from a Sweet 16 team.
The most challenging non-conference game will be on December 19th when ‘Nova travels to Charlottesville and takes on Virginia. Tony Bennett has raised the stature of the Cavalier program by bringing it to their first Sweet 16 game in 2014 since Ralph Sampson was on the roster in 1983. The team’s intense defense allowed a mere 51.4 points against a game last season under Bennett and could give the Wildcats some fits.
Villanova starts off the new year playing their first conference game on Jan. 2 at Creighton. ‘Nova is expected to contend for another Big East crown, but there will certainly be some obstacles along the way. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Georgetown will clash with the Wildcats first on January 16thn in Washington D.C and then again on March 5th at the Pavilion. It is safe to say that Hoya fans still resent the outcome of the 1985 NCAA Championship game where Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas were upset by Ed Pinckney and the Wildcats.
The Providence Friars will also be a tough matchup mainly because Kris Dunn decided to return for another year much to the chagrin of Big East fans outside of Friartown. The Friars will visit Philly on Jan. 23rd and the Wildcats will travel up to Providence on Feb. 6th. A surprise team in the Big East could be Seton Hall who returns 2014 McDonald's All-American Isiah Whitehead and 2015 Big East Rookie of the Year Angel Delgado. While the Pirates had a dismal finish last year they, along with Georgetown, were the only two Big East teams to beat Villanova.
Villanova will then have the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden from March 9-12. It is easy to believe that Villanova will have success this year and win their share of games, but will another early exit in the NCAA tournament tarnish the entire season for ‘Nova Nation? We’ll just have to see.
For the complete schedule see here.
- Tom McAlister
Photo courtesy of philly.com
Every fall, new student athletes join prestigious universities and try to continue and even expand the legacies of their programs. While the traditional method of reloading players during the offseason is recruiting players directly from high school, the NCAA has seen an increase of transfers over the last several years. Villanova has been victimized but has also benefited from the increase of transfer students. Dylan Ennis decided to take advantage of the increasing popular graduate transfer rule and left for Oregon. While the loss of Ennis was a blow to the depth chart, Nova received assistance for years to come in the form of Eric Paschall.
When Tom Pecora was relieved of his duties as men’s basketball coach at Fordham, Paschall decided to examine the opportunity to attend a different school. Paschall waited until Jeff Neubauer was named as the new coach at Fordham and ultimately decided to transfer to Villanova. While Fordham has not been a basketball powerhouse for some time, Nova fans should be excited about this import from the Bronx school.
Originating from Dobbs Ferry, NY the six-foot-six guard had the size and skill to pummel high school opponents in the metro New York area and, as time went on, drew a lot of attention from college coaches. In 2013, Paschall’s junior season, Paschall was awarded Mr. Basketball for Westchester County.
Only three other players have won that accolade as juniors. They were Elton Brand, Ben Gordon, and Jabarie Hinds.
Paschall made the decision to commit to Fordham before the end of his senior season with many basketball experts stating that Paschall should complete his senior year and then decide which college to attend. While attending St. Thomas More in Oakdale, CT., for his senior season, Paschall imposed his will on the competition and was named the 2014 NEPSAC AAA Player of the Year. Paschall did not change his mind and kept his commitment and matriculated at Fordham University.
Paschall had a successful run as a freshman for the Rams and averaged 15.9 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game, which lead to Paschall winning another accolade, this time the Atlantic-10 Freshman of the Year award. Unfortunately the Rams were far from successful and were 10-21 overall with a 4-14 record in the Atlantic 10. With the poor overall team performance Pecora was removed from his position and Paschall decided he wanted to take his talents elsewhere.
There is a connection between Pecora and Jay Wright, the current Villanova head basketball coach. While a head coach at Hofstra, Pecora was one of Wright’s assistants and eventual successor when Wright moved to Villanova. It is easy to believe that the pre-existing relationship between Pecora and Wright facilitated the decision made by Paschall. While Paschall does have to sit out the 2015-16 season because of NCAA transfer rules, the young man could potentially be the next beast of the east for Wright and Villanova.
Photo courtesy of The Bench Mob
-(1) Villanova defeats (3) Michigan in the National Championship