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
-(1) Villanova defeats (3) Michigan in the National Championship