In the infant stages of the 2015-2016 basketball season, the best word to describe the Villanova Wildcats has been dominant. The closest margin of victory for 'Nova has been 14 points which came against Stanford. Even though Villanova has not faced their toughest competition they have had convincing wins over Nebraska, Stanford, and Georgia Tech. In the early parts of the season there are four positive takeaways for the Wildcats.
1) Ryan Arcidiacono has the most assists on the team with 28 at this current time. While that stat does not seem to be overwhelming, Arcidiacono has only committed 6 turnovers and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.67 is phenomenal. Many coaches emphasis taking care of the ball and every coach at any level would be ecstatic if they have a point guard with a ridiculous assist-to-turnover ratio.
2) Daniel Ochefu has been dominate in the paint by averaging 9.4 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. More importantly Ochefu has averaged 3.4 offensive rebounds a game which enables the Wildcats to extend their own possessions. If there is a weakness for Nova it is in there frontcourt but if Ochefu is able to continue his performance many teams will have a difficult time upending Villanova.
3) Kris Jenkins, who has filled the starting forward spot vacated by the graduation of JayVaugn Pinkston, has been key in Villanova's success. Jenkins has increased his production by nearly doubling his scoring average from 6 points per game in the 2015 season to 12 points per game this season. Jenkins could develop into an x-factor that could determine wins and losses for Jay Wright's crew as the season progresses.
4) Another important part has been the emergence of the much hyped Jalen Brunson. The heralded Wildcat recruit won college accolades before he even played a college game when he won the Big East Preseason Freshman of the Year. After the NIT Season Tip Off Brunson’s performance led to another award when Brunson was given the Most Outstanding Player award for the tournament. Brunson’s play has been much anticipated and necessary for 'Nova to make a deep run into March.
While an undefeated record and convincing wins are always a positive, there are still certain issues that could hamper Villanova in a more competitive atmosphere. One challenge that could face 'Nova later in the season is how they matchup with a team that has a solid frontcourt. None of their previous opponents had dominant forwards and the best challenge to the Wildcat frontcourt could come from conference foe Xavier.
The Villanova guards have also been able to penetrate to the basket at will against select opponents. While it could be considered a cliché, it is often true that defense wins championship. The biggest challenge for Villanova will be when they visit Virginia which has been able to resurrect their program by placing a new emphasis on defense. While ‘Nova guards were able to easily penetrate against lesser opponents, the Cavaliers lockdown defense will be able to match up better against the depth and skill of the Wildcat guards.
Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
-(1) Villanova defeats (3) Michigan in the National Championship