Villanova Basketball: 5 Takeaways from Start of Wildcats' Practices
There are just three weeks left until the sight of college basketball will fill our televisions on a nonstop basis.
Before the Villanova Wildcats can take the court for their season opener on November 8 against Lafayette, they still have a few kinks to work out in their lineup.
While the Wildcats are still working out a few kinks, they have taken plenty of positives away from their first few weeks of practice.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the early weeks of practice on the Main Line.
The Frontcourt Will Be a Work in Progress
The main concern about the Villanova lineup this season is the play of the frontcourt.
Sophomore center Daniel Ochefu will start while JayVaughn Pinkston will most likely start at power forward.
Other than that, the questions of who will backup the duo in the paint and how effective they will be still remains to be answered.
The most likely replacements in the paint will be Darryl Reynolds and Kris Jenkins, both of whom are freshmen that will hopefully deliver some pleasant surprises in the reserve role this season.
If Reynolds and Jenkins can step up and deliver quality minutes off the bench in the paint, head coach Jay Wright will not have to stress about how his team will perform in that area of the court.
Dylan Ennis Will Be the Sixth Man Sparkplug
The starting backcourt for the Wildcats seems to be set with Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard and James Bell filling the spots in the likely three-guard lineup sent out to the floor by Wright.
The fourth guard on the depth chart should be Rice transfer Dylan Ennis, who sat out last season after leaving Rice after his freshman season.
Ennis averaged 8.5 points per game in his only season at Rice and he should provide a number close to that total in his first season on the Main Line.
Ennis is a dynamic scorer that should be able to relieve Arcidiacono in the scoring department if the sophomore has a bad game or two.
Josh Hart Could Be a Major Help on Defense
Freshman Josh Hart will obviously not be handed a starting role, but he could be a crucial force off of the bench, especially when it comes to defense.
Hart was a prolific scorer at the high school level, but help in the scoring department is not needed due to the plethora of options that the Wildcats have on their roster.
However, there is some need for help on the defensive end as the Wildcats have not been known for their stingy defense of late.
Senior and expected starter James Bell should be the main defensive stopper, but with him being around for just one more year, someone has to step up to fill that void next season.
Hart could be just that player as he has been working on improving his defensive skills since taking the floor for the team's first practice.
Kris Jenkins Is a Younger, Raw Version of JayVaughn Pinkston
Luckily for the three incoming freshman at Villanova, they will not be forced to play a massive role this season like many freshman do at most major colleges nowadays.
One of those freshmen is Kris Jenkins, who has been likened to a younger version of JayVaughn Pinkston in this look at him from Brian Ewart at VUHoops.com
That comparison actually makes a ton of sense if you look at role that Pinkston has played during his career at Villanova.
Pinkston has been a reliable source of scoring in the paint and on the wing, and he has been able to step into a position where he may be uncomfortable and succeed without complaining about the role.
At 6'6", Jenkins could turn into a hybrid power forward like Pinkston, as he can provide strength and size in the paint as well as versatility to move out to the wing and score efficiently.
If Pinkston does go down at any time during the season, expect Jenkins to take over his role and provide the same skill set, and hopefully the same numbers, that the junior produces.
The Conference Has High Expectations for the Wildcats
At the Big East media day on Wednesday, the Wildcats were voted as the fourth best team in the league in the conference preseason poll.
Also voted on in New York City on Wednesday was the first and second All-Big East teams, where Arcidiacono and Pinkston were elected to the second-team.
These achievements show that the Wildcats are expected to thrive in the new version of the historic conference and that failure to live up to these expectations would be looked down upon.
The Wildcats will see plenty of competition this season in the Big East with Marquette, Creighton and Georgetown expected to contend for the conference title.
As we know from last season's results, the Wildcats have no fear in playing against the best in the Big East, but whether or not they perform at a high level for the entire season remains to be seen.
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