The Villanova Wildcats (11-13), to say the least, have struggled this year. They have yet to win a game against any team in the AP top 25, and are 4- 8 in Big East play.
The Cats have not been under 500% since the 2002 – 2003 season where they went 15 – 16, but that was coach Jay Wright’s second season. This is Jay Wright’s 11th season, and all of a sudden, he is right where he started. This catastrophe of a season was unepxected to Villanova fans. Everybody knew this was not going to be Villanova’s best year, but a season this bad never even crossed the minds of some ‘Nova fans. The Wildcats have the players and the coaching to have a great season, but why are they faring so poorly?
Maalik Wayns is the fourth-leading scorer in the Big East, averaging 17.8 points per game. Wayns also grabs 4 rebounds per game as well as dishing out 4.5 assists. He has been one of the most respected guards in the entire country, let alone conference. Coming off a season where his play was overshadowed by the excellence of guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, Wayns has developed into one of the most versatile guards the ‘Cats have ever had.
Dominic Cheeck averages 12.6 points per game and chips in with 4.0 rebounds as well, starting at power forward. Mouphtaou Yarou averages 11.4 points per game. The big man also helps out with an average 8.3 rebounds per game as well. Both of their scoring rates have gone up, and while Yarou still needs to work on his efficiency, it isn’t like he is a weak spot on this team.
Freshman forward Jayvaughn Pinkston averages 9.7 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game in his first year, and recently he has been lighting it up. Pinkston hit a game winning layup against Providence and pitched in 27 points while he was at it. His unbelievable talent has been already noted by NBA scouts, and he could be the future of this program.
Villanova coach Jay Wright is 357 – 208 in his career coaching both Villanova’s and Hofstra’s basketball teams. Wright is undoubtedly a qualified basketball coach, and has undeniably talented players. However, the Wildcats are missing one thing: teamwork.
A team can have many good players but not be successful. This happened with the Miami Heat last year. They had arguably three of the best players in the league, but while they had regular season/early postseason success, their chemistry was not enough to push them over the top.
The Villanova Wildcats have the same problem. They have a lot of guys who can score, but most of the time everyone on the team is thinking of themselves. They have nobody on their team who has more than 4.5 assists. Wayns leads the team in assists, but most of the time he is thinking only about himself, passing up perfect opportunities for teammates and taking an off-balance jumper. Yes, he averages 17.8 points per game, but he also averages nearly 3 turnovers per game.
‘Nova is averaging more shots and more empty possessions per game. Instead of working the ball around and looking for good shots, they are firing up bricks instead of finding the open man.
Recently though, Villanova has looked more like a team. If they want to make the Big East Tournament, they need to continue winning to secure a top 12 spot. The way to do that will be for Pinkston and Wayns to continue to progress in their point guard-ability, and start to slow down an offense that simply doesn’t take enough time to take high-percentage shots.