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Villanova Basketball Preview: Centers and Forwards

The Villanova season opener is 2 days away as excitement builds for the 2012-2013 season. Although it will be a challenge for the Wildcats to eclipse their win total of 13 from last season without 2011-12 top scorers Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek, some new faces and developing underclassmen could cause headaches for the Big East elite. In the days preceding the opener, Khandyman Sports will take a look at each position on court for the Cats. Today, Sean Burke dissects the centers and forwards.

Starters

C Maurice Sutton, Senior

Sutton was a big reason that the Wildcats were ranked in the top-10 in rebounding last season, and another off-season should make him even better. Averaging just 3.6 points per game, Sutton is clearly not a reliable scorer in the paint. That number will no doubt increase in 2012-13 with the loss of Wayns and Cheek, but that does not give Sutton an excuse for missing short jumpers or easy layups.

The real strength of the 5th-year senior is his ability to crash the boards and get crucial offensive and defensive rebounds. Sutton only averaged 3.1 rebounds per game, but that number is misleading because he did not start until the last 11 games of the season. During that span, he had less than 5 boards just 3 times. His 6-11 frame is rivaled by few in the Big East, which should give his team a significant advantage defensively. If Sutton can average 8-10 points and grab at least 7 rebounds per game, Nova will once again be a force in the paint.

PF Mouphtaou Yarou, Senior

Yarou developed into a bona-fide big man in the Big East last season, when he averaged 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds as a center/power forward. Yarou will get more looks down low this season without Wayns and Cheek stealing shots. Yarou improved his jump shot last season, and there is a good chance he practiced shooting even more in the off-season. Like Sutton, he is a quality rebounder, and his strength is unrivaled by most big men in the Big East. His free throw percentage of .691 is average for a C/F like him, but his .474 field goal percentage will definitely improve this season. Look for Yarou to lead the team in rebounds, and be one of the top three scorers.

Pinkston goes up for a shot against ‘Cuse in the Wells Fargo Center.

SF JayVaughn Pinkston, Sophomore

The 6-7, 260 freak athlete averaged 9.6 points per game last season to go along with 5.2 rebounds. His breakout game came against Providence, when he scored 28 points as well as the go ahead bucket with less than 30 seconds to go. The sophomore failed to reach double digits in the points column in just 8 out of the 20 Big East games he played, one of which he left after 2 minutes with an injury. JVP, as he is called by fans, has the potential to be an All-Big East player by the time he is a senior. Pinkston has no doubt matured over the spring and summer, and he will only get better this season. Expect 15 points and 8 rebounds each game from the budding underclassman.

Reserves

PF Daniel Ochefu, Freshman

Ochefu, like Yarou, came from Africa to the United States and wound up at Villanova. A 6-10 forward out of Nigeria averaged 13.4 points per game at Westtown High School, before transferring to Downingtown East due to disciplinary reasons. According to scouts, he plays very well with his back to his basket and is a gifted rebounder. He should get his fair share of minutes at power forward or center if Yarou ever needs a break. Ochefu should score 7 points and 5 rebounds in his first season with the Cats.

F Patrick Farrell, Freshman

The 6-5, 200 pound freshman is terribly undersized for his position, so he will most likely play small forward for Jay Wright. His minutes will be limited, with the sophomore Pinkston and junior guard/forward James Bell blocking him into the bench. If Farrell sees significant playing time in 2012-2013, something has gone terribly awry.

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Categories: CBB, Villanova

Author:Sean Burke

Sean Burke is a Villanova beat writer for Khandyman Sports and also contributes to the Eagles section. Sean currently resides in Glen Mills, PA.

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