Villanova Wildcats 3-5
There are often growing pains with a new coach, but when Kyle Neptune replaced Jay Wright at Villanova many thought those pains would be minimal. With plenty of talent returning and stud freshman Cam Whitmore arriving it was thought the Wildcats wouldn’t skip much of a beat. Well, Whitmore had been out all year and returned from injury against Oklahoma with seven points and three rebounds in limited minutes. Villanova has already suffered five losses including four of their last six. Now to be fair, four of those losses have come by four points or less.
But lately, those losses have become more glaring, with a 12-point loss to Portland. They followed that up with a seven-point loss to an Oregon team that had just six scholarship players. Following an 0-3 trip to the Phil Knight Invitational, the Wildcats hosted the Sooners in the Big East/Big 12 battle on Saturday resulting in a 70-66 win to get back on track.
Villanova hasn’t been the same team we’ve been accustomed to seeing this far. Some of that could be the new coach and the adjustment period that entails. However, there are a couple of other reasons as well. First and most importantly, they need the return of the big east freshman of the year. Cam Whitmore finally returned from thumb surgery on his shooting hand, giving the Wildcats a dynamic scorer that they have been missing badly in my opinion.
On the court, they need to sure up their perimeter defense from behind the arc. Villanova has allowed their opponents to shoot it at a 38.5% clip which ranks 319th and the country and 9th among teams in the big east. Getting Whitmore back will be a big boost, but they also have to be better at getting out on shooters and need this time to fine-tune things before conference play.