Busting Brackets

Villanova Basketball: Veterans and transfers meshing well in start of Big East play

The performances of Villanova's four transfer players in (2023-'24; who are) TJ Bamba, Tyler Burton, Hakim Hart, and Lance Ware will determine the Big East standout's status in the NCAA Tournament come March/April.

Hunter Martin/GettyImages
3 of 3

What to expect from Villanova Basketball moving forward

Moving forward, gauging how much belief (/poise) the Cats have (in themselves) can be achieved by examining the team’s ability to dictate-pace, (to) stay energized, and (to) remain disciplined; especially on defense. Since the turn of the century (or when Wright took over), Nova’s identity has been firmly grounded in its mental toughness and (in) its resilient spirit-&-nature. Stars like Collin Gillespie, Jalen Brunson, and Josh Hart were incredibly stoic on the court; not to mention great-talents in their own right, and it’ll be interesting to see how guys like Burton, Hart, Bamba, and Ware hold-up once conference-play begins; in addition to its tough non-conference matchups.

The best part about college ball, unlike the NBA, is that every game feels big. Still, some are bigger than others, and during tight/big games Nova must lean on its leaders. For now, Nova’s fairly certain it can bank-on Dixon and Moore showing-up on both ends of the floor; and doing so in ways that evoke confidence.

Despite the fact that jovial times are abound as of late (w/ Nova’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament-victory) , we can’t help but wonder how Jay Wright would react to certain situations-&-moments (on the court); like when the Cats (defense) were guilty of committing a pair of shooting-fouls from beyond-the-arc in the Palestra against Penn. Back in Jay’s day, fouling a 3-point shooter earned you a one-way ticket to the bench for a substantial amount of time; unless you were a multiple-year starter (or someone Jay absolutely needed to-remain in the game).

These days, however, Jay is no longer at the helm ; and he can’t stop his successor from playing whoever he wants to. To Neptune’s credit, the second-year coach was able to play at-least 10 guys in all-three of the Wildcats victories (/games) in the Bahamas. While the old-look Cats were accustomed to going seven-or-eight men-deep in terms of their rotations, the Wildcats of today are deeper; and they have a new-coach who’s more willing to give (more-) players minutes; a strategy that hasn’t had a large (enough of a) sample-size (yet; to fairly assess).

Obviously, every team has aspirations of having a really good, deep bench; an asset that can prove to-be (even more) critical (than it already is) as the season progresses (and) in terms of avoiding injuries. Right now, Nova has a deep-team. But, deep-teams don’t necessarily translate to really-good ones. For now, optimism is aloft; and it’s nice to-know (that) Nova’s four-game tear came against quality-teams and/or big-name schools; not to mention that it’s hard imagining the Cats overlooking the Hawks of St. Joes this (coming) Wednesday evening.

Lengthening a winning-streak is a learned-skill; one that requires leadership. When you’re winning, sometimes it’s hard to stay (as) focused, centered, and present-minded. Complacency is any winning-streak’s greatest enemy; and in order to avoid “smelling themselves” (like the Sixers tend to do) Nova needs its longest-tenured players, (in) Moore and Dixon, to take the lead in keeping the entire team grounded (and/or in-check) as they press-on with their season. While these W’s in the Bahamas are a great-sign for what could be coming, old-timers like Dixon and Moore have been around the block long enough to know that the real-tests haven’t arrived yet.

Latest top-25 power rankings. Latest top-25 power rankings. dark. Next

Be on the lookout for Nova’s 6-foot 8-inch power-forward alongside its 6-foot 4-inch point-guard in the coming days/weeks. As those fellas know, the Big East (conference schedule) is a war unlike any other; an environment that’s characterized by attrition (and) thru the presence of physicality, strength, and toughness. If one-word comes to mind as it relates to Dixon and Moore; it’s gotta be “tough”.