Rather than put all Villanova roundup thoughts into one long piece, which will delay its posting, I’ll do each section as an individual, short snippet for ease of reading and clicks.
Almost as good as the eye test – on which Villanova scored a perfect ? last night – are the stats.
The only thing more pleasing than a review of the incredible numbers is actually seeing it on television or in person. This is the ‘Nova team that has now gone 94-13 over three seasons playing the game about as well as it can be played.
How good were the Wildcats against the ‘Canes? They scored all those points in just 61 possessions, an incredible 1.508 points per possession, after scoring 1.26 ppp against Iowa and 1.30 against UNC Asheville. They had as many steals (eight) as turnovers.
Through three games, they are shooting 64-for-100 (64 percent) on twos, 33-for-62 (53.2 percent) from three and 38-for-47 (80.9 percent) from the foul line with 61 assists. And when you asked the players what was up, all they could talk about was their defense.
This guy has it calculated a bit differently (under 60 possessions), but the sentiment is the same:
Villanova was scary efficient.
Kris Jenkins went 8-10 from the field & 5-6 on 3-pt FG against Miami.
He's shooting 51% on 3s in his last 10 games pic.twitter.com/oXKqG1KKGR
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 25, 2016
— John Clark CSN (@JClarkCSN) March 25, 2016
They’ve also out-rebounded their tournament opponents 90-72. Last night, they had almost as many offensive rebounds (9) as Miami had defensive rebounds (10). They were also 18 of 19 from the line. They’re getting to loose balls, creating turnovers, and dominating in the undefinable creating havoc and favorable bounces category, something which can’t be quantified other than in Villanova’s internal “Attitude” chart, which tracks such intangibles.
This is the best I’ve ever seen them play. The next closest is their 2009 stretch of UCLA-Duke-Pitt games. The famed four guards team of 2004-2005 and mostly 2005-2006 was dominant for stretches but always a bit one-dimensional. They got as far as they did on sheer talent and the will of Randy Foye.
But 2009 and this year are something different. I’ve always said Jay’s best teams are the ones with credible big men and balanced attacks compared to raw firepower. Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Maalik Wayns and JayVaughn Pinkston, some of Jay’s best recruits, all underachieved, relatively speaking, while Villanova has been at its best when guys like Dante Cunningham, Dwayne Anderson, Josh Hart and the current crop overachieved. I think in college if you don’t have true NBA first round talent, you’re better off having balance than one or two stars of fringe NBA or European ability. I’m not sure who on this team, right now, will play in the NBA. I suspect Hart and Ochefu, and eventually Brunson, will all see minutes – hell, Darrun Hilliard, who graduated last year, started for the Pistons the other night, and I didn’t see that coming – but no one is a sure-thing at this point. There is truly no number one. Hart is ostensibly their best player, but they didn’t miss a beat with him on the bench for almost half the game last night with foul trouble. It was Jenkins, Archie and Chef who stepped in. Then you have Bridges and his gangly arms keeping Miami out of sorts, and Brunson and his shiftiness keeping the defense honest. At times last night it looked like Miami was throwing the game– Villanova was scoring that easily. This is the one Nova team that can win with an off shooting night, but they’re shooting as well as they ever have. The rims are soft, too. Oh I love how yonder cylinder breaks.
I’m now convinced that they can beat Kansas even with a poor shooting performance. It would make things difficult, but I think they can do it. They’re that balanced, that good on D, and that tenacious on the boards. Never thought I’d say that.