Villanova Basketball: Ranking the Wildcats' Performance Last Week
Villanova's first week in Big East play was rough, but week two was even rougher.
Playing two home games against two very lightly-regarded teams in South Florida and DePaul, they were expected to get back to .500 in league play.
South Florida in particular was ripe for the picking. In their entire history in the Big East, the Bulls had won just 6-of-52 road games. Villanova had also won 51 of their last 52 games at the Pavillion.
Things didn't go according to plan on Thursday as South Florida came north and just took it to the Wildcats in every phase of the game, dropping them by a score of 74-57.
Luckily, in their last game before a showdown with Syracuse, Villanova was able to take care of business against DePaul, 87-71. It was the most points the 'Cats had scored since their opening game of the season.
It wasn't an impressive week for Villanova basketball, but here is how each player stacked up last week.
Maalik Wayns, Junior, Point Guard: C+
Wayns' scoring jumped, but that was it.
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Maalik Wayns has been far-and-away Villanova's most productive and consistent player this season. Last week, though, he showed his weakest performance to date.
Wayns averages 19.0 points per game, but he didn't hand out a single assist against South Florida. Against DePaul, he had six turnovers and just three assists. On a positive note, he grabbed 13 rebounds in the two games.
His shooting improved however, as he shot 50 percent from the field and from three-point range. He also knocked down 8-of-9 free throws.
Mouphtaou Yarou, Junior, Center: B
Yarou may be turning a corner.
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There may be no player more important to Villanova's success than Yarou, and he gave some reason for hope.
In just 16 minutes against South Florida, Yarou scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. He showed some efficiency on offense, but spent a lot of time on the bench in foul trouble.
On Sunday, he scored 14 points in 28 minutes, shooting 4-of-8 from the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line. He also grabbed seven rebounds and had two steals.
If Yarou can continue that type of production and stay on the court, he could make them a different team.
Dominic Cheek, Junior, Guard/Forward: B-
Villanova could use consistency from Cheek.
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If only Dominic Cheek could consistently deliver performances like he did Sunday against DePaul.
He poured in 20 points in 25 minutes. He shot 7-of-14 from the field and 2-of-5 from three-point range. He even added 4-of-5 from the foul line.
In the South Florida game he offered little offensively, scoring just four points.
On the plus side, Cheek shot 63.6 percent on his two-point field goals. He needs to play to his strengths.
James Bell, Sophomore, Guard: D
Bell has hit a rough patch.
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After being one of Villanova's most consistent performers in the first 12 games, Bell has fallen into a funk.
He only played 19 total minutes last week and scored just five points and grabbed two rebounds.
He made his only field goal attempt and hit three of his four free-throw attempts.
JayVaughn Pinkston, Freshman, Forward: B+
Pinkston has picked up his game.
Pinkston has been the most promising player over Villanova's last few games.
In two games last week he averaged 12.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 21.0 minutes per game.
He shot 8-of-11 from the field and 9-of-11 from the foul line. More encouraging than anything has been the attacking style he has developed offensively, and the toughness he has displayed around the rim.
Markus Kennedy, Freshman, Forward/Center: C
Kennedy hasn't produced in big minutes.
After playing impressive basketball in his first two Big East games, Kennedy took a step back last week.
He logged starts in each game and averaged 33.0 minutes. His production didn't increase along with his workload.
He scored a total of seven points and grabbed just 10 rebounds. He does continue to show a nice all-around game, dishing out four assists on Sunday, and getting three steals and three blocks for the week.
Darrun Hilliard, Freshman, Guard: C-
Hilliard doesn't lack in confidence.
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Hilliard is tough to grade.
He plays with a lot of energy and toughness and a ton of confidence, but he is young and out of control sometimes and makes his share of bad decisions.
Negatives aside, Hilliard never blinks. He scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds in 41 total minutes, but he shot 3-of-11 from the field and just 1-of-7 from three.
Hilliard attacks on offense and plays tough defense, but he isn't ready to be a consistent scoring threat.
Tyrone Johnson, Freshman, Guard: C+
Johnson is finally getting an opportunity.
Johnson was awarded his first career back-to-back starts last week, and began to show a little bit of what he can do.
His numbers weren't eye-popping, but he flashed some quickness, an ability to get into the lane, some passing skills and some scoring pop.
Against DePaul he scored seven points and dished five assists. He also turned it over eight times, but for a kid who missed significant time with a broken foot, it's good to see him get a chance to play.
Jay Wright, Head Coach: B+
Wright is showing his mettle.
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Wright showed a lot of courage earlier in the week by choosing not to start juniors Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek in Thursday's game against South Florida. There was a minor issue at practice and Wright showed that everyone is accountable, especially leaders.
Many wouldn't expect this high grade to be warranted having gotten embarrassed on their home court by such a bad team, but Wright did some great coaching last week.
His team was reeling, having lost their first three Big East games. They had one game left before playing mighty Syracuse this week.
Wright got his team together and coaxed a very good performance out of them on Sunday. He has also shuffled some players around.
He is using Ty Johnson in more of a point guard role, allowing Maalik Wayns more freedom to look for his own shot. He got the most out of his team and got a much-needed win. Wright will need to keep it up to develop this young team, and develop his three juniors into the on-court leaders they need.