The state of the sports scene in the Philadelphia area is at its absolute worst, and the Villanova Wildcats have not escaped the cursed year that teams in the area have had.
The Wildcats are off to the worst start of any Big East team, besides perennial bottom-feeders DePaul, at 3-3.
A loss to Alabama at the 2K Sports Classic in New York City was expected, but losses to Columbia and La Salle in the following games showed that the Wildcats are going to have a tough season.
The road does not get any easier for the Wildcats, as they still have games against Vanderbilt, Temple, St. Joe's, Penn and Delaware before the gauntlet of Big East play begins in January.
Games against these strong opponents could mean the Wildcats will go into 2013 with just five wins; they are expected to beat Monmouth and NJIT at the end of December.
The question now for the Wildcats is what, if anything, can coach Jay Wright do to turn the season around before it gets ugly?
The biggest blow that the program took came back at the end of last season, when guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek decided to leave for the NBA, instead of playing their senior seasons at Villanova.
Those decisions were made too late for Wright to bring in any strong replacements for two of his best players.
The void left by Wayns and Cheek has yet to be filled with a consistent player who can be relied on each game by Wright. The players who have shown the most potential to fill the always-strong guard position at Villanova are freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, sophomore Darrun Hilliard and junior James Bell.
Arcidiacono showed a ton of promise in the team's first three games, but once he encountered the Alabama defense two weeks ago, he has shown that he is still just a freshman. Hilliard and Bell do have some experience, but they were not expected to show up until next season, when Wayns was supposed to leave.
The guard play is the biggest issue for the Wildcats, and there is not much Wright can do, other than give them playing time and make them learn from their mistakes.
With young players that have no experience, the best thing to do is give them playing time and hope they develop during the season.
The good news for Wright is that he does not have the same concerns about the big men on his team.
If there is one spot on the court that Wright does not have to worry about, it is in the paint with seniors Maurice Sutton and Mouphtaou Yarou guarding the paint.
Another player that will contribute to the game in the paint is sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston, who may turn out to be the best player on this team. After scoring just six points as a starter against Columbia, Pinkston came off the bench and scored 19 in the overtime loss to La Salle.
Pinkston will be a valuable player off the bench, and he will gain experience, not only from playing, but from learning under Yarou and Sutton.
There are very few things that Wright can do with his young team to make them better overnight, but throughout the season they will be able to gain experience and possibly pull off a few upsets to gain national attention.
This Wildcats team may not be a contender for any of the various postseason tournaments, but they will gain valuable experience and come back strong under the tutelage of Wright to contend for the Big East title next season.
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