Breaking Down Whether Villanova Will Get Better or Worse in 2014
The Villanova Wildcats were one of the most overachieving teams in college basketball during the 2012-13 season as they made the NCAA tournament as a No. 9 seed.
The 2012-13 edition of the Wildcats may have been one of Jay Wright's best seasons at the school because of the uphill battles he faced with such a young squad.
Now, with the 2012-13 season over, it is only fitting that we begin to look ahead to how the Wildcats will look in the 2013-14 season.
The biggest change that the Wildcats will face does not have to deal with their roster, but with their conference affiliation.
Villanova is a part of the so-called Catholic 7 that broke away from the old Big East to form the new American Athletic Conference, along with Butler, Xavier and Creighton. The competition level in conference play will certainly go up with three quality basketball schools joining the already strong Catholic 7.
No matter who they face in the Big East next season, Wright's Wildcats will have high expectations based on what they achieved as a young group this past season.
Led by point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who will be a sophomore next season, the Wildcats are in good hands in the backcourt.
Also returning to the backcourt lineup next season will be Tony Chennault and James Bell, who will be seniors, and Darrun Hilliard, who will be a much-experienced junior.
Arcidiacono went through plenty of growing pains during the 2012-13 season—toward the end of his first year at the collegiate level, he began to develop into his own.
Hilliard also came alive towards the end of the season with strong performances against Georgetown and North Carolina.
The duo of Arcidiacono and Hilliard should continue to develop during the offseason and they should turn into one of the best backcourt duos in the conference next season.
Add to that the defensive abilities of Bell and the contributions off of the bench provided by Chennault, and Wright has no reason to worry about his guards next season.
One player who will not return next season for the Wildcats is Achraf Yacoubou, who decided to transfer after his sophomore season (via Philly.com).
Wright will have to worry about who he plays in the frontcourt next season after the departure of center Mouphtaou Yarou due to graduation. Yarou's departure means that the role of Daniel Ochefu will be greater than the one in his first season with the Wildcats.
Ochefu could potentially be partnered in the frontcourt with leading scorer JayVaughn Pinkston. Pinkston was the most valuable player for Villanova in the 2012-13 season and he may be asked to slide further down the court because of his 6'7" frame.
Pinkston and Ochefu will also be helped by the addition of Kris Jenkins, who will enter the collegiate game from Gonzaga College High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Whether or not Jenkins will contribute much to the Wildcats still remains to be seen.
With a likely starting five of Arcidiacono, Hilliard, Bell, Pinkston and Ochefu, the Wildcats will have to rely on their bench once again to provide quality minutes if the starters get into foul trouble or struggle on the court.
While they will have plenty of expectations at the conference level, the Wildcats will still receive attention on the national level. With that being said, Villanova could shock plenty of people with a talented, young core that has played together for a full season already.
There is no doubt that Villanova's 2013-14 campaign will be much better than the campaign that closed up shop a few weeks ago.
Whether or not the young Wildcats are ready to live up to their expectations for next season is still to be seen—but, based on the potential they showed this season, Villanova fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about next year's team.
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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