What can one game against a mid-major and an exhibition game tell us about a college basketball team?
In the case of the Villanova Wildcats, the two games—that some could deem meaningless—helped them learn a lot about their squad this season.
With redshirt sophomore Dylan Ennis out for at least a month and point guard Ryan Arcidiacono battling his own injuries, the Wildcats needed some role players to step up in the season opener on Friday against Lafayette, and they did just that.
Villanova's Dylan Ennis out a month with a hand injury, per the school. Was very impressive defensively when I saw him a few weeks ago.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) October 25, 2013
Here is a look at some of the early takeaways we have from the Wildcats' early season adventures.
Depth at Guard Will Not Be an Issue
All offseason long, we knew about how much depth the Wildcats have at the guard position, but we did not know how they would perform.
Against Lafayette, with Arciadiacono still banged up, Villanova used five different guards in their eight-man rotation.
Arcidiacono did play 34 minutes in the nonconference clash, but he failed to make an impact on the offensive end as he made just one field goal of the seven he attempted.
The sophomore stud did not have to worry about contributing much on offense on Friday because of the production that James Bell and Darrun Hilliard offered.
Bell led the team in points with 24 in the 75-59 victory while Hilliard added 13 points of his own.
Villanova 75 Lafayette 59. James Bell with a career-high 24. Jayvaughn Pinkston adds 22.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 9, 2013
Also earning playing time off of the bench were Tony Chennault and Josh Hart, both of whom played a significant amount of minutes in the blowout.
We're Still Not Sold on Daniel Ochefu
Center Daniel Ochefu is expected to be the main paint-presence for the duration of the season, but on Friday, he played just 19 minutes as Villanova went to a heavy-guard lineup, with JayVaughn Pinkston filling in for the sophomore down low.
By playing just under a full half of basketball and scoring only four points, Ochefu did not give us any signs of what exactly he will offer on the offensive end.
Something that did stick out in his stat line at the end of the game were his 11 rebounds, four of which came on the offensive side of the ball.
Having a strong amount of offensive rebounds by Ochefu will be massive for the guard-powered lineup that, if healthy, could contend for the Big East regular season title.
Inclusion of Freshmen Could be Crucial
Two of the three Wildcats freshmen got to see some playing time on Friday, with Hart being handed 20 minutes of play and Kris Jenkins receiving four in garbage time.
By playing so much early on, it shows that Hart has earned the trust of head coach Jay Wright, and he could play a bigger role in the team as long as Ennis is out.
Getting experience will be crucial for both players, but how much experience either player will get is still unknown.
Jenkins looks like he will mostly be used as a substitute late in the game, but if Ochefu fails to impress, he could join Pinkston in the frontcourt rotation to add more depth.
Hart could be battling with Chennault for playing time once Ennis heals up, and the upcoming stretch before the Battle 4 Atlantis could help Wright make that decision, if there is one to make.
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