Villanova Basketball: 2014 Offseason To-Do List for Wildcats
Despite having a terrific regular season, the Villanova Wildcats showed that they were not ready for the national spotlight during the 2013-14 campaign because of two early exits in the postseason.
With plenty of returners and more expectations on their shoulders entering the 2014-15 season, the Wildcats will have to work on some key things during the offseason.
Here is a look at an offseason to-do list for Jay Wright's team.
Become a More Balanced Team on Offense
On too many occasions during the most recent season, Villanova relied too much on the three-point shot.
That heavy reliance on production from downtown ultimately helped bring down the Wildcats in losses to Seton Hall and UConn in the postseason.
Only one player, Darrun Hilliard, shot over 40 percent from three-point range on a guard-heavy team that should have dominated more big games from that part of the court.
With two consistent paint players in JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu returning, Wright must find a way to get them more involved down low on offense.
If that happens, Villanova could be able to hit opponents from all angles next season.
Use Postseason Failure as Motivation to Get Even Better
The Wildcats had a terrible showing in the postseason, as they lost to Seton Hall in the first round of the Big East tournament and to UConn in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
The shortcomings of the team have to be chalked up as a failure, but it can also be labelled as a learning experience.
Now that the Wildcats have the two postseason memories stuck in their heads for an entire offseason, they should be able to use the defeats as motivation to become even better in preparation for the 2014-15 season.
Villanova did not have much postseason experience on its roster heading into the Big Dance, and it showed, but now that all of the players on the roster have tasted the postseason, look for them to be hungrier than they were this past season.
Continue to Develop Younger Players
One of the good things about Villanova's program is that players do not typically leave before their senior season ends.
That is a massive benefit to the Wildcats, who will enter next season with a ton of experience.
During the 2013-14 season, Wright gained more trust in first-year players Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart, both of whom were able to contribute plenty of quality minutes off the bench.
Now that both players know exactly what their roles are, they will be able to work harder to make sure that Villanova is a team that can go eight or nine deep on the depth chart.
There may also be a starting spot available for either player due to the departure of James Bell.
That means that there could be a direct competition between the two players that could make each player better in the process.
Let the Incoming Freshmen Know They Can Contribute Immediately
The two incoming freshmen to the Villanova program, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges, must have been thrilled to see Jenkins and Hart receive playing time throughout their freshman seasons.
With that in the back of their minds, Booth and Bridges should attack their first collegiate practices with a ton of effort.
If the pair can win over Wright with their displays on the practice court, they could get a look during nonconference play.
Once the duo earns minutes on the court, it will only be a matter of time before the impact they have on the program grows.
Improve on Free-Throw Shooting
Any team that shoots 71.6 percent from the free-throw line is bound to be upset at any moment.
As we saw in the national championship game, and most of the NCAA tournament, missing free throws can lead to defeat in big games.
The Wildcats must improve on their percentage from the charity stripe next season in order to contend in close games.
The only player who averaged over 80 percent from the free-throw line, James Bell, is graduating, which means someone, preferably multiple players, will need to fill that void.
Every single returning player must work on their free-throw shooting abilities during the offseason, because having four starters shoot under 75 percent from the line is something that just can't happen again.
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