Jay Wright's Villanova teams have been very successful in recent years; a sweet sixteen in 2008 and a final four in 2009 proves that.
Villanova in 2010-2011 has had some tough losses and has had their share of marquee victories. The team is third in the Big East and has a record of 19-4 and are 7-3 in conference play.
Early in the year, Villanova took a tough loss to No. 24 Tennessee (now unranked) in the finals of the Preseason NIT; they lost to No. 8 Connecticut (now No. 9) on a Kemba Walker floater with two seconds remaining in the game; and a tough No. 20 Georgetown (now No. 11), where they controlled most of the game.
If Austin Freeman didn't explode in the second half, Nova would have one less loss right now.
The team this year has showed signs of greatness, beating Syracuse at the Carrier Dome when the Orange were ranked No. 3 in the nation. Villanova is a different team this year than teams in the past, and they will make a deep run in the tournament this March.
Here are some reasons why this will occur:
Villanova has three seniors in their starting lineup. Upperclassmen leadership in college basketball is very rare nowadays, with all these one-and-done players.
Corey Fisher is averaging 15.7 points per game this year and five assists. He is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, which is awarded to the nations top point guard.
Another dynamic senior is Corey Stokes. Stokes has been slumping lately, but is still averaging 14.8 points per game, and is shooting a deadly 41% from downtown.
The third starting senior is forward Antonio Pena. Pena is averaging 10.7 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is so hard to guard because of the way he plays with his back to the basket, and can step out and hit a mid range jumper.
Jay Wright has said Pena is the best leader on this team, on and off the court.
2) An inside presence
Ever since Dante Cunningham graduated, they have lacked a legitimate inside presence.
With the emergence of sophomore Mouphtaou Yarou, and Antonio Pena's leadership, Villanova now has the forwards they have been looking for since the departure of Cunningham.
Yarou and Pena combine for 19.5 points per game and 14.5 rebounds a game. Those are great numbers from your starting forwards.
To make a deep run in March, an inside presence is needed; Villanova now has one.
Minus Coach K, John Calipari, and Billy Donovan, there are not many coaches are better than Jay Wright.
His players love him and they all play hard for him. His in-game strategy is excellent, especially watching his adjustments made to the tough Syracuse 2-3 zone. Wright's team tore up the zone, going on to the win the game at the Carrier Dome.
A coach can only do so much, but Jay Wright is very good at what he does.
4) Bench play
Recently, sophomore guard Maalik Wayns has been moved out of the starting lineup. This adds to a very deep and talented bench.
Along with Wayns, Dominic Cheek and 6-11 forward Maurice Sutton also come off the bench. The three players combine for 23.4 points per game.
Also, Wayns is averaging a solid 4.9 assists per game and in the win at Syracuse had a team high 21 points.
The bench has been an important factor in Villanova's play this season.
All in all, Villanova will be successful late into this season. They have all the tools to make a run in March, but the question is whether they will show up late in the season.
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