Villanova Basketball: 5 Things That Should Worry Wildcat Fans in 2014-15
There are just a few more months left until the college basketball season kicks off, which means it is time to begin to take a look at how certain teams will line up and what their flaws will be.
The Villanova Wildcats turned in a successful 2013-14 campaign, but they fell apart in the postseason with an early exit in the Big East Tournament and just one win in the NCAA tournament.
With most of his squad back from last season, head coach Jay Wright should be able to lead the Wildcats back into the NCAA tournament, but just like every team, there are concerns entering the season for Villanova.
Continue reading on for the five biggest things fans should be worried about during the 2014-15 season.
The Quality of the Big East
In the downsized Big East conference last season, Villanova was able to beat up on everyone except Creighton to earn the regular-season title.
Although they did rack up 16 victories, the Wildcats did so against a plethora of weak teams like DePaul, Butler and Marquette.
When the games began to matter in March, the Wildcats could not keep their winning ways up because the intensity of the games was higher than almost every conference game they played.
The quality of Villanova's conference opponents also hurt it in the NCAA tournament, as it struggled with Milwaukee for a half before losing to eventual national champion UConn.
Lack of Major Nonconference Games
Another concern about the schedule for the 2014-15 season is the lack of marquee nonconference games that the Wildcats have scheduled.
Other than the rivalry clash with Syracuse at the end of December, only the involvement in the 2014 Legends Classic in Brooklyn looks appealing to the potential NCAA tournament resume of the team.
While it is nice to play Big Five rivals Temple, La Salle, Penn and St. Joseph's, none of those teams will prepare the Wildcats for a big game in March like Syracuse or Michigan will.
If things go right, the Wildcats could play a strong Illinois team at the Jimmy V Classic, but that potential win could go to waste if the Fighting Illini get beat up in the Big Ten, which has a strong chance of happening.
The Wildcats can't play in a big-time tournament like the Battle 4 Atlantis every year, but it would have been nice to see Wright schedule one or two better opponents, especially because the Big East isn't what it used to be.
There is no need to worry about the numbers the starting five will put up in the upcoming season, but the production from the bench players could be a major concern.
With either Kris Jenkins or Josh Hart filling James Bell's spot in the starting lineup, only one of the two off-the-bench sensations from last season will come off the pine.
Behind the loser of the starting battle will be Dylan Ennis, Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth on a bench that doesn't carry much experience.
Ennis never found a good fit in the lineup last season, while Bridges and Booth are freshmen who may have to be relied upon like Hart and Jenkins were last season.
With a likely nine-man rotation to start the season, depth could become an issue in a few games for the Wildcats.
Who Replaces James Bell in Starting Lineup
James Bell was the breakout performer of the 2013-14 season, but someone will have to replace his 14.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
That will be no easy task for the Wildcats, but the job will not be done by one person, as a committee of guards should be able to fill the void left by Bell.
Ryan Arcidiacono should be able to up his point totals, as should Darrun Hilliard, but the pressure will be on Jenkins and Hart to deliver in their sophomore campaigns to ensure the Wildcats don't fall off the pace they set last season.
In the rebounding department, center Daniel Ochefu will see the pressure around him grow in his junior season after he only contributed 6.1 boards per game last season.
Play in the Paint
There will be little to no concern about the performance of the guards, but there will be plenty of doubt surrounding the frontcourt, especially if the inside players fail to get off to a good start.
Now that Ochefu has a season as a starter under his belt, he will be expected to deliver more than his 6.1 rebounds per game, but he will also require help from JayVaughn Pinkston down low.
Behind the two starters on the depth chart is Darryl Reynolds, a sophomore who did not make a major contribution last season, and Bridges.
The duo of Ochefu and Pinkston should be able to carry the load in the paint for most of the season, but if one of the two struggles, there aren't many reliable options to come off the bench, if there are any.
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