Catching up: questions on Villanova with VU Hoops

Drew Hallowell

St. John's (18-9, 8-6 Big East) heads into the rematch with the Villanova Wildcats (23-3, 11-2 Big East) this Saturday afternoon (1:30 PM tip off on Fox Sports 1) with extra pep in their step. The winners of six straight games, the Johnnies are confident and have become the Big East's best defense.

But can they stop the Villanova attack in Rysheed Jordan's homecoming? The Wildcats shoot 39.5% from beyond the arc in conference play, still get to the free throw line with high frequency, and are a squad almost as experienced as St. John's. To get back in the Nova state of mind, we asked Brian from VUHoops to catch us up on the Wildcats.

Q// What (if any) changes or improvements has Villanova made since the last time they played St. John's in Madison Square Garden?

They are pretty much the same team. I think they pay a little more attention to defense on the perimeter after the first Creighton loss, but I am not sure you could really tell that from how they played Creighton out in Omaha.... so, visibly, I'm not sure you'll notice a whole lot of difference. They still play good offense, sharing the ball well and shooting an obscene number of threes (and making around 36% for the season, 39% in league play).

Q// Why are the Wildcats so good from beyond the three-point line? How can a team stop their shooting?

Not that the 'Cats are any sort of Creighton, but they do get a lot of practice. Around 45% of their field goal attempts are from beyond the arc, and almost everyone takes a few shots per game. They have pretty good spacing on the perimeter and move the ball around to find their shot. The best strategy to stop them is to try and disrupt that perimeter passing, but the 'Cats score well inside too, with JVP and Ochefu looking comfortable in the paint.

Q// What's behind freshman guard Josh Hart's recent struggles?

Your guess is as good as mine. Most likely, teams finally have enough video on him to learn how to play his tendencies and he will have to adjust his game accordingly.

Q// Creighton's Ethan Wragge only had five points last Sunday vs Villanova; but Villanova lost by 21 after losing by 28 in the first Bluejays/ Wildcats matchup. What is it that Creighton does to beat the living fur off the Wildcats, anyway?

As I noted, the 'Cats paid a little more attention to the three-point line (the Jays only took about half as many from downtown), but Creighton is a matchup that Villanova just hasn't figured out yet. Jay Wright wants to be to man-defense what Jim Boeheim is to the 2-3 zone, and Villanova hasn't figured out how to man-cover against a team that is both deadly on the perimeter and has Doug McDermott.

Q// What's with Villanova and overtime on the road?

They love it, I guess. They've followed up every loss with an overtime win on the road this season. It's may be a coincidence, but I see it as a sign that the team isn't interested in quitting.

Q// Which 'Nova player is going to be the subject of a gauzy, sepia-toned retrospective about how he has overcome his struggles?

JayVaughn Pinkston. Going from being suspended all year as a freshman to one of the team's star players and a source of leadership, seems to work well.

Q// Will Villanova get to the Elite Eight and have their gauzy, sepia-toned retrospective aired?

The latest brackets give Villanova a pretty tough draw, and I don't expect that to change. The good news is that they won't face Creighton before the Elite Eight. They should get a pretty good first round game, and if they can stick around a 2-seed, you'd have to think their odds of making it that far are good.

Q// Bonus question: How's Emory's men's hoops doing?

15-7 and 7-4 in the UAA. It isn't Emory's best team in recent memory, but you know that my Eagles will be looking for revenge against arch-rival WashU the next time they play. (ed. note: which is next season.)

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