With two new guards being introduced to the program, Villanova coach Jay Wright has a plan to help them feel more comfortable within the flow of the game.
Both freshman Ryan Arcidiacono and junior transfer Tony Chennault are six games into their Wildcat career. Because of the learning curve, Wright has been trying to keep the game plan simple as they adjust their game to the rest of the team.
“Our two main ball-handlers, Ryan and Tony, are both new to our program,” Wright said after Villanova’s 77-74 overtime loss to La Salle. “So having JayVaughn (Pinkston), Mouph (Yarou), (James) Bell and Mo Sutton, they know a lot of things that we do over the years, but when your main ball-handlers don’t know what you’re doing, it makes it really difficult. We started with putting everything in, now we’re just peeling back, taking things out, trying to get those two…as a basketball player, when you think, you’re usually not as quick or as confident, so we’re just trying to simplify the best we can to help those two.”
In trying to keep it simple, Sutton got the start over usual starter Pinkston, who scored 19 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor and grabbing seven rebounds off of the bench.
“It’s going back to trying to simplify everything,” Wright said. “We’re playing JayVaughn at the three; I think he did a really good job coming off the bench today, so when you do that, you move other people around. We’re trying to get Tony and Ryan in simple spots doing the same thing, getting comfortable.
“That’s what it was, so we keep JayVaughn at the forward spot, not moving him back and forth and playing Tony at the one and the two, he has to play the one and the two and ‘Arch’ has to play the one and the two, so we’re just trying to keep it simple for those two and that’s what it’s a part of. JayVaughn understands and he’s great with it, you could see by the way he played tonight and we’ve got to get our ball-handling secured.”
Arcidiacono and Chennault were matched up against highly-touted La Salle guards Ramon Galloway and Sam Mills. Galloway was the main defender for the Explorers, who held the two Villanova guards to a combined 2-of-10 shooting from the floor and helped force them into nine turnovers.
“I think both our point guards struggled,” Wright said. “Ryan struggled, Tony struggled and I think that was a big part of the game. I think their guards just did a great job of pressuring our guards and not allowing them to get us in on offense. We struggled, especially down the stretch in both regulation and overtime, getting into our offense. I thought Galloway did a great job of pressuring Ryan and Tony.”
While keeping it simple may help in the long run, it hasn’t been kind to the Wildcats who, after a 3-0 start to the season, have fallen back to .500 with losses to Alabama, Columbia and La Salle. Turnovers have been a big part of the losses, as Villanova has turned the ball over 46 times during the losing streak, an average of more than 15 per game. But that doesn’t mean Wright has lost hope.
“Turnovers killed us in [those] games and turnovers killed us in this game,” Wright said. “That’s an issue for us and we have to improve in that area. When you lose a game like that, you realize you have a lot of work to do. But I think we can improve and be a good team by the end of the year, but we have a lot of work to do.”