Big East Summer Capsules: Villanova WildcatsPosted by mlemaire on July 20th, 2012
While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Villanova.
1. Bidding adieu to Kennedy and saying hello to Chennault.
The Wildcats made two important changes to their roster this summer. The first was officially saying goodbye to sophomore center Markus Kennedy who announced he would transfer, then reportedly reconsidered the decision, then ended up transferring after all. The second was welcoming former Wake Forest point guard Tony Chennault into the fold – the Wildcats also added former Rice guard Dylan Ennis, but he will have to sit out a year before making his Villanova debut. Kennedy showed some promise as a freshman last season, but he expected to be buried on the depth chart and decided to transfer to SMU. The Wildcats will miss the depth, but he wasn’t expected to make much of an impact this season anyway. The more important move is the arrival of Chennault, a Philadelphia native who received an NCAA waiver because of his mother’s health issues to play right away. Chennault averaged 9.2 PPG and 2.8 APG for the Demon Deacons before transferring and his arrival will be a huge boon for the Wildcats who lost starting guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek to the draft. Chennault may not become the same type of scorer Wayns was, but he should get every opportunity to start and instantly becomes the most experienced guard on the roster, so there is no doubt that Jay Wright is happy to have him.
2. Are the Wildcats starting from scratch?
That is the question that the Philadelphia Daily News posed earlier this month in a long article and interview with ‘Nova head coach Jay Wright. Last season was an unmitigated disaster, and say what you want about Wayns and Cheek, but they would have been valuable players to have this season. There is still a lot of talent on campus and more talent coming in time for this season, but this team hardly stacks up against some of the best teams Wright has assembled in the last five years. Wright acknowledges that his team has a lot of work to do before it can again achieve the success their fans have grown accustomed to recently, but he also thinks the program has built up enough credibility that a rebound can happen quickly. It will likely depend on how quickly freshmen Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu can become impact contributors and whether or not mercurial sophomore Tyrone Johnson can make the leap and become a consistent playmaker. Down the road it will depend on whether Wright can continue to land high-profile recruits, the types that helped the Wildcats make the Elite Eight and Final Four in recent years.
3. Temple is joining the Big East, so Wright better strap on his recruiting boots and go to work.
Up until this season, the Wildcats have always held something of a recruiting trump card when it was time to recruit local products. Temple and LaSalle and St. Joseph’s could offer proximity to home, but they couldn’t offer the allure of the competition and spotlight that came with playing in one of the country’s toughest conferences. All that has changed now that the Owls will become a member of the Big East next season, so the Wildcats should prepare for more bitter battles over local recruits. Temple has always been a good program but now it has essentially leveled the recruiting playing field with Villanova, making it tougher for the Wildcats to pick and choose which local recruits they want. The program’s status as the premier team in the area won’t change overnight, but the Wildcats don’t have its longstanding inherent advantage when it comes to wooing some of the best Philadelphia has to offer. The upped ante started this summer, so Wildcats’ fans better hope that Wright and his staff realize the additional factor of competition and have stepped up their efforts on the recruiting trail.