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Preseason Preview: Villanova

Marquette Men's Basketball

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 18-19 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: Villanova Wildcats
17-18 Record: 36-4 (14-4 Big East)
Postseason?: You may have seen them hoisting the national championship trophy
17-18 KenPom: 1
Date: February 09, 2019 & February 27, 2019
Location: Fiserv Forum & Finneran Pavilion (Villanova, PA)
Coach: Jay Wright (18th season)
Projected KenPom Range: 5-25
Projected Conference Finish: 1/10 in the Big East

Departures from 17-18
Jalen Brunson: Starting PG: 31.8 mpg, 18.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.6 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.8 tpg, .521 FG%, .408 3P% (Declared for the draft, drafted 33rd overall by the Mavericks)
Donte DiVencenzo: Starting SG: 29.3 mpg, 13.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.0 tpg, .481 FG%, .401 3P% (Declared for the draft, drafted 17th overall by the Bucks)
Mikal Bridges: Starting SF: 32.1 mpg, 17.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.1 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .514 FG%, .435 3P% (Declared for the draft, drafted 10th overall by the 76er and then traded to the Suns)
Omari Spellman: Starting C: 28.1 mpg, 10.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.5 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .476 FG%, .433 3P% (Declared for the draft, drafted 30th overall by the Hawks)
Tom Leibig: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 15 games (Graduated)
Denny Grace: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 15 games (Graduated)
Matt Kennedy: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 12 games (Graduated)
71% of scoring, 60% of rebounding, 66% of assists, 65% of steals, 69% of blocks, 74% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Jahvon Quinerly: 5-star PG, ranked #29 by 247 Composite
Joe Cremo: Grad Transfer SG from Albany
Cole Swider: 4-star PF, ranked #44 by 247 Composite
Brandon Slater: 4-star SF, ranked #53 by 247 Composite
Saddiq Bey: 3-star SF, ranked #138 by 247 Composite
Dylan Painter: Backup PF, returns from redshirt
Tim Saunders: Walk-on SG

Probable Starters:
PG: Jahvon Quinerly: 6’1” 175 lb FR: 5-star PG, ranked #29 by 247 Composite
SG: Phil Booth: 6’3” 194 lb RSSR: 27.4 mpg, 10.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .441 FG%, .379 3P%
SF: Joe Cremo: 6’4” 191 lb SR: 35.3 mpg, 17.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.3 bpg, 2.1 tpg, .458 FG%, .458 3P% (stats for Albany)
PF: Cole Swider: 6’9” 210 lb FR PF: 4-star PF, ranked #44 by 247 Composite
C: Eric Paschall: 6’8” 255 lb RSSR PF: 29.8 mpg, 10.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.7 tpg, .533 FG%, .356 3P%

Probable Bench:
Collin Gillespie: 6’3” 183 lb SO PG
Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree: 6’9” 226 lb SO C
Brandon Slater: 6’7” 205 lb FR SF
Jermaine Samuels: 6’7” 220 lb SO SF
Saddiq Bey: 6’8” 220 lb FR SF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Dylan Painter: 6’11” 224 lb RSSO C
Tim Delaney: 6’8” 224 lb RSJR PF
Peyton Heck: 5’11” 175 lb SR PG
Tim Saunders: 6’4” 200 lb SR SG

Notes:
• Dominance. Dominance is the only the word that can describe the 18-19 version of the Villanova Wildcats. They didn’t just win the National Championship, they won it in style, embarrassing every opponent along the way. In the tournament their average margin of victory was 17.7 capped off with a 17-point victory that wasn’t really that close in the championship. Quite honestly, the distance between Villanova at #1 and whatever team you think was second best last year was greater than the distance between #2 and #10. This is just what happens when you have four players on the roster who were good enough to get drafted, including one in the lottery and two others in the first round. Draft night was historic for Villanova but it also leaves them with massive holes to fill in their roster. The Big East is Villanova’s playground until proven otherwise, but this is the most vulnerable they have been since realignment.
• The likely new star in the City of Brotherly Love is fifth year senior Eric Paschall. Paschall started his career at Fordham where he earned the A10 Freshman of the Year award. He turned that into a scholarship offer from Villanova and has now gotten to enjoy two national championship seasons. He is a stretch four who will end up playing a lot of five for Villanova. He is very mobile despite his size and has a variety of post moves to work around opponents. He is deadly in catch and shoot situations even from range though it took him awhile to find his shot in Philly. His first year as an active Wildcat he shot below 30% on the season. His second year, he started the season 1/25 from range. Something clicked at that point and he finished the season shooting 46% from deep. The lucky team that he faced when it finally clicked? Marquette of course. He went 3/3 in Villanova’s rout of the Golden Eagles in Philly. Given Nova’s lack of size, Pachall is going to need to become a more dominant defender and rebounder if they are going to maintain the level of success that Nova fans have become accustomed to.
• The other returner likely to be in the starting rotation is fifth year senior Phil Booth. The Baltimore native made a name for himself in Nova’s first national championship game. He was electric, scoring 20 points on 6/7 shooting in the win over North Carolina. This was in addition to his trademarked lockdown defense that he had provided off the bench all season. He was expected to play a major role in Nova’s 16-17 campaign but saw an injury shorten his season to only three games. Booth returned this past season as the fifth starter and continued to bring intensity on defense and some scoring punch offensively. His eFG% last season wasn’t stellar and with an increased workload that is not likely to improve. But Booth has the ability to take even the best guards in the country out of a game on the defensive end and will be a vital part of the starting lineup.
• With four starters departing, Coach Wright has a lot of scoring to replace. He turned to the grad transfer market and found a lightning rod of a guard at Albany. The Great Danes of Albany have been one of the best mid-major programs over the past three years. This run has flown under the radar as they have been overshadowed by Vermont being in the same conference. A big part of this run has been because of the presence of Joe Cremo. Cremo was an unheralded local recruit from a suburb of Albany. He was a double digit a game scorer as a freshman and the best player on the team by the time he was a sophomore. This past season, he was the model of offensive efficiency. He has every tool in the offensive tool belt, shooting 46% from three (over 150 attempts), breaking down defenses 1 on 1, and even posting up smaller guards. He wasn’t just a scorer as he led the team with 3.8 assists. His defense leaves a lot to be desired and may be exploited in the Big East. Albany only played one high major this past season, a road matchup with Louisville. Albany fell short by just two points with Cremo scoring 18 including 3/4 shooting from range. If Cremo can perform at that level against all of Nova’s high major opponents, then their drop off may not be as steep as originally anticipated.
• Villanova brings in a top ten recruiting which is also the best of the Big East. The crown jewel of the class is 5-star PG Jahvon Quinerley. Quinerely committed to Nova after decommitting from a different set of Wildcats, the ones down in Tucson. Quinerely decommitted after being connected to the FBI probe but there has been no indication that it will affect his eligibility in Philly. Quinerley is a shifty pass first PG with a basketball IQ that is off the charts. He doesn’t have the overpowering athleticism that you might expect from a 5-star but he will be dangerous floor general for Nova. Cole Swider is another top 50 recruit who should see immediate playing time. Swider is built in the model of Kris Jenkins, a sharpshooting forward that can stretch defenses out or find shots in the mid-range. He may come off the bench but his size and shooting may give him the chance to play big minutes early. His defense and rebounding may hold him back as both are areas of weakness in his game. Rounding out the class is Brandon Slater and Saddiq Bey, a pair of super athletic wings that should give Coach Wright some needed depth.
• Nova’s class of 2018 may be rated higher, but their class of 2017 shouldn’t be counted out to be major contributors. Collin Gillespie was a pleasant surprise for a 3-star guard. He played significant minutes and proved to be a calm and composed floor general even if he will never bring scoring the way that Brunson did. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree was terrifyingly efficient in his freshman year. His eFG% of 77.9% would have been the best in the Big East if he had enough attempts to qualify. With Spellman gone, expect Cosby-Roundtree to have a much larger role, though his lack of an outside shot limits what he can do in Wright’s portionless basketball. Lastly, Jermaine Samuels didn’t show much last year as he was held to 6 minutes a game and only 1 point per game. He was hampered by an injury all of last season and was the highest rated recruit in the 2017 class. If starts playing like his top 50 rating out of high school, he could be a surprise most improved player on the roster.

Prediction:
• When Marquette and Villanova play each other this season, there is a good chance it will be a #1 vs. #2 matchup in the Big East. Nova has been lightyears ahead of Marquette since realignment, but Marquette has always put up a tough fight, especially at home. Despite, how much the Wildcats lost, they are still way too much for Marquette in Philly, winning by double digits. But Marquette returns the favor at home with a win, not a big one, but one that isn’t decided in the final minute either.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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