#10 Villanova Wildcats (7-0) vs. St. Joseph’s Hawks (4-3)
When: Saturday, December 6, 2014, at 1 p.m.
Where: The Pavilion
Coverage: Fox Sports 1
St. Joe’s Previous Season Record: 24-10, Lost to UConn in Opening Round of NCAA Tournament
Key Players for St. Joe’s: #43 DeAndre Bembry (6-6, 200) So., F; #15 Isaiah Miles (6-7, 225) Jr., F; #2 Aaron Brown (6-5, 220) Jr., G
Scouting Report: Gone are the days of Langston Galloway frustrating opposing defenses with his ability to score from anywhere on the floor. How about the tandem of Ronald Roberts Jr. and Halil Kanacevic, who proved to be a catalyst for their conference championship run last season. This St. Joe’s team is far different from the squad that made it to the NCAA Tournament and almost beat eventual champion UConn. It’s a new era, there are new faces stepping into bigger roles. DeAndre Bembry and Chris Wilson are the lone returning starters from last season. Bembry had a well-received freshman season and is looking to build upon that this year. Most of the offense will run through the sophomore forward, his scoring numbers have increased from last season. However, his efficiency has taken a hit. His shooting percentage has dropped 10%, down to 35.3% from 45.8%. He prefers to drive and slash his way to the basket, but he can shoot the three. However, this year he has worsened from beyond the arc, shooting only 7-for-34 (20.6%). One noticeable flaw in his game is his free throw shooting. Bembry is about the same to where he was last season. While there is a slight improvement, 60.6% versus 58.3%, it still isn’t impressive. As for Chris Wilson, he is off to a bad start. Last season he showed signs of being an effective three-point shooter, but has taken a step back this season. His stats have declined in nearly every category, dropping down to 6.3 points per game and 32.7% shooting. Junior forward Isaiah Miles has really stepped up this season. Miles barely saw any playing time as a freshman and sophomore. Since being thrusted into a starting role, he has 10.1 points per game and does well in his new role. Also, keep an eye out for Aaron Brown. Brown sat out last year after transferring from West Virginia. He may not have a role in the starting lineup, but he is an excellent role player. Brown comes off the bench and chips in ten or more points. However, he’s been fairly quiet these past two games; so watch out if he tries to get back on track. He is a slasher type guard, who prefers to drive and attack the basket.
Outlook: “The Holy War” has taken some interesting turns in the last few years. Three years ago, St. Joe’s beat Villanova pretty convincingly on their home court at Hagan Arena. The year after that spiced up the rivalry when Halil Kanacevic infamously flipped off the Villanova student section. Kanacevic sparked the crowd and he faced their wrath. Who could forget how it ended? Kanacevic bricked two free throws and single-handedly choked the game away when he couldn’t inbound the ball, securing Villanova’s comeback win. Last year, after a slow start, Villanova fired on all cylinders and blew out St. Joe’s in Hawk territory. As for tomorrow’s game? I don’t see a different result. St. Joe’s has lost their core players that were so instrumental to getting them into the tournament and winning the A-10 championship. Villanova has to shut down DeAndre Bembry, everything flows through the sophomore. They need to pressure the Hawks into looking in other directions, namely the perimeter. The Hawks aren’t a great three-point shooting team, they’re only shooting 22.9% from beyond the arc. They don’t seem to feature a sharpshooting threat, so let them pop threes all they want. This should be another Big 5 win for Villanova, but you never know. There’s always something special about rivalry games that bring the best out of both teams involved. The Wildcats simply have more talent and seem to be finding their rhythm so far. They should pick up the win here and build on some momentum before going back to New York City on Tuesday.
This is the first game of tomorrow’s doubleheader. Please, please, please come to the stadium right after the basketball game is over to support our football team as the they take on Liberty in their first playoff game.