Radnor, PA -- Jay Wright walked into practice Friday morning at the Pavilion, late and sporting a golf shirt, not his usual three piece suit.
Wright was cheerful. His team had a short week as they were rebounding from a barrage of final tests, papers and projects and he hadn't shaved in a few days. Though Wright joked about his scraggly beard, he appeared confident a few hours before his team's match up with Rider, a squad that took Purdue to the wire early in the season and is riding a three game winning streak.
"They are very similar to us. They have a lot of good guards who are very aggressive," Wright said scratching his newly-grown beard.
"They have a four man in Steward that's similar to JayVaughn. The press three quarter court just like we do, play a lot of man-to-man, so we've been able to practice against our own selves. Just name guys differently."
Rider (5-4) is paced by senior guard Anthony Myles who leads the team in scoring with 18.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 39.5 percent from deep. The Broncs also use a balanced scoring attack that not only lands them top-50 in the NCAA in scoring (43rd at 80.9 points per game) but also have three other players averaging double digit numbers.
Senior forward Daniel Stewart adds 16.9 points per game and is shooting 89 percent from the line. Jimmie Taylor and Zedric Sadler are combining for 23.7 points per game and close to nine boards. But Wright didn't appear too worried.
"[Rider] also has depth like we do," Wright said. "We gotta do what we do better than do what they do. It's going to be very interesting, I don't think it's anything different because we match up very similarly.
The Wildcats (10-0) defense will be the key to shutting down Rider on Saturday afternoon. No. 8 Villanova is one of the best defensive teams in the country. 'Nova is ninth in the NCAA in defensive rating, standing at 87.7. And the Wildcats know how to light up the nets with the best of them, scorching teams for 82 points per game on average, 29th in the NCAA.
Though they've been playing well as a team, sophomore captain Ryan Arcidiacono hasn't been pleased with his play this season. Arcidiacono said he's doing what he did last year and that nothing has changed. He said the team has prepared well but his shots are falling in practice.
"There's room for improvement for everyone," Arcidiacono told BECB before Friday's practice. "I'm doing what I did last year. Nothing has really changed. I'm just trying to perfect what I do. I think I'm taking good shots. I'm not worried about it. They'll eventually start falling for me.
"They're a good squad and a streaky team. We watched a little bit of film on [Rider], we will watch more today. We know their stuff and we know we have a game ready for us tomorrow."
- Tony Chennault was practicing his mid range game with a shooting coach about a half hour before practice started. Attempting to perfect a hop step in the lane and improve his ball security.
- JayVaughn Pinkston came to practice in a hooded sweatshirt and yelled "do we all have to shoot today?"
- Dylan Ennis explained his sneaker choice to BECB before practice started on Friday. He said he had to "bring some fire" to the court. Ennis also said he was happy with his minutes and that it "doesn't matter who's in the starting role" at the point guard position.
- Arcidiacono isn't too concerned about his poor shot selection and bad numbers to start the season. When asking Jay Wright if he had the green light at all times he responded: "Hell yeah man, of course."
- Henry Lowe looked very impressive from the perimeter in practice. Knocked down almost every shot coming off screens in live drills.