Starting at BECB, we'll be bringing in a group of writers every week to discuss the Villanova Wildcats and issues around the Big East every week. Each week will be a group of writers who cover the teams we speak about at great detail. So without further ado, let me introduce this week's roundtable guests.
Is Lafayette even going to make Villanova break a sweat in the season opener on Friday?
Verlin: I think they do. The Leopards have some talent on the roster, starting with 6-foot-7 swingman Seth Hinrichs. The Second Team All-Patriot League selection averaged 14.5 ppg and 4.9 rpg last season, and he's an absolute marksman from the perimeter, making 45.9 percent of his three-pointers in his first two seasons. Last year, Lafayette was the 19th-best three-point shooting team in the country, making 38.4 percent, and if they get hot early against Villanova things could get very interesting against a Wildcats squad that isn't currently at full health. Fran O'Hanlon, the 19th-year coach at Lafayette, is a 1970 graduate of Villanova, and you can bet his squad would love nothing more than to open it season by helping their coach get a win over his alma mater.
Ewart: Maybe, but Jay Wright will probably use a pretty deep rotation in this one to keep everyone fresh. The 'Cats have a lot of talent and should be able to overpower the Leopards, but they will have to be sharp.
Lane: I doubt it. Lafayette has improved since 'Nova beat them by 45 in 2010, but there's still a huge gap in talent. Arch may be limited (maybe he doesn't even play?), but Villanova has too many horses in the stable, and if the exhibition win over WCU was any indication, they've got a lot of chemistry.
Tynes: I don't see any reason why they can't, but it will take a flawless effort from Lafayette and a disappointing one from the Wildcats. It will also depend mainly on injuries, but since Coach Wright said that Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins would be playing on Friday, I don't see much cause for alarm. Villanova proved in the preseason opener that they're more efficient on offense and Daniel Ochefu can greatly help the cause on the boards. Only one thing scares me about Lafayette and that's their high IQ offense and perimeter shooting, 19th in the NCAA last season.
Who's going to be the biggest surprise in Jay Wright's rotation this season?
Verlin: At 6-foot-11 and a solid 250 pounds, Daniel Ochefu is one of the top NBA prospects in the City 6 at this point only because of his size and potential. Last year, as a freshman, the Westtown (Pa.) graduate averaged 3.5 ppg and 4.1 rpg in 17.5 mpg in a mostly backup role to then-senior Mouphtaou Yarou. Now, the starting center job is all his, and while there are sure to be some bumps along the way, Ochefu is the starting center for the next three years and the expectations are high. He could average double-digit rebounds, and if he starts demanding the ball in the post, could have a breakout season.