Tuesday Night at the Pavilion at Villanova, Villanova took on NAIA Northwood University coached by former Villanova head coach Rollie Massimino. The Wildcats easily rolled to a 93-50 victory, led by Darrun Hilliard, II with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Daniel Ochefu exploited some serious mismatches underneath en route to a 12 point, 10 rebound and 2 block performance.
Villanova, playing with a classy Jack Kraft Tribute Patch on their left shoulders, came out shooting hot. The first big surprise of the night was to see Dylan Ennis in the starting line-up.
The starting line-up clearly was able to exploit mismatches, play smothering trapping defense and jump out to a quick and significant lead. Most apparent was the added athleticism and explosiveness from Darrun Hilliard II. There was nobody on the floor that could touch Hilliard. Based on his performance Tuesday Night, we are not likely to see that change before November 24.
The starting 5, aside from Ennis, was pretty much what you would expect. Another interesting item was how frequently Jay Wright was talking to, coaching, or yelling at JayVaughn Pinkston. But this wasn't necessarily limited to Pinkston as the only time Wright wasn't coaching, teaching or motivating his players. Being mic'd up the entire game, you could hear some of his comments to players including "this is a real game," and " this isn't a scrimmage." The Coach certainly expected the intensity and passion of a Big East game from his players early on.
Northwood played strong on-ball defense all day, trapping and running like you would expect a Villanova team to do. Rollie's mantra of "get down and play" was repeated throughout and Northwood made a valiant effort on a Court where they were clearly overmatched. This team could be good in NAIA play this year, as Villanovans know, they certainly have the coaching to be good.
The freshman looked solid, Phil Booth's talent and control of the game was evident throughout. Mikal Bridges is a gifted athlete and is probably the second longest player on the team behind Ochefu. Bridges needs to add refinement and strength to his game. Twelve months and twelve pounds from now, Mikal Bridges will be a force. Daryl Reynolds really looked good in the second half, showing a little finesse under the boards and playing strong D. He looks like he could step in for more (but still limited ) minutes to provide the solution under the hoop when Villanova's "small" lineup will not suffice.
The biggest question left from watching the starting 5 and top 7 in the rotation is: Who can finish underneath? There were a number of missed layups that left you wondering why the Wildcats didn't just dunk it home. Also, will JayVaughn Pinkston be able to rebound more effectively to make up for the loss of James Bell. He got his hands on a lot of balls underneath, especially on the offensive end, only to see them bounce out of bounds.
A solid performance and a wonderful night at the Pavilion wherein the Wildcat's 1985 National Championship was celebrated left Wildcat fans wanting for nothing in the early season.