The Villanova Wildcats had revenge on their collective mind as they hosted the Seton Hall Pirates at the Pavilion on Monday Night. The No. 6 Villanova Wildcats jumped out to an early 7-0 lead against the undermanned Pirates, who were without versatile big man Brandon Mobley. The Pirates senior forward was out for one game with a hyperextended knee.
The Wildcats closed out the half with a strong performance. They took a 36-20 lead into the locker room. Darrun Hilliard had 13 of his 18 points in the first half. The Pirates were led by Angel Delgado with 6 points and 5 rebounds at the break.
The second half was all Villanova, as they stretched the lead to as much as 30 points. The Wildcats had 5 players in double figures and one of them, Daniel Ochefu, grabbed 12 rebounds.
THREE THINGS WE LEARNED:
1. VILLANOVA GOT REVENGE
This Villanova team has a good memory. They played with a lack of a killer instinct in their last two performances against the Pirates. They lost both of those games. Not tonight. Tonight was Villanova's night. They played aggressively all night, their attacking style ran Seton Hall ragged. They got points from everybody and Jay Wright dod't empty his bench en route to a 26 point victory. The 'Cats wanted to send a message.
What it means is that Villanova continues to cement its place in the conversation for a number one or two seed in the NCAA tournament. As for the Hall, the loss comes at a bad time as they are quickly sliding into NIT purgatory, with a 5 game losing streak and a fractured clubhouse.
2. IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES
This game shows what team unity and clubhouse zen can do for you. The old school No. 6 Wildcats are so balanced and play with so much cohesion that they seem novel in today's college game of one-and-dones. The old has become the new. The 'Cats experienced team shows their time spent training together over three and four years in the program. More on that later.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Seton Hall Pirates. Recently the subject of an article that described everything from internal racial tensions to Isaiah Whitehead's posse of up to ten people, some of which are not even SHU students, being with him "everywhere." This concept was bolstered by a flagrant 2 foul against Sterling Gibbs, a normally level headed player, who was the Pirates last bastion of leadership with Mobley out and Sina gone. The Pirates downward spiral to the NIT or worse seems cemented now into most plausible projections for the season.
3. EXPERIENCE IS A RARE COMMODITY
The Pirates and Whitehead can have all the talent they want. They can't have what the Wildcats have. Villanova starts 3 juniors and 2 seniors who are all basketball players to their core. All five scored ten or more points tonight. They, along with sophomore super subs Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart, form the most experienced core in the top ten of the A.P. Top 25.
The Wildcats know where to find one-another in a way that you cannot learn quickly. It's innate, it's designed, it's mechanical, and it's beautiful. The 'Cats switch on defense like a world class relay team passes a baton. It is seamless and without a missed step. On offense they know where the open spots will be, when to attack and when to make the open pass. After struggling to shoot early in the season, their shots are now falling with regularity and its because of their execution of their offense more than an improvement in shooting ability. They are open to shoot and maximizing their opportunities.
Gibbs's cheap forearm-shiver to Ryan Arcidiacono's forehead got him thrown out and will probably see him suspended for atleast one game. It came from a place of frustration and brought an appropriately worried look to Fred Willard's face. Willard is coming under fire for the Hall's recent turmoil.