Arcidiacono: The Catalyst for the 'Cats
When Sterling Gibbs decided to take out a bit of pent up anger and frustration on Villanova's cold-blooded point guard Ryan Arcidiacono you may have gasped, shook your head, and were quick to dismiss Gibbs for his violent act. If you did so, you clearly haven't watched the Wildcats' point guard enough. He's so efficient and steady, it's almost as if he's some sort of machine coded with an algorithm containing the killer traits of Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, and Elgin Baylor that was developed in the basement of a quaint Pennsylvania town by a scientist who happened to have an affinity for hoops. The fact that it took this long for a player to test whether or not Archie could feel pain and bleed is an absolute shock. His overall steadiness and push for flawless execution speaks volumes on his robot-like abilities as well as leading the #4 Cats to a top seed in the Big East Tournament and potentially locking up a 1-seed in the Big Dance. Let's open up the circuit board, pull some wires and come to the conclusion that Ryan Arcidiacono ultimately deserves the Big East POTY honor because the Robot of the Year award doesn't exist (yet).
Archie isn't the sexiest player in the Big East. He doesn't put up a whole lotta points (10.74 PPG), doesn't shoot lights out from the floor (40% FG%) and he isn't trying to fight his way into the trees to grab rebounds (2 REB/G). I suppose what gives Archie a whole heaping load of sex appeal is the fact that he rarely turns it over. He boasts a 2.4 AST/TO ratio which is tops against his competition for Big East POTY. Archie also possesses a 56.4% true shooting percentage (FG, 3PFG & FT combined), an eFG of 50% (FG + 0.5 * 3P) and is a dynamite free throw shooter as he sits at 81% from the line this year. Over the past three seasons, Archie has seen a dramatic decrease in personal fouls each season, which means he either is being reprogrammed at the start of each season to become less handsy, or he's becoming sentient and learning how Big East officials call games. In conjunction with this, however, Archie has also seen a decrease in his steals per game, which may mean he's developing morals and empathy towards his opponents. Either way, Archie has proven that he's the best at his position - and the numbers are telling of that.
The Clutchness Factor
Jay Wright's offense wouldn't survive very long without a top-tier point guard. Archie's favorite teammate and future NBA star, Darrun Hilliard, would be half the player he is if he didn't have someone dropping delicious dimes all over the place. Hilliard is the cog in the machine that is Ryan Arcidiacono. They feed off each other on the hardwood. Take a look at the cool-head Archie possesses with under a minute left in one of the great games of the season against Syracuse -
Fun fact: Archie had zero turnovers that game. He played 39 minutes and had nine assists. That's absolutely insane no matter who the opponent is, but given the fact that it was a Jim Boeheim coached Syracuse team is mind blowing. There's no doubt in my mind that without Archie, 'Nova loses that game. Finding Hart for 3 to put them within two and then finding Pinkston down low after nabbing the poorly played Syracuse inbound, with under 20 seconds, is inhuman. I'm telling you, Arcidiacono is a robot. Want more proof?
A little two man action between Hilliard, who dropped 31 that night, and Archie, who went 0-5 with a goose egg in the points column yet collected five assists and, after 34 minutes played, accounted for one turnover. Look how happy he is as he embraces Hilliard. Does that look like a man who missed every shot that night? No, it looks like a robot, a team player, who just got a game-winning assist after running a beautiful play. He's the i7 processor to the Alienware X51 desktop that is the Villanova Wildcats.
After reaching the 20-point mark once this season at the Dunk in a close win against the Friars, Archie responded to a slow first half for the Wildcats against Creighton by dropping in a season-high 23 points as well as knifing by Creighton guard Austin Chatman with under a minute left and collecting an and-one on the drive to take the lead for good. Clutch.
Consistency, Consistency, Constitutionally Brilliant Hooper
Ryan Arcidiacono is steady, deadly, and understands the momentum of the game of basketball. You look into his eyes and feel a cold stare that eats at your heart as he blows past you for a layup. The moment you believe you've got Archie and his Cats beat, he decimates the faint beat of hope into the stratosphere. Archie would build a bridge to free you from your island only to steal your livestock, water and gold, tie you to a post, then burn the bridge as he rides onto the mainland. He's a devilish foe who will stop at nothing to make you look foolish. A stereotypical villain, letting an underdog catch the scent of victory, then snatches it away in the waning moments and basks in it himself, right in front of you. I dislike using the term 'gritty' when describing an athlete, but Ryan Arcidiacono currently stars in a detective-noir and only has two bullets left; one for you and the other one to make sure the first was enough.
He's the catalyst to Jay Wright's entire Wildcat squad. An emotional leader, a proponent on allowing the opposing team to gain momentum, only so he can feel the immense satisfaction of stealing it back. He's the reason the Wildcats are the top seed, why they've only lost twice all year. In the defeat by the hands of Georgetown, the Hoyas were able to stop Archie from dishing the ball and left him with 0 assists on the night. That only happened twice the entire season, with DePaul attempting the Hoyas' strategy only to get burned by Archie for 18 points on 5-10 shooting (2-5 from 3 - 6-7 from the line). In the OT loss to Seton Hall, Archie couldn't buy a bucket from 3, going 0-4 from beyond the arc, turned the ball over three times yet still had 4 assists for a positive AST/TO ratio. In only 7 games this year did Archie finish with an AST/TO ratio under .500.
So, does Ryan Arcidiacono deserve the Big East Player of the Year? Yes. Yes he does. He's got the numbers, the consistent gameplay and just so happens to be the starting point guard on the top seeded Villanova Wildcats. We'll be seeing a lot more of Archie next season as he tears apart his competition in the Big East... again.