How do the Villanova Wildcats Stack Up This Season?

Mar 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright hands the championship trophy to his players after defeating the Creighton Bluejays in the Big East Conference Tournament final game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright hands the championship trophy to his players after defeating the Creighton Bluejays in the Big East Conference Tournament final game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

While the Villanova Wildcats have retooled their roster for the upcoming 2017-2018 season, how far can this team go in the NCAA Tournament?

Okay, I get it. Pete, why do we need to address this in June? The NCAA Tournament is a mere 284 days away. I mean, these kids just got out of school. Let them breathe, man. Hey, let a man do his thing. To me, this Villanova Wildcats team could end up dominating this year.

With many factors in play, including the returning veterans, quality recruits, and premier coaching, the Villanova Wildcats have the tools to go deep this season. Now, one can make the argument that every team has that. The Dukes, the Kentuckys, the Kansases of the world all have these attributes. Some might even say that Villanova is not equipped to hang in the NCAA Tournament. But, this argument does not do the Wildcats justice.

Veteran Presence

More from Section 215

Now, considering the fact that we really don’t know the exact rotations that head coach Jay Wright will implement, let’s speculate. Obviously, the locks for the starting roles are Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo. These two will anchor the backcourt for the Villanova Wildcats. With Josh Hart on the way out, Jalen Brunson could look to take the reigns as the leader of this Wildcats team. Donte DiVincenzo has premier athletic ability coupled with a solid jumper, which Villanova will need tremendously.

On the one hand, the backcourt may end up being the most important spot on this Villanova Wildcats team. Remember, Jalen Brunson will be a junior this season. He spent two years playing the starting point guard role. Obviously, he has the experience needed to lead a relatively younger Villanova Wildcats.

Must Read: Sixers: Nerlens Noel max offers will be clarification, not damnation of deadline trade

In addition, you have a young wing in Donte DiVincenzo who looks to improve upon a solid freshman year. Now, DiVincenzo’s role with the Villanova will most likely expand this season. He could become the primary option on offense. Similar to how Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono both landed starting roles while they were still underclassmen, DiVincenzo could do the same.

Even so, the Villanova Wildcats may need this veteran leadership now more than ever. Josh Hart, Darryl Reynolds, and Kris Jenkins have gone on to greener pastures. Without those key vets leading the way, a new-found source needs to step up. Hopefully, Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo fit the bill.

Youthful Excellence?

Next, we have an ever-growing insurgency of young talent. To be fair, every Division One program should hope to have an extra burst of underclassmen on the scene. Interestingly enough, the Villanova Wildcats could have a young team overall. That’s all well and good. Having a young team doesn’t automatically equate to success or failure.

Villanova Wildcats Basketball
Villanova Wildcats Basketball /

Villanova Wildcats Basketball

Now, the key here lies in how that youth responds to adversity. Young guys like freshmen Jermaine Samuels and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree could look to provide some depth. Given how they step up, they might even find starting roles. It all depends on how much work they want to put in.

Specifically, Jermaine Samuels could make his way to a starting role. The starting small forward position will be up for grabs. Normally, this would go to a veteran wing. Jay Wright likes his vets. But, now that Kris Jenkins has graduated, that spot is wide open. In a perfect world, Eric Paschall would fill that spot. However, he has shown inconsistency and may not be a lock for that spot. If Samuels can come into his own, he could very well steal that spot from the likely successor in Paschall.

Finally, we have a big man who could look to fortify the frontcourt for the Villanova Wildcats in Omari Spellman. Now, Spellman missed last season due to academic ineligibility. As a result, the Wildcats were left with a serious void up front. Spellman was a top recruit in 2016 and could have made a big difference for Villanova. Having him up front with the likes of Dylan Painter or Mikal Bridges may be just what the doctor ordered.

The Wright Way

Finally, we have the coach. No matter how talented your team is, the head coach needs to put it all together. Obviously, Jay Wright has a history of taking talented groups of men deep into the NCAA Tournament. Since 2001, Wright has only missed the NCAA Tournament three times (his first three seasons as head coach). Clearly, the man knows how to develop a program.

Wright’s history with the NCAA Tournament varies. He’s essentially gone through it all. From missing the tournament to winning it all, the Wildcats have shown extreme prowess. Clearly, that all leads back to one Jay Wright.

Now, this year’s team may not win it all. On the contrary, they could still compete at a high level. Similar to the 2016 team that won it all, this Wildcats team has veteran guards, relatively young wings, and a potentially solid front court. While they may not be at that caliber yet, anything can happen. As long as the team stays true to Wright’s game plan, the sky is the limit.

Next: Villanova Wildcats’ Donte DiVincenzo will excel next season

To me, Jay Wright’s ability to implement a culture centering around selfless, team-initiated play is key. If anything, while this team may not be on par with previous seasons, Wright wisdom could shine. It all depends on if his guys are willing to buy in. Given his history, Jay Wright could do just that.