By Jon Rothstein
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1. UNPROVEN COMMODITIES
Villanova has a slew of players that could eventually turn into decent contributors at the Big East level — but most of them are unproven. With the exception of Mouphtaou Yarou, no one on the Wildcats roster has sustained productivity for the duration of a full season. James Bell and Jayvaughn Pinkston look like they’re both primed for big years but the perimeter — which has been the backbone of Jay Wright’s success during his tenure on The Main Line is exceptionally green. Ryan Arcidiacono is a true freshman while Ty Johnson, Darrun Hilliard, and Achraf Yacoubou are all sophomores that had marginal freshman seasons a year ago. The only real guard with tangible is experience is Tony Chennault, who transferred to the Philadelphia school after playing the first two seasons of his career at Wake Forest. Chennault averaged nine points per game last season and didn’t have to sit out after receiving a waiver to play immediately by the NCAA.
2. OUT OF THE GATE
It’s not as if this team has a grace period before they get to the Big East. Villanova’s second game of the year is against Conference-USA contender Marshall and then the Wildcats hit Madison Square Garden where they’ll play Purdue and then the winner/loser of Oregon State/Alabama in the 2K Sports Classic. Villanova also travels to La Salle and Vanderbilt in addition to hosting St. Joseph’s, Temple, and potential CAA sleeper Delaware. That’s an awfully tough slate for a young team trying to find its way.
3. RING THE BELL
James Bell looks ready for a breakout junior season. After battling injuries as a freshman and sophomore, Bell has added mass in his shoulders and appears to be ready to lead this young crop of Wildcats. With outside shooting a major question coming into this season for Villanova, Bell’s timely three-point touch will be needed if this team has a chance to overachieve in Big East play.
4. TONY THE TIGER
The addition of Tony Chennault was much needed for the Wildcats and they’ll especially feel it defensively on the perimeter. Built like a stocky bull, Chennault gets underneath anyone he guards on the wing or at the top of the key. He’ll be a lock down guy for Wright’s team against the opponent’s best scorer.
5. JAYVAUGHN’S TIME
The time is now for Jayvaughn Pinkston to put up big time numbers. This particular Villanova team doesn’t have a go to scorer and Pinkston needs to take the reins immediately. Noticeably svelte and in tip top shape, the combo forward should get plenty of shots and freedom in the Wildcats offense. Averages of 17 PPG and 7 RPG this season shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility if Pinkston plays up to his capabilities.
This will be by far the toughest coaching task Wright has had since he’s been head coach at Villanova. Guard play — which has been this program’s greatest strength is now a major question. Arcidiacono, Johnson, and Hilliard have a chance to be good players down the road but their teammates need them to produce now. If two of those three can become reliable scorers and Bell and Pinkston have stellar seasons than this team has a chance to overachieve. If they don’t, the Wildcats are going to have a real tough time scoring the ball, especially early on during their brutal non-conference schedule.
BY THE NUMBERS
Pinkston is this team’s best returning three-point shooter at 36.6%.
What’s your prediction for the 2012-13 Wildcats? Be heard in the comments below!