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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Wildcats of Villanova

Wow! That was quick! Almost as quickly as the season started for the Georgetown Hoyas, it approaches its conclusion. Saturday’s game at Villanova marks the regular season finale and gives us the chance to reach out to talk hoops, peanut butter, and Harrison Ford movies with our Villanova blog buddies. Our usual partner for these things was out of commission, so Catherine from VU Hoops stepped up. Take a look at her insights below!

Villanova has three losses in its last seven games. What’s been the issue for this team lately?

Where to begin? Well, first off, our schedule was ridiculously back-loaded with road trips to Xavier, Providence, Creighton, and Seton Hall coming in quick succession. If you told me at the beginning of the year that we’d go 2-2 in those games I probably would’ve taken it. Beyond that, Villanova fans will regale you with a number of excuses as to why the team has struggled lately. The reality is that Villanova shoots a lot of threes (have you heard that?) and, when they aren’t falling, the team has been slow to adjust. In losses to Providence and Creighton, and whatever the hell that sh*tshow against Seton Hall was, ‘Nova shot a combined 24% from deep. There are a number of other things you can point to, such as the team just now getting healthy, Jay Wright toying with line-ups, and the defensive struggles (which are actually improving), but that’s the long and short of it.

This team seems to consistently rely on the outside shot to win. How much does that make you worry about March?

Oh, so you have heard. Well, Jay Wright has conditioned the ‘Nova faithful to essentially have a Stockholm Syndrome-type relationship with the deep ball. We yell and tweet “shoot ‘em up, sleep in the streets” as Donte DiVincenzo throws up a moon-ball 4 seconds into the shotclock with a lead in overtime (entirely hypothetical). The risk/reward is what keeps us coming back. Five players average over 40% from three and, when even a fraction of those players are hitting, opposing teams just can’t keep up. That being said, we’ve seen what happens when ‘Nova goes cold and I’ll admit that the team’s reluctance/inability to adjust is incredibly frustrating. So, as March begins, our minds again begin to imagine another early-round upset at the hands of [insert token Power 5 squad here]. Terror is part of March.

A lot of Nova’s guys seem to have stepped up their output this season. Who do you think has taken the biggest leap forward this year and why?

This season has had a lot of twists and turns due to the fact that sixty-seven people on ‘Nova’s roster have broken their hands. In fact, both an incoming ‘Nova recruit and former ‘Nova great Josh Hart have also broken their hands this season. As a result, different guys have been asked to step up throughout the season and play more than the staff originally intended. That being said, I’ll overlook the obvious contributors (and ignore NPOY Brunson) and highlight freshman Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. His numbers aren’t gaudy but, when you watch him in game, he’s incredibly advanced for a freshman. He’s always in the right spot, can create and read passing lanes, and is incredibly efficient on offense (shooting 76%!). I think the coaching staff has to be thrilled with what they’ve seen from him so far this season. However, he’s only seen the floor for a combined ten minutes the past two games (after averaging 12 per game) so it will be interesting to see if that trend continues.

Where do you see this team going next year? Apart from Scottie Reynolds, who stays for another year? How does that impact the expectations?

With Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson headed to the NBA, the eyes of the (‘Nova) nation turn to Eric Paschall and Phil Booth. Both will be graduating this year but will still have eligibility remaining (Paschall due to his transfer from Fordham and Booth due to his medical redshirt last year). At this point, it’s honestly impossible to predict whether they will elect to return to school or pursue a professional career. The smart money appears to be on both returning, with indications that Phil Booth has potentially already started a graduate degree, but obviously those are the two biggest question marks at this point. Beyond that, the team will most likely return Spellman and DiVincenzo and will welcome in 5-star PG Jahvon Quinerly to take the reins from Brunson (with spot minutes from Scottie). If Booth and Paschall return, ‘Nova keeps humming. If not, the rising sophomores and incoming freshman will be shouldering a lot of the load, which could suggest ‘Nova is in for a “down” year.

As of today, does Villanova make the Final Four: yes or no?

During the first like 80% of this season, Villanova looked like an all-world offense with an average defense that could ride it’s absurd outside shooting to San Antonio. Recently, that offense has petered out and that has highlighted that Villanova struggles to adjust in-game, which, as we know too well, spells disaster in March. While the back-loaded schedule undoubtedly makes this appear worse than it is, it’s hard to feel like Villanova is trending in the right direction. So, at this point, I would say “no” just because it’s been tough to watch this shooting slump. However, had you asked me this question three weeks ago, I would’ve been booking flights. THIS IS MARCH.

Now on to important business: Peanut butter! Which brand is your go-to? And do you go or smooth or chunky?

Chunky. Smooth is for weak men and communists. I subscribe to the belief that peanut butter is essentially a salad and I eat it as such. I keep a jar in my desk with a box of plastic forks (I’m single, inquire within). I won’t say I have a brand loyalty but I trend toward JIF or the Skippy Extra Crunchy. I dabbled in the all-natural peanut butter for a hot second but having to mix in the oils every time I opened the jar was a deal breaker for me. I don’t need to see how the sausage is made. Leave some mystery.

The Oscars are on Sunday. Have any film hot takes you want to drop here?

The Fugitive is my favorite Harrison Ford movie.

Rank the following social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. Explain your reasoning.

1. Twitter

2. Instagram

3. Facebook

4. Snapchat

I only have two out of the four. I haven’t had a Facebook since college. I’ve thus far been able to live without the ultrasound albums and political hot takes. I don’t understand Snapchat, especially now that Instagram stories appear to be (basically?) the same thing. Instagram is just an outlet for me to post a blurry photo through a Sunday-hangover congratulating a couple on their nuptials. Twitter is the GOAT because it’s an outlet for my stream of consciousness and the base-level of sanity is so low that no one bats an eye at anything I say.

Final score prediction?

Villanova didn’t lose to Seton Hall but it felt like it. More often than not, we come out hot after a “loss.” It won’t be the thrashing that happened earlier this year but I think ‘Nova pulls away. I’ll go with 87-70. Regardless of what happens on Saturday, I’m (reluctantly) excited for Georgetown’s future. My youngest sister is a current senior at Georgetown and has managed to maintain her enthusiasm and energy for her team despite the obvious rough times. I hope she’s rewarded for her loyalty soon.