BIGS NEED TO STEP UP FOR VILLANOVA TO MAKE THE FINAL FOUR

By Annie Ross

As Villanova’s football team piles up victories like yesterday’s rout of Maine to climb in the FCS standings, the Cats’ basketball team prepares to start practice.

Most experts expect Jay Wright (photo above) to be coaching another Top 10 team this year — some rank Nova as high as 5 — so what’s the big deal if its big men are a problem?

It’s no secret that Wright runs a guard-heavy offense but last year’s often became too one-dimensional. Villanova took almost 45 percent of its field goal attempts from three-point range last year, making 35.6 percent.

That could be a real problem, such as when they made just 4-of-19 in a loss to Seton Hall at the Big East tournament that knocked them out of the running for a No. 1 seed or when they shot less than 28 percent in the NCAA tournament, getting bounced by eventual champion Connecticut in the third round.

Even with leading scorer James Bell having graduated, the Wildcats’ best offensive options will again come from the backcourt: Darrun Hilliard II and Ryan Arcidiacono, with Josh Hart likely assuming a bigger role as a sophomore.

JayVaughn Pinkston is a forward capable of producing in the paint, but he also took 31 threes last season and is not going to make defenses focus their attention on the interior.

At 6-11, Daniel Ochefu could do that – but only if he makes serious strides in the preseason. He has averaged just 5.6 points and taken 3.3 field goal attempts per game during his first two seasons, but as a junior he figures to have an expanded role.

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