As it hit local competition, Villanova stopped taking so many three-point shots. Let’s watch that a little bit as the Wildcats get into Big East play, to see if league opponents defend that team in a similar way after Villanova had proved it has all sorts of strong three-pointer shooters and also strong passers around its lineup.
Moving around the city, we’ll look in on some of the players who have proved indispensable to their teams, starting with the most obvious: Ryan Daly on Hawk Hill.
If we have to make this point every single week, we’ll do it. Ryan Daly isn’t a big-time scorer for St. Joseph’s simply because he gets to take all the shots. Ryan Daly is a big-time scorer because he is so difficult to guard. The junior transfer from Delaware knows how to get to spots, with or without the ball, and knows how to maneuver in traffic. When he’s got it going, he might be the toughest player to stop in the Big 5.
Against Villanova on Saturday, Daly missed all five three-pointers he tried, yet he had an efficient 32 points, making 11 of 17 two-pointers and 10 of 11 free throws.
A crazy tale: From unrecruited by the Big 5 to first-team all-Big 5 — that seems a given if he remains healthy. He’s also a legit candidate for Big 5 player of the year, although the struggles of the Hawks will make that difficult. It would not be pretty to think about the Hawks without Daly this season. He is one of only four players in the country in both the top 30 of Division I in percentage of shots taken (for his team) and the top 50 in assist rate.
However, Daly was blanketed Tuesday by the toughest Big 5 blanket, Temple’s Nate Pierre-Louis, held to 2 points in the 108-61 Owls blowout.
For three straight Big 5 games, Villanova won the game but didn’t win it at the three-point line. La Salle, Penn and St. Joe’s were not going to allow that to happen. One area coach watched the St. Joe’s-Villanova game and lauded how the Hawks defended not just the three-point lane, but passing lanes all over the court, too.
If you think about it, Villanova’s greatest strength this season might be having five players on the court who all willingly share the ball. That was a great trait of the NCAA-title teams as well.
Now, it happens that Villanova has the kind of talent that can go to Plan B and get things done. If the marching orders are to stay home and guard your own man, that’s not an easy assignment against a physical player such as Saddiq Bey, the Villanova sophomore who had 19 points against La Salle, 27 against Penn, and 22 against St. Joe’s.
Temple has been getting it done early this season with an aggressive defense. But Saturday’s home loss to Missouri was the kind of game in which the Owls missed Shizz Alston, who could put a game in his pocket late in his career just by playing a calm floor game. Temple doesn’t have that player this season.
The guess here is that freshman Josh Pierre-Louis will end up being that guy in his Temple career, but not yet. Meanwhile, Nate Pierre-Louis and Quinton Rose have been terrific this season, but their games, while different, are both about energy, taking advantage of their top-shelf quickness.
So we’re saying Temple is a mess? Not saying that at all. Despite Saturday’s 19 turnovers, the Owls have the lowest turnover rate in the city, just a bit better than Villanova’s. The Missouri loss doesn’t define the system. So far, it’s been the outlier.
Maybe the first voice you heard sounded an awful lot like Drexel sports information director Mike Tuberosa — for good reason. Tuberosa and Rob Brooks, the Drexel men’s hoops radio team, are the telecast team when the Dragons are on NBC Sports Philadelphia+, a package the school, through its Learfield IMG College partnership, purchased basically because it’s tough to get on local television. They’ll do eight men’s games and Ari Bluestein will do five women’s games, plus some other sports.
Brooks and Tuberosa are knowledgeable pros, behind the scenes for all Phillies telecasts. La Salle fans can argue, but they do not sound like homers.
"We really tried,'' Tuberosa said Monday.
You should watch Penn’s Dev Goodman. The senior guard stays calm, doesn’t take any plays off, and knows how to turn on his afterburners and get to the rim when needed. Not a star, but a key piece to a good team.
In Penn’s last two games, against Villanova and Long Beach State, Goodman had 12 assists and 3 turnovers overall, scored 16 points in each and took on important defensive assignments.
Cam Wynter is close to that important over on Market Street. The Drexel sophomore is not a pure shooter, especially when getting so much defensive attention. But Wynter is more than a primary ballhandler for the Dragons. He is the ballhandler for the Dragons, who are 105th among 353 Division I teams in effective field-goal percentage — so pretty good, top third. They are 68th in three-point percentage, and 60th in defending the three. Real good. All that suggests an efficient offense.
Not so fast. The Dragons are 339th in turnover ratio, which goes a long way toward explaining the 4-5 record against D-I opponents, especially when Drexel is 346th in steal percentage, which means the Dragons are getting fewer easy ones going the other way.
La Salle senior Saul Phiri has made 13 out of 24 three-pointers over the last five games. His 47.4% rate is 74th nationally among players playing at least 40% of available minutes, according to KenPom.com. The only City 6 player with a higher percentage is Villanova’s Cole Swider, just a tick higher at 47.5%.