Jay Wright offered a pair of succinct sentences to describe the effects of injuries and illness to two of Villanova’s big men.
“We’re short up front,” he said Monday at the Wildcats’ media day at Finneran Pavilion. “”We’re short-handed, and we’re short.”
Villanova already has lost fifth-year senior Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, a 6-foot-9 forward, who will sit out the season after undergoing four surgeries on his lower legs in the last five years. Another 6-9 forward, freshman Nnanna Njoku, suffered a concussion early in the preseason and now is battling dehydration, Wright said.
“He’s been out for a long time,” Wright said of Njoku. “We need to get him back. That’s going to be an area we’re going to have to make up for until Nnanna can come along.”
Wright said the lack of size showed itself prominently in the two closed scrimmages Villanova competed in against Rutgers and Duke.
“We’re going to have to be more aggressive defensively,” he said. “We’re going to have to be tougher to rebound, we have to rebound as a team. We’re not going to do it with just size. So we’ve been there before. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.”
The Wildcats, ranked No. 4 in the preseason, opens their season Nov. 9 against Mount St. Mary’s at Finneran Pavilion.
Redshirt sophomore Eric Dixon, who is 6-8 and 255 pounds, will see action at center. He impressed his coach with 12 rebounds in the Duke scrimmage. Another candidate for playing time at center is Trey Patterson, a 6-9 freshman who was on the roster for the second semester last season.
“He’s learning; he’s a freshman,” Wright said of Patterson. “We certainly didn’t recruit him for that spot, but he’s doing a good job. His development and Nnanna’s development is going to be important to our depth up front. We need that next guy, and Nnanna and Trey need to provide that for us.”
Fifth-year senior guard Caleb Daniels, a returning starter who averaged 9.6 points last season, is back practicing after missing extended time with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by COVID-19. Daniels came down with the coronavirus last December, leading to a four-week pause between games.
Junior guard Bryan Antoine, who has had problems the last two seasons with his right shoulder, continues to be sidelined with a right knee injury. He took to the court Monday for the first time to shoot stand-still shots, but Wright said he’ll probably miss at least two more weeks before he can increase his activity.