Lafayette's three-point shooting concerns Villanova
Villanova coach Jay Wright said he has spent the week trying to figure out to defend Lafayette's three-point shooters, and that's a concern when the top seeded Wildcats take on the Leopards Thursday in their NCAA opener.
PITTSBURGH – The ability of Lafayette to shoot the basketball has concerned Jay Wright all week, and the Villanova coach said Wednesday he has had a tough time watching film and "figuring out how to defend them."
The Wildcats, the No. 1 seed in the NCAA East Regional, will take on the 16th-seeded Leopards on Thursday night at Consol Energy Center. The Leopards (20-12), champion of the Patriot League, have put up dazzling shooting numbers – 48.8 percent from the floor, 41.3 percent from three-point distance, 76.6 percent on free throws.
At his press conference, Wright said he spoke of Big East rival Creighton, one of two teams to make 10 three-point baskets this season against Villanova (32-2), as a way of relating to his players how Lafayette plays.
"I actually think they shoot the ball a lot better than Creighton," he said. "They might not be as big but they shoot it a lot better. I hope we can do a better job of defending the three-point line and still containing them off the dribble. I thought against Creighton we did a decent job on the three-point line but we got blown by off the dribble a lot.
"These guys can stretch a little bit more so it's going to be a little more of a challenge."
Three Lafayette starters – Joey Ptasinski, Seth Hinrichs and Bryce Scott – have connected on 50 or more three-pointers. Hinrichs is a 6-8 forward and capable of drawing the Wildcats' big men, Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston – away from the basket.
Wright said Ochefu, a 6-11 junior, will be a key figure on defense.
"Daniel is a guy that can have a tremendous impact on this game, and he can be a liability," he said. "There are guys that teams like this go after, try to get your big guy away from the basket, and Daniel is going to have a lot of difficult decisions during the game like on the shooter. But he can guard on the perimeter and he can guard inside."
With former star Villanova guard Fran O'Hanlon coaching the Leopards, Wright said "it's going to be a great basketball day for the Villanova family (but) I don't know if it's going to be great for me and Fran going against each other."
While Wright said he hoped Villanova would have a chance to go far as a No. 1 seed, he added he has learned that anything can happen in the NCAA tournament
"I just think we're the kind of team … we can beat anybody but we're not super-talented that we couldn't lose" to Lafayette, he said. "Our closest game of the year this year was against Bucknell, at home, a similar team to Lafayette. But we've got to take it one game at a time."