Villanova’s offense needs more balance to be an elite team

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In the game’s opening nine minutes against Syracuse, Villanova looked like one of the nation’s elite teams as they jumped out to a 25-7 lead in the Carrier Dome and silenced the crowd early.

The Wildcats started 5-for-7 from behind the three-point line as they moved the ball quickly around the perimeter and found open players for jumpers.

Villanova was aggressive and assertive on both ends.

But reality quickly set in for the Wildcats as the Orange made adjustments in their zone. A mediocre-shooting Villanova team — they’re shooting 32 percent from the three-point line on the season; and they shoot a lot of threes — missed their next six three-pointers and began rushing shots and Syracuse’s zone took over as the Orange went on a 71-37 run to close out the game for the 78-62 victory.

Things began to unravel for Villanova when the perimeter shots stopped falling.

Spacing became an issue for the Wildcats towards the middle of the first half as they attempted to throw the ball around the perimeter and Villanova settled for jumper-after-jumper. It almost seemed like for minutes at a time, Villanova wouldn’t work the ball inside their own three-point line during their offensive possessions.

Look at this photo of Villanova’s floor spacing captured by CBT’s own Rob Dauster:

That kind of floor spacing might work in an intermediate men’s league — or if Steph Curry is your floor spacer — but with the kind of length, lateral quickness and athleticism that Syracuse brings with their zone, Villanova needed to do a better job of being patient and working the ball in the high post to find better looks.

If Villanova is going to beat long and athletic teams, their offensive attack has to be more patient and seek out better shots.

Working the ball into the high post would be a big step in that equation. James Bell played well offensively for Villanova — going for 25 points before fouling out — but Nova’s other guards did a poor job of working the ball inside, or even pass faking to move the Syracuse zone from side-to-side to create driving or passing lanes. The Wildcat starters around Bell on offense — Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard, JayVaughn Pinkston, Daniel Ochefu — combined for only four field goals as they seemed to feel the affects of Syracuse’s zone as their halfcourt offense crawled to a halt.

Villanova ended up shooting 10-for-31 from the three-point line for the game against Syracuse — which, at 32 percent, matches their season average

Villanova is going to shoot a lot of three-pointers —  at 45 percent of their attempts coming from there this season that should be a continuing trend — but they have to make sure they’re smart about it.

The Wildcats shot their season average from three-point range and lost by 16 to a superior team, but there is plenty of time to refine their approach before facing another opponent like Syracuse. Thankfully, there aren’t a lot of teams like Syracuse for Villanova to face, but can they strike more balance in their offensive approach? It might be the only way the Wildcats reach their full potential.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.