The National Champions Villanova Wildcats officially began their title defense season today, August 1, at the Summer Jam 2016.
The Pavilion was lively with a crowd of more than 2,000 people, all in a joyous and festive summer attitude. Many in the crowd had been there to take part in the Summer Jam activities for children and big kids. Most were there to take a quick look at the defending champions.
The practice grand finale was a traditional Blue vs White game (although the team in White seemed to be more on the Gray side).
The game was won by the Blue Team by a score of 18-16.
The team consists of 11 scholarship players plus two walk-ons.
Two players are out of action: Tim Delaney is pretty much day to day and will be making the upcoming trip to Spain; while Darryl Reynolds will sit the trip out as he took an errant Josh Hart elbow in his rib cage (sternum to be exact) and flying would be a bit too risky but he should recover and be ready to go shortly after the trip.
The team appears to be the Walking Wounded: every player, except Freshman Painter and Freshman Walk-On Leibig, wears one or two braces on their knees.
The two team were broken down as follows:
Spellman led all scorers with seven points; he was very active as he also grabbed four rebounds and dove on the floor after loose balls at least three times. He looks like a guy who has been playing Villanova Basketball for a while. He scored inside a couple of times, once from medium range, added one free throw and barely missed his lone trey attempt.
Unfortunately after the game Villanova announced that although Spellman will make the Spanish trip and will practice with the team, he will not be allowed to play as Villanova and the NCAA are reviewing his certification eligibility to compete in games.
It’s a bit of a shame as the young man was fairly impressive in his first public appearance in a Villanova uniform.
Painter was also quite impressive in his Villanova debut. He played hard and showed to be very aggressive in the paint and going after the glass. He had one very nice score on a put back of his own miss on a pretty move to the basket. As Spellman was going for a power dunk, Painter went hard at it trying to block it, he but committed the foul but prevented the dunk. He also grabbed a tough rebound in a crowd and then made a nice pass to a wide open Hart who hit a trey.
Jenkins seems to be the crowd favorite, every time he touched the ball, the crowd buzzed. He had a couple of points tonight.
Bridges was very active rebounding well and scoring four points.
Di Vincenzo was 1 of 2 from trey; he missed a trey toward the end that might have won the game. Donte was very active defensively and had two pretty steals.
Paschall had a very quite game. This is the first time of several practices that I have seen him, that he did not dominate the paint or shoot well.
Booth had a nice game and seemed very bouncy, perhaps an indication that he may be at full strength. He had one very nice finish to the basket.
Brunson played strictly the one and had one real nice assist.
Leibig is a 6’4” freshman walk-on from nearby Haverford. He was forced into action due the fact that Reynolds and Delaney were both unavailable. He hustled and played tough D.
Hart led his team to victory with timely scores and good D. One play in particular stood out: a defensive block on Di Vincenzo that was both pretty and effective.
The team will practice tomorrow and then depart for Spain the following day.