VUSports Exclusive from Spain: Cats Win Game Two

VUSports Spain correspondent, Dave Rudini made it to Madrid in time to catch much of Game Two of Villanova's "tour of Spain". In this piece, he provides 'Nova Nation members with some fabulous insight.

Sometimes it doesn’t go perfect… This  VUSports.com reporter was not alerted that the venue for Games #2 and #3 was moved from a college in Madrid to the training facility of Real Madrid.   Due to this, I missed the first half of the game – so my report is based on the second half of the game and the box score – which was consistent for the most part in what I observed in the second half.  First off, the training facility of Real Madrid was spectacular and I look forward to going back there on Tuesday and spending some time there.  Spanish clubs seem to have multiple sports as part of their club and Real Madrid certainly has one of the world’s most famous soccer clubs – with the sports most famous player – Cristiano Ronaldo (Messi fans can argue in a different VUSports message board!).  They also have a very significant basketball club with the game being held at their training facility – a Davis Center on steroids.  What an amazing complex – 11 pristine soccer pitches – and a very top notch basketball training center.  The security at the complex is amazing – we went through three security checks on our way to the facility.  Some of the Real Madrid footballers live on the site and all training happens there.  So – on to the basketball.
Some general thoughts:
A.      In speaking with someone close to the program, he said to me “We became a legit threat to repeat or threaten to repeat when Josh Hart decided to return for his senior year”.  Today’s game amplified that comment.
B.      The team we played was much better than the one we played in Barcelona.  They were good.  They shot the ball really well – made some tough 3’s – and they had legit post guys and they really knew how to play.
C.      One big advantage we have is that we are a team that has played together – in some form – for many years.  These guys are an “all star” team that comes together to play us and they don’t play together typically.
D.      The other big advantage is Jay!  He has become a truly elite, innovative coach.  Villanova is SOOOOO fortunate to have him.  I believe he is underappreciated and is now coming into his own on what could be a tremendous run nationally.
E.       We were without three important pieces – Omari, Darryl, Dante – and we just really didn’t miss a beat.  We had multiple interesting lineups with one being Bridges, Hart, Kris, Paschall and Delaney – Forward U!
F.       They play with a  24 second clock which is great practice for our guy.  We move the ball – we drive and kick – but sometimes at the end of the clock the guy with the ball just has to make a play.  We have a lot of guys that can do that.  This is good practice.
G.     On Omari – at halftime while the teams were in the locker room, Omari took off his warmups and worked out on the court with Kyle.  I am not to be confused with Coach Shack, but Omari looks to be in fantastic shape.  I would not by any stretch say that he looks out of shape – quite the opposite.  He was drilling 15 foot turnaround after 15 foot turnaround with one of the walk-on’s defending him and Kyle feeding him in the post.
H.      We again looked every bit a national championship contender.  The team we played was a Creighton type team.  Our combination of talented and disciplined offensive performance with our relentless defensive and rebounding approach
On to the players:
1.       Jalen’s performance was very consistent with his effort in Barcelona.  Shot the ball very well.  Tough, willing defender.  Drives and creates well.  Will have a loose turnover or two – but this sophomore continues to develop and definitely is a winning PG… 14 points and 4 dimes for Jalen.
2.       Phil was solid if not spectacular.  Didn’t shoot it well, but is just a talented, winning 2G.  Plays hard, makes shots, defends, can handle and give us quality minutes functioning as a 1.  9 points, 4 assists for the junior.
3.       Josh – was a man among boys – though Spain had men out there.  Skying for traffic rebounds – contesting shots – Josh was everywhere.  Shooting the three with much confidence.  Strong drives to the cup and the mid-range game that made him a star last year.  He totally took over for Villanova when the lead was challenged in the second half.   Has improved as an athlete – has improved his handle.  Just a physical force on the floor.  Josh finished
4.       Mikal continues to show more of his game.  Caught a spectacular alley-oop from Jalen.  Defensively, Mikal was all over the passing lanes.  The difference is that he now is a legit threat in the half-court as not only a catch and shoot guy, but a guy with a reliable mid-range game driven by an improved handle.   Very, very active on both ends of the floor.  16 points for the red-shirt sophomore.
5.       Eric was again -very productive/active.  He rebounded with great energy.  Had two thunderous dunks.  When he is down low, he is a force with his athleticism.  Missed the three 3’s he took.  As he continues to find his role and get back in the swing of playing competitively, he will be an outstanding
6.       Kris continued his uneven play.  I guess when you hit the most famous shot of all time in college basketball – you have a right to be hung over from all the attention.  Coming out of Spain, I would think that one of this Spain tour, one of the staffs priorities will be to really get Kris going.  He had a very respectable 10 pts and 9 rebounds – many of them might have been in the first half as I wasn’t there for that.  We all certainly believe that Kris will be there when the lights go on..
7.       Tim Delaney really competed today.  He has very surprising foot-speed for a guy his size who has been through the operations he has.  It didn’t show in the box, but he was very active defensively and on the glass – got his hands on many boards given his PT, but had some bad luck with balls tipping off his hands.  He can give us minutes this year..
8.       Dylan was a bad match-up today as their bigs were good and could play away from the basket which is a problem for Dylan defensively.   He will be a good player for us down the road – a legit center like Daniel.
All in all a good effort by the Cats.  A tremendous effort by Josh Hart.  He will be a legit BE POY and AA candidate.  The Cats return to the court on Tuesday to wrap up the trip, with lots of learning and great experiences!

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