No. 1 Villanova is a direct result of consistency
After just one month of the college basketball season, we already need a breather before analyzing the rollercoaster that has been on display. With one of the biggest years of top ranked teams stumbling early, the Villanova Wildcats have remained unblemished, and have done so the only way they know how.
Just to recap the early insanity, lets start with “Battle for Atlantis” a few weeks back. This is where we first saw an athletically dominant Arizona team show they have some growing pains to still go through before becoming a likely National Championship contender in March. We watched Kansas get outclassed by a Washington team, who was preseason number ten in the Pac12. Lastly, the almighty Duke Blue Devils traveled to Boston College this week, and were punked by an ACC team who most likely could finish in the middle to bottom of the conference.
One can make a clear case that things will only get better throughout the season for all three programs. Yet among the chaos, we are left with a Villanova team that doesn’t need a few months to find their rhythm. The Wildcats are the undeniable top team in the nation, and it should come as no surprise.
After all, Villanova is the only major power left in college basketball that still uses an organic, grassroots style of bringing up players. In an age of freshmen filled super teams, head coach Jay Wright has tapped into the beauty of consistency, which has allowed him to stay on top each year.
Schools like Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and UNC battle every summer for who can land the most five star recruits that will be drafted a year later. Alternatively, Wright is more concerned with consistency, asking questions such as, “Are my returning sophomores getting up enough shots everyday?” Or, “How is my junior point guard progressing?”
Its this kind of commitment that has point guard Jalen Brunson playing as good as any floor general in the land, and allowing Villanova to once again be a leader in assist to turnover ratios.
Junior guard Mikal Bridges has also emerged as a star in this model, leading the team with 19 points per game. He is playing as efficient as anyone in the country, despite many not seeing his potential as a freshman. Fortunately for Wildcat faithful, Jay Wright and his coaching staff did.
These are just a few examples of the many junior and senior sensations Villanova has groomed over the last decade, making their track record all the more impressive.
In Villanova’s mind, the path to winning is simple. Other major powers will work all winter to have their underclassmen as ready for tournament play as possible. The Wildcats have already accomplished this hurdle the prior year.
The Villanova model, in turn, creates matchup’s in which the best 19 year olds in the country go toe to toe with some of best and experienced upper classmen. At the end of the day, when your in a tie game with under 10 minutes to go, ask yourself who you would rely on? On one side, a diaper dandy 19 year old facing off against a junior/senior led point guard on the other. I know who I am putting my money on..
Moral of the story: Experience plus consistency equals National Championships.