Nov. 12, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats (1-0 overall, 0-0 BIG EAST) received a test in their season opener against Lafayette and head coach Jay Wright expects more of the same on Wednesday night when Mount St. Mary's (0-1 overall, 0-0 Northeast Conference) journeys north from Maryland to the Pavilion.
"They have three very experienced guards - two of them are fifth year seniors," notes Wright. "(Sam) Prescott, (Julian) Norfleet, and (Rashad) Whack can take over a game. Their big guy, (Kristijan) Krajina is really tough inside. It's going to be a tough game."
Like Lafayette, the Mountaineers feature skilled long range shooters in their lineup. But the methodology for how they create offense offers a marked contrast to the Leopards' patient approach.
"They can really shoot threes but they get them in a different way than Lafayette does," states Wright. "These guys run quick hitters and run the floor. They're more athletic and quicker as a team."
This will be the first meeting between the two schools on the hardwood in nearly 15 years. That contest took place on Thanksgiving weekend 1998 and the `Cats, fresh from capturing the Top of the World Classic earlier in the same week, staved off the Mountaineers for a 71-68 victory.
In its season opener, the Mount dropped a 77-62 decision at West Virginia.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, fell behind 38-32 early in the second half before rallying to pull away to a 75-59 win over Lafayette before the 138th straight regular season sellout at the Pavilion. Villanova leaned on three of its more experienced players in James Bell (24 points), JayVaughn Pinkston (22 points), and Darrun Hilliard (13 points) to help expand the lead in the late going.
In his post-game remarks, Wright mentioned the work of Hilliard, who was a significant factor despite draining only 1-of-7 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc.
"As you get to be a junior you understand that it's not just about making shots," says Wright. "Darrun did so many things (against Lafayette) - rebounding, defense, seven assists. I do expect that from him.
"You want everybody to do that but especially the juniors and seniors. That's where we really look to Darrun, JayVaughn, Tony (Chennault) and James Bell."
The contest will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network with Tom McCarthy and former Villanova head coach Steve Lappas handling the call. Ryan Fannon and Whitey Rigsby will broadcast live from courtside on 1210 WPHT Radio. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.