Villanova Wildcats

No. 1 Villanova easily beats Jay Wright's former team

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No. 1 Villanova easily beats Jay Wright's former team

BOX SCORE 

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- As Jay Wright recalled, the proposal was made by Ed Manetta.

Essentially, the question was: Would the head coach of the Villanova Wildcats want to return to his Long Island roots by bringing his team to the Nassau Coliseum for a game?

It was an offer he could not pass up.

"I said, `Yeah, it's perfect.' And I said, `Could we play Hofstra?'" Wright said after No. 1 Villanova remained unbeaten with a 95-71 rout of the Pride on Friday night at the Nassau Coliseum.

Wright, now in his 17th season at Villanova, compiled a 122-85 record in seven seasons at Hofstra, and still retains ties to the Long Island school.

"Hofstra worked (its) schedule so we can play this game," said Wright, who repeatedly emphasized that he would not bring Villanova to play Hofstra just to satisfy his ego. "I wouldn't want Villanova people to ever think I would take this game -- Villanova is not my team. It's not my school. I just work for them. It's not my right to take them to a place I love. So it worked out for me and I'm thrilled we were able to do it."

What he saw on the court was also relatively pleasing to him. Mikal Bridges scored 20 points and was one of five players in double figures for Villanova (12-0).

Omari Spellman had 19 points in 31 minutes, Phil Booth finished with 17, Donte DiVincenzo had 16 and Jalen Brunson added 14 points.

The win marked the fifth time this season that Villanova has scored at least 90 points in a game. The Wildcats' season high for points scored is 113 on Nov. 14 against Nicholls State.

"I feel good. I feel like we can get a lot better. I think our guys understand that. This was a good win against a good team," Wright said. "We know we can get better and (the players) know we can get better."

Justin Wright-Foreman had 25 points for the Pride (7-5), who have lost two straight. Rokas Gustys added 11.

"We're disappointed," Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said. "You can't make mistakes against this team."

The Wildcats led 52-31 at halftime after Booth drilled a buzzer-beating 3 from 25 feet.

Villanova made 18 of 35 shots in the half, including 8 of 18 from 3-point range.

"That one possession was way more valuable than any practice," Wright said. "Phil was the third option."

The Wildcats began the second half by knocking down 5 of 8 shots in the first 4:32 and three of the five field goals were 3s.

After Villanova pushed its lead to 69-43 on Bridges' layup, Hofstra scored the next seven points, highlighted by Hunter Sabety's putback dunk of a missed dunk by Wright-Foreman.

Later, Eli Pemberton followed Jalen Ray's missed 3 with a putback jam of his own to cut the deficit to 82-62. From that point, though, Villanova went on a 13-9 run to end the game.

"Hofstra is a tough team to play," Wright said. "Scrappy. Joe has a great way to prepare for you. They prepare. They know all of your cuts. They change up their defenses. You can't look good.

"I think that's why that team, when they get to their league, is going to have a chance to win it."

The Wildcats outscored Hofstra 43-40 in the second half, and finished the game having made 47.9 percent of its shots from the field (34 of 71) and 47.1 percent of its 3s (16 of 34).

"The way they shoot the ball," Wright-Foreman said in response to a question about what stood out about Villanova. "Overall, a great team."

Big Picture
Hofstra: The Pride's early season has been a study in momentum, both positive and negative. Hofstra won its first three games before dropping three straight. The Pride, then, won four in a row before losing their last two.

Villanova: Among the reasons the Wildcats have been a perennial NCAA Tournament team during the Jay Wright Era has been their success in early season, non-conference play. Villanova improved to 61-3 in non-conference play dating to the 2013-14 season.

Notable
Hofstra: The Pride fell to 0-5 all-time against the Wildcats. Friday night's game was the first between the programs since Dec. 27, 1997, when the Pride - then coached by Wright - dropped an 86-74 decision.

Villanova: Despite the game taking place 132 miles northeast of Philadelphia in Uniondale, Villanova was the home team.

Up Next
Hofstra: Begins Colonial Athletic Association play Saturday at William & Mary.

Villanova: Tips off Big East play Wednesday night at DePaul.

Omari Spellman enters name in draft, but doesn't hire agent

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Omari Spellman enters name in draft, but doesn't hire agent

Villanova might be losing yet another star player. 

This time, redshirt freshman Omari Spellman is entering his name for the 2018 NBA draft process. But unlike Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, Spellman won’t hire an agent. That’s an important distinction. 

Basically, this will allow Spellman to test the waters of the draft with the option of pulling his name and returning to Villanova for another season. He would need to withdraw from the draft by May 30 to maintain his eligibility. 

“Omari’s intelligence and willingness to be coached allowed him to make great strides last season,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “His development as a complete Villanova Basketball player was instrumental to our team’s success. We look forward to working together with Omari and his family in the coming weeks as they go through the process of evaluating the next step in his basketball career.”

During the 2017-18 season, Spellman was the Big East and Big 5 Rookie of the Year. He started all but one game during the season, averaging 10.9 points and 8.0 rebounds. He also led the Wildcats with 59 blocked shots. In addition to his big-man skills — Spellman is 6-9, 245 — he also hit over 43 percent of his shots from three. 

While we’ve heard from Spellman, Brunson and Bridges, still no word from Donte DiVincenzo or Eric Paschall about their future. The deadline for early entry to the draft is at 11:59 p.m. on April 22.

Mikal Bridges to enter NBA draft

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Mikal Bridges to enter NBA draft

Villanova star swingman Mikal Bridges will bypass his senior season and enter the NBA draft, the redshirt junior told ESPN Tuesday morning.

Bridges, who stands at 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, will likely be a lottery pick. He'll intrigue NBA teams as a three-and-D guy who can defend multiple positions.

"My success has been because of a lot of hard work and a lot of patience," Bridges said. "My first year in college, that was the longest time I ever sat out. Villanova and the coaches helped me to build a really strong work ethic. I didn't have as much of an ethic my freshman year, but I was pushed a lot by my coaches and that helped get me to become the player that I am."

He's expected to go around pick No. 10. That should intrigue Sixers fans since the Lakers' pick — which should finally convey this season — is likely to land around there. We outlined how Bridges would be a perfect fit alongside Joel Embiid and company last week (see story).

Along with being crowned as a national champion, Bridges was awarded the Julius Erving Award as the nation's top small forward. He was also named third team All-American and first team All-Big East.

“Mikal has been an exemplary student-athlete during his four years with us at Villanova,” Jay Wright said in a statement. “His work ethic and willingness to accept coaching have helped him grow steadily in his time here. He’s a great teammate and leader. I’m confident he will enjoy a very successful professional career.”

Bridges averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds and shot 44 percent from three during his junior season. He'll receive his degree in May.