Villanova Wildcats

No. 4 Villanova-St. Joe's observations: Wildcats cruise to 20th straight Big 5 win

AP Images

No. 4 Villanova-St. Joe's observations: Wildcats cruise to 20th straight Big 5 win


Make it 20.

On Saturday evening at Hagan Arena, No. 4 Villanova rolled to its 20th consecutive Big 5 victory in a style with a 94-53 rout of archrival St. Joe’s.

The Wildcats set a program record with 19 three-pointers in the win, breaking the previous mark of 17 — set vs. Lehigh in 2005 — on an Omari Spellman trey with 3:05 remaining.

Villanova shot a whopping 19 for 35 from three-point range to improve to 8-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Big 5.

St. Joe’s dropped to 4-4 and 0-1 in the Big 5 despite 14 points from senior James Demery.

• The game was decided late in the first half when Villanova drilled five straight three-pointers — two from Phil Booth, two from Spellman and one from Mikal Bridges — to take a 41-27 halftime lead into halftime.

• The Wildcats continued to build their lead in the second half, using a ridiculous 26-2 run to put the game away.

• How do you guard the “Killer B’s” for Villanova? Jalen Brunson (14 points), Booth (17 points) and Bridges (18 points) took turns making huge shots and are rounding into a nucleus that can rival any team in the nation.

• Yes, Villanova only led 29-27 at one point in this game. But just like the Wildcats did three days earlier in another Big 5 win (over Penn), they dialed up the defensive intensity, got really hot from the field and turned the game into a laugher. It’s remarkable, at times, to see how well Villanova mixes discipline with talent to throw off other teams.

• Spellman didn’t start because he was 1.2 pounds over his target weight. But he checked in just a few minutes into the game and made his presence felt with a huge block off the backboard early in the first half. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds — even with all that extra weight.

• After hitting the record-breaking three, Spellman then hit another one with a minute to go that bounced on the rim about five times. Yes, it was that kind of night for Villanova.

• Donte DiVincenzo (eight points) also got a nice shooter’s roll on one of his threes that bounced off the front rim and in. He also found Bridges for a pretty alley-oop in the first half.

• Taylor Funk (13 points) showed why he’s one of the most exciting freshmen in the city with a long three-pointer, a drive and dunk, and dive to save the ball in the first half. It’s clear he’s already becoming a fan favorite at St. Joe’s.

• The Brunson vs. Shavar Newkirk point guard battle should have been worth the price of admission alone. But Newkirk, who scored 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting, still doesn’t look completely look like the player that averaged over 20 points per game after tearing his ACL. Brunson, meanwhile, looks like one of the most complete guards in the nation.

• The Hawks were missing two of their best players in Lamarr Kimble (left foot) and Charlie Brown (left wrist). But both were still into the “Holy War” with Kimble, out for the season, waving his arms in unison with the Hawk mascot before the game and Brown hitting a ridiculous one-handed backwards halfcourt shot to the delight of the fans. It’s hard to say the Hawks could have won the game with those two available but they certainly would have made it far more competitive.

• The St. Joe’s student section was unbelievably loud and packed to the rafters, as it always is for big games. But they might want to rethink that “Overrated” chant directed at ’Nova, especially before the game even begins. Not sure about that “Jay Wright Sits to Pee” rollout either.

• Villanova is halfway to its fifth straight perfect Big 5 season and we’ll find out soon if the Wildcats can pull it off. They host La Salle at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 10 and visit Temple on Dec. 13.

• St. Joe’s has its next Big 5 matchup a week from now at Temple.

Donte DiVincenzo latest Villanova player to declare for NBA draft

USA Today Images

Donte DiVincenzo latest Villanova player to declare for NBA draft

Another Villanova star is moving on ... maybe.

Donte DiVincenzo has declared for the NBA draft but will not hire an agent, meaning he can test the draft waters but will maintain his college eligibility should he chose to return to school. 

The redshirt sophomore was voted the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player after scoring a career-high 31 points in Villanova' national title win over Michigan. 

“Donte has consistently improved in his time at Villanova through dedication and a commitment to our core values,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “His play this season has created a unique opportunity for him to receive feedback from NBA teams in the draft process. We support Donte fully and our staff will work together with him and his family to help him assess the next step in his basketball career.”

DiVincenzo averaged 13.4 points and 3.5 assists while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. His numbers jumped to 15 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists 54.7 percent shooting during the NCAA Tournament.

He must decide by May 30 if he will enter the draft or return to school.

DiVincenzo is the latest Wildcat to declare for the draft, as the mass exodus of stars continues for Villanova.

Mikael Bridges and Jalen Brunson have declared and hired agents, marking the end of their collegiate careers, while redshirt freshman Omari Spellman will also test the waters.

On the bright side, Phil Booth and Eric Paschall announced they will both return for next season.

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

AP Images

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.