Villanova players buy into Wright's system
One reason Villanova is ranked No. 6 nationally is that the Wildcats have stayed relatively healthy. Also, the players have bought into their roles.
Eight of the nine players in coach Jay Wright's rotation have not missed a game in 'Nova's 15-1 start. No one plays major minutes. The leader is sophomore guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who averages 30.9.
All nine rotation players are averaging 11 or more minutes.
"Depth can be a positive and a negative," Wright said. "When you have depth and guys at the end of that bench aren't happy when they go in the game, and if they aren't playing enthusiastically, it can be a problem."
That hasn't been a problem for Villanova. Wright says one of the keys has been the leadership of senior guard Tony Chennault, who has made one start and is averaging 16 minutes.
"It starts with Tony Chennault, who is a senior coming off the bench and who has a tremendous attitude," Wright said. "So every kid below him, junior, sophomore, and freshman, says, 'Hey, that is the way we do it and I will do it that way.' "
Drexel could stake a claim as the most banged-up of the City Six teams. The Dragons have lost Damion Lee (knee) for the season. Tavon Allen (ankle), Dartaye Ruffin (calf), and Kazembe Abif (knee) missed Tuesday's game with Towson.
"I've never been depleted like this in terms of injuries," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said.
Drexel entered Tuesday's game averaging just 9.1 turnovers per game, which ranked fourth in Division I. In a 66-62 loss to No. 1 Arizona, the Dragons committed only five turnovers.
Flint credits his senior backcourt of point guard Frantz Massenat and guard Chris Fouch, who take care of the ball.
"We have older guards and they have really done a good job," Flint said.
Kanacevic an iron man
For the first time in his career, St. Joseph's senior forward Halil Kanacevic played the entire 40 minutes in a regulation game. Then he did it again.
This was necessitated by injuries to forwards Ronald Roberts Jr. and Isaiah Miles, who both missed Saturday's 84-80 victory at George Mason.
Kanacevic also played all 40 minutes in last week's 66-62 win at No. 16 Massachusetts. In the two games, he averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds.
"I am not old, I am 22 years old and should be able to play these minutes," Kanacevic said. "I love playing, so I don't have a problem. If I am a little tired the next day, who cares?"
Guard Langston Galloway played all but one minute in the last two games. Freshman forward DeAndre' Bembry played 76 of 80 minutes.
Roberts is day-to-day with a back injury, and Miles (concussion) is out for Wednesday's game with Duquesne.
Kanacevic, who is averaging 10.7 points and 8.7 rebounds, said he was looking to provide more offense.
"This is probably the first time in my career I have looked to score," Kanacevic said. "With those guys out, everybody is trying to pick up the pieces."
La Salle center Steve Zack suffered a sprained left foot last March 2 and missed the Explorers' run to the Sweet 16. The 6-foot-11 junior has come back strong this season, averaging close to a double-double at 9.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
"It was a big motivation for me to come back this year after the injury," Zack said.
Zack said he goes into each game with a simple goal.
"My goal is to be consistent, get 10-15 rebounds a game," he said. "If you get the rebounds, the points will come."
Penn on rebound?
Penn hopes that its 77-74 victory over Princeton on Saturday can help turn around its season.
Penn was 2-10 during its nonleague schedule but lost four of those games by five or fewer points. Another loss went into overtime.
"It was probably one of the best feelings I had as a player for Penn," said senior forward Fran Dougherty, an Archbishop Wood graduate who had 17 points and 12 rebounds against Princeton. He was named Ivy League player of the week. "We had a tough preseason, and to start the Ivy League that way was really uplifting for our team and brought us new life."
Penn benefited from the return of center Darien Nelson-Henry, who had 17 points and eight rebounds against Princeton after missing four games because of a concussion.
Owls' tough road
Temple's transition to the American Athletic Conference has not been a smooth one. The conference includes three teams that are ranked in the top 20: No. 17 Memphis, No. 18 Louisville, and No. 19 Cincinnati.
Throw in Connecticut along with Houston and Larry Brown's Southern Methodist team, and it's a difficult schedule for the Owls, who are 5-10 after Tuesday's loss at Cincinnati.
"It is a very competitive league," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "We had our chances to win a couple of games but haven't gotten it done."
Temple lost its first four AAC games by an average of six points.
Sophomore Daniel Dingle (13.6 ppg.) is likely out for the season after arthroscopic surgery on his knee.