Updated: Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 1:02 PM
Inside the city Villanova
With starting guard Phil Booth out for the foreseeable future, everyone in the top-ranked Wildcats’ current seven-man rotation is contributing to picking up the 30 lost minutes that Booth had been averaging in Big East play.
In Sunday’s win over Marquette, Donte DiVincenzo, who started in Booth’s place, played 32 minutes, or about four more than his average in the conference. Freshman Collin Gillespie logged 19 minutes, eight more than his average. And on it went – Mikal Bridges 38 (average: 32) and Omari Spellman 29 (average: 25), with Jalen Brunson and Eric Paschall both two over their averages of 32 and 31, respectively.
At some point, Jay Wright will have a plan to distribute the minutes but he conceded on Sunday that it wasn’t that way.
“I’m going to tell you honestly: We were going by the seat of our pants just trying to survive and get a feel for what we could do,” he said.
Wright said the problem Sunday with Marquette wasn’t “as much the numbers, but you’ve got to have a lot of perimeter guys to be able to guard them, and we were short on them.”
Booth is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his right hand.
Thursday vs. Creighton (Wells Fargo Center), 6:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
Sunday vs. Seton Hall (WFC), noon (Fox29)
The Owls’ 28-point win over visiting Connecticut on Sunday was their largest margin of victory this season, and their first double-digit win since defeating South Carolina, 76-60, at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 30.
The Owls have had very few easy games. Entering the UConn game, they had the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country. Ten of their games have been decided by five or fewer points, and Temple is 5-5 in those games.
Coach Fran Dunphy acknowledged that a tough schedule can wear on a team.
“It does because you don’t have these opportunities to play some of the young kids and get some of the mistakes out of them,” he said after the 85-57 win over UConn. “It is a difficult schedule, some of it is we play in the Big Five – that is four games others would have four home games and get to play teams that are not as strong.”
Still, Dunphy says his team will benefit from the tough schedule.
“We have a phenomenal schedule,” Dunphy said.
It won’t get easier with No. 16 Wichita State visiting the Liacouras Center on Thursday.
Thursday vs. Wichita State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sunday at Tulane, 3 p.m. (ESPNNews)
It’s nothing but Ivy League competition for the Quakers from here on, 11 games that will determine whether they can finish in the top four and qualify for the league’s second annual postseason tournament on their home court.
“I wrote on our board (Monday) in practice, ‘This is Day 1,’ ” coach Steve Donahue said. “Everything’s new. Everything from here on out is Ivy.
“We have a unique league in the sense that it’s even, it’s round-robin, top four teams make it. This is Day 1 of the next 41 until Selection Sunday, and we’re going to try to get better. It’s a really good league. Anyone can beat us, and I think we have the ability to beat anyone at the same time.”
After splitting a pair of Big Five contests on back-to-back Saturdays against Temple and St. Joseph’s, the Quakers re-enter Ivy play with a 3-0 mark, a half-game behind Harvard (4-0). Their two games this week will mark their eighth and ninth in a row at home, concluding a stretch of nearly two months in which they did not play a road game.
“We haven’t been away from home, so we’ve been able to stay in the gym and work with our guys and then play two really good Big Five games,” Donahue said. “I think that prepared us for the rest of the Ivy.”
Friday vs. Brown, 7 p.m.
Saturday vs. Yale, 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)
The Explorers are wrapping up nearly a week off since their 87-72 win over Massachusetts on Jan. 24 in one of their most complete games of the season.
Junior guard Pookie Powell, their second-leading scorer with an 18.6-point average, sat out his first game of the season that night with a hamstring injury. He is a game-time decision for Wednesday at Davidson.
Even though his team is 3-5 and tied for 10th in the balanced 14-team Atlantic Ten, coach John Giannini feels the Explorers can make some noise.
“You can’t say somebody has a good team until they win consistently, but we are so close,” he said. “We’ve done it without B.J. and without Pookie, and I really feel we have a chance to be good. I know we do.”
Giannini was referring to B.J. Johnson, who missed five of six games with an ankle injury, but has averaged 21.3 points in the three games since his return, two of which the Explorers won.
Wednesday at Davidson, 7 p.m.
Saturday vs. St Joseph’s 4 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
With their sweep of Elon and Northeastern at home during the past week, the Dragons already have matched their win total from last year, when they finished 9-23.
With wins over the College of Charleston and Northeastern, Drexel has defeated two of the three teams – William & Mary is the other – currently tied for the CAA lead. When the Dragons host James Madison on Thursday, they will attempt to match their season-high winning streak of three.
The Dragons have been riding the hot hand of Tramaine Isabell, a 6-foot-1 junior transfer from Missouri who was named CAA co-player of the week. He scored 61 points in last week’s two wins and is the second-leading scorer in the CAA with a 19.8 average.
In the Dragons’ 83-79 win over Elon, he shot 7 for 11 from three-point range and scored a career-high 40 points.
“I have put a lot of time working on my shot,” he said.
Thursday vs. James Madison, 7 p.m.
Saturday at William & Mary, 4 p.m.
After topping 70 points in 14 of their first 17 games, the Hawks have been having problems putting the ball in the basket lately, and that worries coach Phil Martelli.
In its last three games, St. Joseph’s has scored 68, 67 and 56 points, shooting 35.5 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from three-point range.
“I’m concerned about offense, and I haven’t been concerned about offense all year,” Martelli said. “We don’t shoot a great percentage, but we get so many shots that we’ve been able to get comfortably up in the 70s. But now it’s a concern.”
The Hawks averaged a little more than 69 points last season, and Martelli decided he wanted to play a style in which points wouldn’t be so difficult to come by.
“We went all-in on skill, we went all-in on playing a little bit smaller, and this last week has me a little bit worried,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but we’ve got to get our mojo back on offense.”
Wednesday vs. St. Louis, 7 p.m.
Saturday at La Salle, 4 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)