It’s no secret that Villanova coach Jay Wright has asked much of freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, having him run the point game after game, now against tougher opponents in the Big East Conference.
The 6-foot-3 rookie from Langhorne and Neshaminy High School struggled for the second straight game Wednesday night as the Wildcats went ice cold in the final 5-plus minutes and lost 58-43 to Pittsburgh at the Pavilion.
Arcidiacono connected on only 2 of 10 attempts from the field overall, and made just 1 of his 7 tries from three-point range, scoring five points while turning the ball over six times. Counting the Wildcats’ loss last Saturday to Syracuse, he has 12 points and 12 turnovers in his last two games.
Wright said he is not worried about Arcidiacono’s confidence but admits it’s been tough for him.
“I think I’ve said this a couple of times – we’ve had a lot of freshman point guards start here but they’ve all had All-Americans on either side of them,” he said. “He’s got two young guys on either side of him and there’s a lot of pressure on him.”
Referring to sophomores Darrun Hilliard and Achraf Yacoubou, Wright added, “As Darrun keeps getting better and Ash keeps getting better and James Bell, even though he’s a junior, he’s not played a lot here because of injury … as everybody gets better, I think he’s going to get a lot better. He’s got a lot on his shoulders right now. The kind of kid he is, I don’t worry about his confidence.”
Arcidiacono’s lone three provided Villanova with its final points of the first half and gave his team a 23-22 lead. His other basket, an elbow jumper with 15:52 to play, enabled the Wildcats to take their largest lead of the game at 32-25.
Arcidiacono, who opened ‘Nova’s Big East season on Jan. 2 with a 32-point explosion that included seven three-point baskets against St. John’s, is the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer with an 11.7-point average. He is shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 31.9 percent from deep.