Villanova searching for ‘core values’ in rebuilding season

Freshman Darrun Hilliard and the young Wildcats need to mature quickly if they expect to compete in Big East.

This type of season comes along once in a while. Even for a program used to winning and going to the NCAA tournament.

It has happened at North Carolina. It has happened at Duke. It has happened at Syracuse.
Now, it’s happening at Villanova.

Just three years ago, the Wildcats advanced to the Final Four thanks to a coast-to-coast layup by Scottie Reynolds.

Heading into tonight’s clash against No. 1 Syracuse at the Wells Fargo Center, Villanova is a mere 8-8 and 1-3 in the Big East. Until Sunday’s 87-71 win over DePaul, the Wildcats had dropped their first three Big East games for the first time since joining the league in 1980-81.

“We’re a struggling team,” Wright said after a frustrating 17-point home loss to South Florida last Thursday. “We have to battle through this and get better. We know we have to answer to outsiders.
But that doesn’t really bother us. We hear it, but we’re going to evaluate ourselves based on our core values.”

How did the Wildcats get here?

Well, there are always reasons. How about transfers, like guard Malcolm Grant, going to Miami. Or losing key seniors, such as Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena. And missing incoming players, like freshman Ty Johnson, who broke his foot last summer and is just getting back to 100
percent.

Villanova doesn’t have one scholarship senior, so juniors such as Maalik Wayns and Mouphtaou Yarou have been thrust in leadership roles earlier than anticipated.

“Something good will happen for this team,” Wayns said. “You have to take the good with the bad. You can’t let yourself get too high or too low. You have to try and stay on an even keel and keep working.”



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