On Saturday November 5, 2016, Coach Jay Wright was delighted to share the last bit of pageantry of the memorable 2015-16 basketball season with the faithful fans of the Villanova Wildcats that resulted in the team’s second national championship (the first came in 1985). The fans at the Wells Fargo Center got to witness the unveiling of the two championship banners that were raised to the rafters. One honored the 1985 team, the other the 2016 team. But the moment the banners were revealed, Wright was ready to move on to the new season. And, by and large, so was the 2016-17 team, as it routed the Crimson Hawks of Indiana University of Pennsylvania by the score of 94-49.
Villanova had five players in double figures – led by All-American candidate Josh Hart who scorched the nets for 27 points. Eric Paschall tallied 18 points, Mikal Bridges contributed 17, and Jalen Brunson and Kris Jenkins, who hit perhaps the most significant shot in the storied history of Villanova basketball, each tossed in 11. Paschall grabbed 8 boards, as did Darryl Reynolds to lead the Wildcats in rebounding. Villanova, which had 24 assists on 34 made buckets, was paced by Hart and Brunson who both had 5 assists.
The biggest surprise of the day was that Senior and co-captain Kris Jenkins was not in the Wildcats starting lineup. In his place was Mikal Bridges. A minor issue involving weight, since resolved, was the basis for Jenkins being on the bench at the start of the game.
If the coach had any cause for concern it was the fact that the Crimson Hawks grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and that the Wildcats committed 14 turnovers. It is highly likely that this will be corrected before the new season officially tips off on Friday night at the Pavilion when Villanova entertains the Lafayette Hawks in their season opener (6:30 p.m.).
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[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
[Article by Stephen Miller]
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