Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at 335 Division I teams. To order the complete 2012-13 edition of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.
(Information in this team report is as of Oct. 1.)
COACH AND PROGRAM
Jay Wright had warned everyone early. After directing Villanova to 20 or more victories and NCAA tournament berths in each of the previous seven seasons as head coach, he served notice at the start of last season that the Wildcats were going through a rebuilding phase with no seniors, only one reliable offensive player and a class of talented but untested freshmen.
However, few in Nova Nation were actually prepared for the product they saw on the court. The Wildcats couldn't shoot consistently. Their defense was horrendous. They blew big leads and lost tight games. Wright tried a bigger lineup but it was mostly ineffective. The final result was a school record-tying 19 defeats and the second-worst Big East record in their 32-year history in the conference.
The defensive numbers were particularly eye-opening, especially in Big East games where the Wildcats gave up nearly 76 points per game, ranking next to last. Overall, the team went 2-15 when allowing 72 or more points. A staggering total of 19 opposing guards put up 20 or more points on 'Nova, with West Virginia's Darryl Bryant, Temple's Ramone Moore and Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb each topping 30.
In accounting for his team's woes on defense, Wright pointed to the offense, which finished last among league teams in field-goal shooting and turnovers.
"I really believe [the defense] came down to the fact that we couldn't score," Wright said. "We missed shots and our opponent was always in transition and they were getting the easy shots and shooting the high percentages. Up until last year, we had been one of the leading scoring teams in the Big East every year. We would score and we'd get our defense set with our little three-quarter court press, which we didn't use last year because we were so big.
"So I think it really came from our offense not being able to score. There were some games where we could slow the tempo down and keep it a close game. We were OK defensively in the half-court. But it seemed like we were always in transition defense."