When one thinks about Villanova and Coach Jay Wright, the first images that come to mind are probably Rollie Massimino and the fact that their coach is arguably the most handsome in Division I (no homo). But in recent years, Villanova basketball has also meant a team that plays small and wins without size. Over the years, Jay Wright has had tremendous success by eschewing the formal notions of basketball positions and often going with four guards and one roving perimeter-based post presence. The theory has been simple…while there could be some difficulties guarding teams with a big, the matchup problems extend the other way as well and allow the guards to get to the free throw line and shoot open three pointers.
Knowing that fact, John Calipari said this week that he called Villanova Coach Jay Wright and asked for advice on the four guard system. Until the Cats’ Big Enes finds his way on the floor, Kentucky’s best offensive option is to place the four perimeter players (Knight, Lamb, Miller and Liggins) with Jones inside and hope to crush the teams up and down the court with speed and athleticism. The early returns on this group have not been strong. When these five have been on the floor, toughness has been a real issue and they have been pushed around and killed on the glass. In order to play like Villanova, you have to get rebounding from every position and the “soft” nature of Darius Miller, Terrence Jones and Deandre Liggins on the glass in the first two games has been a problem.
While Wright can help with schemes, “toughness” has to improve to play the way Villanova does. That may sound like old school Billy Clyde, but at least with this team, he is correct. If the best lineup is to be on the floor, rebounding and aggression must improve…we will see Friday night if signs of that improvement are shown.