Wildcats pass easy test with N.Y. Tech

Posted: November 09, 2011

It was one last chance to break a sweat before playing for keeps, but the Villanova men's basketball team showed plenty of speed, defense, and, of course, guards in its final dress rehearsal.

The Wildcats scored a 91-58 win Tuesday night against Division II New York Institute of Technology in an exhibition game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Villanova's starting lineup included four guards and 6-foot-10 junior Mouphtaou Yarou.

Leading the guard contingent was Roman Catholic product Maalik Wayns, a 6-2 junior.

He was joined in the starting lineup by 6-6 freshman Darrun Hilliard, 6-6 junior Dominic Cheek, and 6-6 sophomore James Bell.

"I thought we were sound defensively," coach Jay Wright said.

"We have to get a lot better guarding ball screens and keeping the dribbler in front of us, but I thought as a team we were sound, especially our first five."

Eight of the 12 players on the roster are guards. The only senior is 6-foot Dallas Ouano.

One of the non-guards is 6-9, 260-pound freshman Markus Kennedy, who looks like he can be a handful near the glass.

His offensive game will need refinement, but that's the case with most freshman big men.

When Wright paired Kennedy and Yarou, Villanova didn't look very small.

Still, for most of the time, four guards were out together and the ringleader was Wayns, who showed appreciable improvement last season, doubling his minutes while averaging 13.8 points and 4.5 assists.

Wayns led all scorers Tuesday with 21 points, while Bell added 17, and Cheeks contributed eight points, 13 rebounds, and five assists.

Villanova has five freshman, and none looked timid in this exhibition.

In addition to Kennedy and Hilliard, the freshmen are 6-3 guard Ty Johnson, 6-7 forward JayVaughn Pinkston, and 6-4 guard Achraf Yacoubou. Pinkston had nine points and nine rebounds.

"We wanted to make sure they were aggressive," Wright said of the freshmen. "We told them, 'Don't worry about making mistakes, and if you do, make aggressive ones,' and they played aggressive and hard and each game they will work on cleaning up mistakes."

Yacoubou showed a nice touch along with a willingness to battle inside. Johnson had good quickness. Pinkston, who wears his 260 pounds well, doesn't seem like he minds contact.

NYIT is coming off a 13-15 season. It was a far cry from the Connecticuts and Louisvilles of the world, and while the competition in the Big East will be quite a few notches higher, it was a good opportunity for the Wildcats to work out the kinks.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter.

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