Villanova learns all about its opening-round NCAA foe

Posted: March 19, 2014

When they saw Wisconsin-Milwaukee appear in the bracket opposite Villanova for their opening game of the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats never had seen the Panthers compete and didn't know one thing about their personnel or style of play.

However, after a full day of meetings and film study Monday with coach/professor Jay Wright, the 'Nova players have more than a passing knowledge of their second-round East Regional opponent Thursday night in Buffalo.

Wright is confident that he has the players' undivided attention, with a reluctant thank-you to Seton Hall, conqueror of the Wildcats (28-4) in Thursday's Big East tournament quarterfinals.

"I think our guys were pretty confident they were going to win that game," Wright said Monday night. "I think they played that game with confidence; maybe not enough urgency, but confidence. Then they realized they can get beat. So I think it's a little easier because of that.

"I still would rather have won all those games up [in New York]. But we'll take that. By talking to them today and showing them film, I can tell they realize now, 'OK, anybody can beat us.' That's the positive we take out of" the Seton Hall loss.

It's a common theme for the Wildcats, the No. 2 seed in the region, who promise they will not overlook a No. 15 seed.

"Seton Hall, that's all we think about," junior guard Darrun Hilliard said. "I'm not going to say we looked past Seton Hall, but they came ready to play and we didn't in the first half. We'll learn from that, and we've got to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

The Panthers (21-13) were a long shot for the NCAA tournament after losing four straight late in the season and going 1-4 in their last five games. But they swept all four of their games in the Horizon League tournament, including a 73-66 overtime victory in the semifinals over regular-season champion Wisconsin-Green Bay.

The key to what made Milwaukee go received a prominent amount of attention on Monday. Jordan Aaron, a 5-foot-10 senior guard from the Bronx, scored 20.5 points per game in the tournament. He averaged 15.0 points for the season.

"He's so quick," Wright said. "When you go to double him, it's hard to keep him contained, and he can get shots off and he can get his people threes. So we're definitely going to have to guard them on the perimeter."

Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter, whose father, Bob Jeter, played in the secondary for Green Bay and is a member of the Packers' Hall of Fame, runs a structured offense similar to that of Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, the Chester native with whom he worked as an assistant coach for 10 seasons.

But at the end of the shot clock, Wright said, it's give the ball to Aaron and look out.

"He's not that big, but he just can make ridiculous shots at the end of a clock," he said. "They run great cuts, great offense. But at the end of the clock, they put it in his hands and he's scary."

Aaron also leads the team with 68 three-point baskets and shoots almost 36 percent from deep.


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