11 Dec 2021 | 03:34 | Basketball
VILLANOVA, Pa. – When the Villanova Wildcats take the court on Wednesday night at FiserV Forum against Marquette, five weeks will have passed since the squad opened its 2020-21 regular season with a 76-67 victory over Boston College.
It’s been a rather tumultuous stretch as coaches, players and administrators grapple with the realities of competing in the shadow of a global pandemic. The Wildcats first three scheduled games at Finneran Pavilion (Saint Joseph’s, Temple, and DePaul) were cancelled or postponed. Two neutral court games, against Virginia Tech and Hartford, were added on the fly at Mohegan Sun Arena. Another neutral court matchup, vs. Virginia, was scrubbed and a rescheduled date with Saint Joseph’s added last week to replace it.
Through it all, the Wildcats have remained resilient. Villanova carries a 7-1 overall, 2-0 BIG EAST mark with it to Milwaukee, where it is slated to face the Golden Eagles at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The game will be carried nationally on FS1 (Kevin Fitzgerald and Steve Lavin). The Villanova radio broadcast, featuring Ryan Fannon and Whitey Rigsby, will air on 95.7 Ben FM and the TuneIn app everywhere.
This will be Villanova’s final game in the calendar year 2020. A scheduled BIG EAST date of Dec. 30 was postponed in agreement with scheduled foe St. John’s and the conference office. Wildcats’ head coach Jay Wright explained the thinking behind this decision in the wake of Saturday night’s 88-68 Philadelphia Big Five triumph over the Hawks.
“Every team is doing what’s best for their players,” Wright stated. “We were going to play that game if St. John’s wanted to play it. St. John’s actually wanted to do the same thing we did. They felt like their guys needed a break. We called them first. If they had said they wanted to play, we would have stayed and played out of respect for them. We wanted to take a break, but we didn’t want to do so at the expense of someone else that was counting on us.
“We don’t feel like we can send our guys home (for Christmas) because of protocol issues. We’re going to have their parents come in. That way, we know who they’re in contact with. Their parents will test, and we will quarantine ourselves after that. We’re taking every precaution we can. The main thing for our players is that they want to play and they don’t want to have to quarantine them.
“So, we’re tying to do both, by giving them a break and also taking every precaution so that we can play Xavier (on Jan. 2).”
Up first, though, is this matchup at Marquette. The Golden Eagles are 5-4 overall, 1-2 BIG EAST yet have two wins over Top 10 opponents – Wisconsin and Creighton. On Sunday, Marquette lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer at Xavier 91-88.
These two teams split the two matchups last season, with the Golden Eagles earning a 71-60 victory at home and the Wildcats returning the favor 72-71 on Feb. 12 at Finneran Pavilion.
On Monday, the Wildcats rose in both national polls. In the Associated Press rankings, Villanova moved up two spots from No. 7 to No. 5. In the USA Today Coaches version, the ‘Cats are now at No. 3 after spending the previous two weeks at No. 6.
Also on Monday, sophomore Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was named Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Week and selected to the BIG EAST Honor Roll after averaging 21.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in victories over Butler and Saint Joseph’s last week.
December 11th, 2021
December 11th, 2021