Coaching Trouble Brewing with Villanova Basketball?

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Jay Wright? No, it’s Kyle Neptune, first year coach leading Villanova basketball, who has the Wildcats limping into January. The Wildcats have losses to Temple on the road, Michigan State on the road, Iowa State on a neutral, Portland on a neutral, and Oregon on a neutral, going 0-3 in the PK85 Invitational Victory tournament.

Villanova Basketball So Far

While fans shouldn’t quite rule out on Villanova missing the tournament this year because they did miss Cam Whitmore up until the game against Oklahoma, as he is supposed to be a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft, rated as the 11th best freshmen in the class of 2022. On top of all that, Justin Moore, the senior guard who averaged 14.8 points a game last season is also out for injury reasonings.

With Cam Whitmore back in the lineup, Villanova is 5-0 with wins over the Sooners, St John’s who impressively is 11-6, and Boston College. They did however miss a golden opportunity to shock UConn at the XL Center though, which could come back to bite them. Metrics wise, Villanova basketball is 25th at KenPom in adjusted offensive efficiency, 121th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and 328th in adjusted tempo, which is bottom 50 in college basketball. Overall they rank 62nd at KenPom, which is most likely more to do with being a blue blood and their name and brand more than what they have done this season and quality of wins. If you put a team like West Virginia in the same situation with the same players and same results, they are most likely in the 80-125 range at KenPom.

The Why Factor

So, why is Villanova basketball struggling? Aside from injuries, they lack defensive effort. When a team would go on a run they had nobody to trust to go up and stop that run, especially in the Pk85 tournament. The offense is there and it will always be there with Villanova basketball. But for a team like Villanova there is zero reason why they should lose to Portland, a school who has only made the tournament two times.

They don’t match the other teams tempo well, causing them to fail to keep up with their pace, but on the flip side they are making their opponent play to their pace, making them uncomfortable, like Syracuse (217th in adjusted tempo), a very slow paced team.

So all in all, you can make the case for their struggles being because they are not healthy, but you are Villanova, you should be able to go out and recruit, especially now with the transfer portal being so chaotic. There is so reason why you should have productivity trouble depth wise as a program that has been to national championships regularly, won Big East titles on the regular, and is a force to be reckoned with year in and year out. I can give you the excuse of “Kyle Neptune is a first year head coach and he is adjusting to the level of not being an assistant next to Jay anymore,” but I can not give you the depth excuse.

The transfer portal is wide open than it has ever been in some time. Wake Forest turned their team around and built through the portal and now is a tournament considered team, which before that they were a bottom feeder in the Atlantic Coast Conference along with Pittsburgh and Boston College. Jay Wright also said on a interview with Matt Norlander on the CBS Eye on College Basketball Podcast that Kyle sometimes calls him and asks him what he would do in this situation. Jay most of the time would help him but he said sometimes he needs to just figure it out on himself, that what makes a great coach, doing it the hard way and finding a lot of about who you are as a coach.

What will Neptune do if they go down again? That’s a segment for another article but something to think about. Villanova basketball is struggling in 2023 and, so far, it hasn’t been pretty but there is some life.

Let us know your thoughts on the state of Villanova basketball in the comments below!

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  • James says:

    Awful start of the Neptune era. D- grade at best. Everything just off – turnovers, can’t shoot 3s, can’t defend. Maybe the only bright spot is free throws.

    Next year could be real ugly after Cam goes pro. If Neptune wants to keep his job longer than 3 seasons, he needs to show his recruiting skills and start winning by year 3.

  • Donald Lane says:

    A-men! The elephant in the room IS the lack of the ability to “guard” of some key people. Some of their scorers don’t have the athleticism to compete at the level needed against their individual match up.

  • Tom Uckele says:

    They need Justin Moore back. The team has lost its star quarterback, Gillespie. But seriously, if Moore’s just sitting out the season to protect his NBA career?? He should lose his scholarship. But hey, season is lost anyway now! I graduated a year behind George Halcovage’s Dad, George, Sr. At our catholic HS upstate.

  • mike says:

    fire him

  • Brian Blum says:

    Can kyle!

    Dude is in over his head!

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