Marquette continues its run through the Big East gauntlet with a matchup at Villanova tomorrow. To get an insider's perspective on the 2010-2011 Wildcats I interviewed Brian Ewart from VU Hoops (http://www.vuhoops.com/). If you want to read my answers to his questions, you can find them here. Enjoy.
1. Villanova started out pretty hot this season but has since lost 3 of their last 4 games. What has lead to this skid? Is it the brutal nature of the Big East schedule or is it something more?
The brutality of the Big East has a lot to do with it, it can definitely wear a team down. Lately we've seen some offensive struggles. The shooting percentages have been down and a lot of that has to do with the 'Cats not getting the ball inside to Yarou and Pena. Stokes has been getting a lot of attention from opposing defenses lately and they need to be productive inside to open things up for him again.
2. What about the 2010-11 squad has impressed you? What has frustrated you?
The defense has come a LONG way since last year's Flying-Wildcat. The most frustrating has been Maalik Wayns' attempts at running the offense, which often consists of dribbling at the top of they key for 20 seconds before either driving or taking an ill-advised and off-balance (or contested) jump-shot.
3. Corey Fisher seems to be the clear leader on this team, is that true? If no, why not? If yes, how has he handled taking the reins from Scottie Reynolds?
I'm not really sure if Fisher is the clear leader, but he has definitely come a long way. Pena and Stokes have both shown some leadership this year, and there was a stretch where Stokes was carrying the team on his back. Frankly, I don't think anyone could be Scottie Reynolds, nor should they be. Scottie put it all on himself and it absolutely wore him down at the end.
4. How do you feel about the 4 freshmen in next year's class?
I think Yacoubou will come in and contribute right away, but Markus Kennedy will be able to contribute inside immediately. Ty Johnson could be either a HUGE piece for the Wildcats if Wayns bolts early (though that looks less and less likely) or a key roleplayer. None of the four is the sort of "one-and-done" guy that fans lust over, but I think over a four year career, they will all develop into good Big East players.
5. Which place is tougher for a visiting team to play at, The Pavilion or Wells Fargo Arena? Which is a better environment for college basketball? Which do you prefer?
The Pavilion. Easily. It's smaller, more intimate, and when the student section is packed, it is much louder than the WFC. I get to the WFC more often because it's easier to get tickets, and I have a lot of great memories in that place because we play a lot of big games there, but it's always just a little more "special" to go to a game at the Pavilion.
6. Marquette and Villanova have played each other pretty close in the last couple years. What do you think will decide Wednesday's matchup?
Defense. Darius Johnson-Odom killed the 'Cats last year in that second game and it will be important to stop him from doing any more damage. Villanova is a little bigger than in years-past, but these are still both athletic teams that play at a similar pace, so limiting mistakes and defending will be very important.
Honestly though, whatever I usually think will be the deciding factor isn't.
7. What will make Villanova a dangerous team in March?
Defense! Getting stops without fouling was something the 'Cats could do last season. The offense will need to come around a bit and get more comfortable in the half-court as well.
8. Is it true that Jay Wright wears a three-piece suit to bed?
Ever heard of suitjamas?