Try saying Ryan Arcidiacono. That is a mouthful of a last name. If you are a college basketball fan and you do not know this name, you better start practicing its pronunciation because he will be the key to the Villanova Wildcats‘ success over the course of the 2014-15 season.
If you are a fan of coach Jay Wright‘s team, you might be wondering about returning studs Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston, the second and third-leading scorers on last year’s team. Arcidiacono’s 9.9 PPG might not have been as flashy as other players on the team, but his timeliness and ability to do the little things correctly are what makes his value skyrocket.
Arcidiacono has not lit up the stat sheet when it comes to field goal percentage. He shot 39.5 percent from the field and 34.3 from beyond the arc. Although these are improvements from his freshman year, they are still less than impressive. On the other hand, quality can trump quantity in some cases, and Arcidiacono is one of those cases as he has been able to make key plays down the stretch during important games in his career.
He sent a game into overtime with under five seconds to go in his freshman year against the Syracuse Orange, who were ranked third in the nation at the time. The Wildcats won that game. Last season, he hit a go-ahead throw against the second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, and completed a game-winning 3-point play in the second overtime against the Providence Friars.
This guy has stepped up a handful of times for his team when they needed him, and as he continues to progress, expect him to continue to take and make big shots.
His ability to help the Wildcats on both sides of the ball is also impressive. Arcidiacono has led the team in minutes per game for the two years that he has been a part of it, so Wright must feel fairly comfortable with the guy on the floor. He also led the squad with 3.5 APG while only turning the ball over 1.4 times per game, sporting a solid 2.48 assist/turnover ratio. His consistency on defense has been noticed as well, averaging 1.1 STLPG in each of his first two seasons — pretty impressive.
The biggest aspect of his game that needs to be fixed is his offensive consistency. The shooting numbers mentioned before do not scream efficient, especially for one of the team’s better shooters, let alone a player at the guard position. If the Wildcats want to make a run deep into the NCAA tournament, Arcidiacono will need to bring it more frequently.
This is easier said than done with defenses focusing on him more as he gets older, but is definitely doable as he has proven that he can get hot from a lot of different places on the court.
Look for the Wildcats to have success in the Big East. They are one of the league’s premiere programs both historically and currently, and they have pretty good head coach on their side. However, if they want to compete at a national level, Arcidiacono will not only have to play the way he has so far in his early career, but also continue to make improvements to his inconsistent game.