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Posts tagged with Villanova Basketball

Final Four reunion: KU assistant’s one-time protege starting for Villanova

Kansas basketball director of student-athlete development Fred Quartlebaum and Villanova forward Eric Paschall, both from Hobbs Ferry, N.Y., reunite at Final Four weekend, before the Jayhawks take on the Wildcats in the 2018 national semifinals.

Kansas basketball director of student-athlete development Fred Quartlebaum and Villanova forward Eric Paschall, both from Hobbs Ferry, N.Y., reunite at Final Four weekend, before the Jayhawks take on the Wildcats in the 2018 national semifinals. by Courtesy photo

San Antonio — If Villanova were slated to play any other team in the country on Saturday at the Final Four, Fred Quartlebaum would feel like one of the Wildcats’ biggest fans.

NCAA Tournament assignments and results from the past four rounds didn’t allow the Kansas basketball program’s director of student-athlete development to become an emotionally invested spectator of another elite team, though.

Quartlebaum, per usual, will be squarely in the Jayhawks’ corner for the national semifinal. The strange twist for the high-energy, always-smiling assistant will be actively — at least for a couple of hours — rooting against someone close to him.

Now in his fifth season on Bill Self’s staff at KU, Quartlebaum first met Villanova junior Eric Paschall when the starting forward was a middle-schooler.

“He is a tremendous kid, tremendous competitor,” the upbeat KU staffer known as “Coach Q,” shared at The Alamodome on Friday.

For a short time in his coaching profession, Quartlebaum didn’t work at the college level. He was involved with a leadership and mentoring program for students in the Westchester, N.Y., area when he first met Paschall.

A Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., native, just like KU’s assistant, a young Paschall attended a Quartlebaum camp upon recommendation.

“We’ve just always kept a close relationship since then,” Paschall revealed.

A few years later, the camper became a counselor for “Q.” By the time he graduated from high school, Paschall was off to start his college career at Fordham, the same program where Quartlebaum played from 1985 to 1989.

“I had an opportunity to see him grow up, and to see what type of young man he’s become and, gosh, he’s turned out to be a terrific basketball player, which no one was surprised about that,” Quartlebaum added of Paschall, now in his second season with the Wildcats and averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds after transferring from Fordham.

Villanova forward Eric Paschall (4) gets the ball away from Seton Hall guard Khadeen Carrington (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Villanova forward Eric Paschall (4) gets the ball away from Seton Hall guard Khadeen Carrington (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

The two reunited on Thursday at the Final Four Fan Fest. Quartlebaum greeted his Saturday foe with a “big hug” to let Paschall know how proud he is of what he has accomplished.

“I’m gonna love you today, but come Saturday we’re gonna go head-to-head,” the coach told his former pupil. “We both just laughed.”

The reunion near San Antonio’s River Walk for the duo who grew up in a N.Y. village along the Hudson River just so happened to come at college basketball’s biggest weekend.

“We knew it was a possibility,” Paschall said of he and Quartlebaum one day finding themselves as opponents, “just knowing that I was going to Villanova and he was at Kansas. But we never really talked about it. We always just have real conversations — like how we’re doing. I always ask about his two kids, Trey and Mayson. I remember coaching them in camp, so I always keep up with them.”

It’s been easy for Quartlebaum to track Paschall’s career just through social media, with so many in the Westchester area excitedly sharing the hometown hero’s highlights. The KU assistant has consumed even more footage during the past several days of preparation, too, since sending Paschall and his father, Juan, congratulatory texts following Villanova’s victory over Texas Tech.

“The cool thing about Eric is he’s extremely humble off the court, but such a fierce warrior, competitor that’s out there,” Quartlebaum said, describing his one-time protege as a versatile and integral part of the Villanova lineup. “He can shoot the ball, he can finish at the rim. He had an unbelievable dunk (in the Sweet 16, against West Virginia big Sagaba) Konate. So he can do a lot.”

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Paschall said he’s happy for Quartlebaum’s success.

“That’s my guy. Always had love for him. He’s a great dude,” the younger Dobbs Ferry representative at the Final Four said of the village’s elder statesman. “He’s always had my back and he always keeps in contact.”

Only one of the two from the small river village in New York will move on to Monday’s national championship game. It’s safe to say each will be rooting for the other from here on out — barring a March Madness rematch in 2019, that is.

“Eric has been a part of my basketball experience for quite a bit,” Quartlebaum said, “so what an honor to be here with him and celebrate this atmosphere at the Final Four.”

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Getting to know Villanova, and the Wildcats’ efficient offense

You have to be doing something right to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. In the case of the South region’s No. 2 seed, Villanova, well, the Wildcats have scorched the nets in Brooklyn, New York, and Louisville, Kentucky, putting up 88.3 points a game.

That scoring is impressive for sure, but what leaps off the stat sheet even more is Villanova’s shooting numbers. Entering Saturday night’s regional final against No. 1 seed Kansas (33-4), Jay Wright’s Wildcats have hit 57.9% of their shots or better in wins over UNC Asheville, Iowa and Miami (FL). Nova is shooting 59.9% from the floor in the Big Dance — a clip that includes blazing 53.2% accuracy from 3-point range.

So what’s the secret? According to leading scorer Josh Hart, a junior guard, patience, trust and feel have served Villanova (32-5) well. Offensive efficiency has become a part of who the players are.

While the Wildcats know there is no guarantee they can keep producing at this level against KU, with a spot in the Final Four on the line, they don’t worry about maintaining their incredible offensive numbers.

“Our offense is about getting the best shot available on that possession,” Hart said. “And we have such great shooters, such confident guys with the basketball that there’s never really the pressure to go in and make shots.”

Asked to define an ideal shot, Hart, obviously, said an uncontested one, before elaborating on how Villanova’s offense is structured to create those high-percentage shots.

“Say, I get in the lane, kick out, exit pass for a three,” Hart said. “Ideally, you want it to be wide open. It’s just shots where you’re in the lane, the big man steps up, it’s one-on-two, and me against a seven-footer. I can try to get a shot up but that won’t be the best shot that we could get. The best shot would be being able to kick down to Daniel (Ochefu) for a dunk or be able to kick out to Ryan (Arcidiacono) or Kris (Jenkins) for a three. I think that’s the best shot — just getting open shots off ball movement.”

Sound simple enough. Yet it takes a special, disciplined team to put it into action. And that’s what Villanova has done to get to this stage.

Meet the Wildcats the Jayhawks will have to keep from getting open in the regional final Saturday night.

VILLANOVA STARTERS

No. 15 — PG Ryan Arcidiacono | 6-3, 195, sr.

Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono strips the ball from Miami guard Sheldon McClellan during the first half, Thursday, March 24, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. At right is Villanova guard Josh Hart.

Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono strips the ball from Miami guard Sheldon McClellan during the first half, Thursday, March 24, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. At right is Villanova guard Josh Hart. by Nick Krug

- Stats: 12.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 43.1% FGs, 38.3% 3s (70 of 183), 82.8% FTs (82 of 99)

- hoop-math.com nugget: Only hits 35.6% of his 2-point jumpers. KU will want to keep him from getting into the lane and try to get him to take low-percentage shots.

- Brunson’s report: “Ryan’s one of the hardest-working kids I’ve ever played with. Playing against him all summer really made me better, and I think him playing against me made him better. It’s done a lot for me and him. He’s a great guy and a great player. There’s so much more to him that people don’t know about.

- Hart’s report: “A lot of times guys are coming in thinking I need to score, or I need to do this, I need to do that. He comes in thinking, ‘All right. I’m just gonna do the right thing every possession that I can.’ And that contributes to him being so far ahead of the game.”

No. 2 — F Kris Jenkins | 6-6, 240, jr.

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins, left, drives to the basket against Marquette forward Henry Ellenson, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Milwaukee. Villanova defeated Marquette 89-79. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins, left, drives to the basket against Marquette forward Henry Ellenson, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Milwaukee. Villanova defeated Marquette 89-79. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

- Stats: 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 45.7% FGs, 38.6% 3s (93 of 241), 84% FTs (79 of 94)

- hoop-math.com nugget: An effective scorer everywhere on the floor: 77.3% accuracy at the rim, 50% on 2-point jumpers. Surprisingly, only takes 12.3% of his shots at the rim.

- Hart’s report: “He’s extremely mobile… A lot of times he’s able to stretch the court out, with his ability to make shots deeper than three — we saw that (Thursday against Miami — 5-for-6 from deep). It just gives us another element to our offense, having a stretch-4 like that. And another element to our defense, him being able to get out and guard smaller guards.”

“Teams have to give him so much attention. If you don’t, he’s capable of going off for like 25, 30. Having someone who is able to stretch the court out, especially for a driver, you love it. You love being able to see open lanes, get into the defense, just make the right play.”

- Wright’s report: “Kris has got like a mid-range post-up game. I think Kris might have a little bit better range that would extend Perry (Ellis). I think Perry's better driving the ball off the dribble. Kris is going to have to contain. But they're both mismatch nightmares. Both of them. They are. For everybody. I don't mean just each other but if you get a small guy on Perry Ellis, he's posting him up. You get a bigger guy on him, and he's shooting if he has space. If he comes up on him, he's driving by him. Kris does the same thing.”

No. 3 — G Josh Hart | 6-5, 202, jr.

Villanova guard Josh Hart pulls up for a shot over Miami center Tonye Jekiri during the first half, Thursday, March 24, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Villanova guard Josh Hart pulls up for a shot over Miami center Tonye Jekiri during the first half, Thursday, March 24, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. by Nick Krug

- Stats: 15.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 51.2% FGs, 35.6% 3s (52 of 146), 75.4% FTs (98 of 130)

- hoop-math.com nugget: Benefits from teammates finding him open for 3-pointers — 92.3% of his 3’s come via assists.

- John Thompson III’s report (from Fox Sports): “When you talk about Josh Hart, the beginning and the end should be about how hard he plays. He plays as hard as anyone in college basketball.”

- Jenkins’ report (from Fox Sports): “To me, Josh is one of the best players in college basketball. Not only can he score but he also defends the best player on the opposing team. And he also rebounds with the best in country, being 6-5 and banging with 7-footers. He has lot of things that motivate him, but being underrated is something he embraces. It adds fuel to his fire.”

No. 23 — C/F Daniel Ochefu | 6-11, 245, sr.

Villanova's Daniel Ochefu (23) goes up for a shot past Georgetown's Marcus Derrickson (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Villanova's Daniel Ochefu (23) goes up for a shot past Georgetown's Marcus Derrickson (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

- Stats: 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds (2.1 offensive), 1.6 blocks, 61.9% FGs, 68.1% FTs (62 of 91)

- hoop-math.com nugget: Takes 70.8% of his shots at the rim, and finishes 69.4% of the time there. Only 15 put-backs on the offensive glass this season, but leads the team in that category.

- Hart’s report: “Very dangerous. To be able to have a 5 — I wouldn't even call him a 5-man. To be able to have a basketball player at his height be able to make the right play, a lot of times, especially here, it's easy for a big to be frustrated just because a lot of times guards take shots. We have the ball in our hands a lot. It's easy for a big to get frustrated. That's something he never gets frustrated. He's always focused on this team. He's always focused on making the right play. He's never focused on his individual stats.”

- Wright’s report: “When you have a five-man like Daniel Ochefu, who is as skilled as any of the guards, great decision-maker, ball handler, passer for his position, extremely skilled, usually the other guys are skilled. But when you have a guy like that at the five spot, you know you've got a chance to be pretty good.”

No. 1 — G Jalen Brunson | 6-2.5, 199, fr.

Villanova guard Jalen Brunson (1) holds back Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff (20) during the second half of a second-round NCAA men's college basketball tournament game, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Villanova guard Jalen Brunson (1) holds back Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff (20) during the second half of a second-round NCAA men's college basketball tournament game, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

- Stats: 9.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 45.5% FGs, 38.5% 3s (47 of 122), 77.8% FTs (77 of 99)

- hoop-math.com nugget: Can be coaxed into pulling up for one-on-one jumpers. Hits 40.3% of his 2-point jumpers, but just 8% come via assists.

- Arcidiacono’s report: “I know Jalen took a few (charges) at the beginning of the game (in Villanova’s Sweet 16 victory). A couple weren't called, but I think that set the tone and gave Miami the mindset they weren't going to get any easy baskets at the rim.”

- Brunson’s report: “I don't think there's a point in time where I said, all right, this is my breakout game. Now it's time to go for it. I think I've just always had it. I had scoring nights. I had nights I didn't even score. But I know that if I just come out, play defense and help my team rebound, we'll be successful.”

VILLANOVA BENCH

No. 25 — G Mikal Bridges | 6-7, 191, R-fr.

None by Philly.com Sports

- Stats: 6.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 51.3% FGs, 29.7% 3s (22 of 74), 77.9% FTs (53 of 68) in 20.2 minutes

- hoop-math.com nugget: Villanova’s best finisher inside. Makes 81.5% of his shots at the rim.

No. 5 — G Phil Booth | 6-3, 195, so.

- Stats: 6.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 34.6% FGs, 29.7% 3s (35 of 118), 86.6% FTs (58 of 67) in 22.1 minutes

- hoop-math.com nugget: Having a rough year, shooting wise. Only finishing 44.8% on shots at the rim and making 34.6% of his 2-point jumpers.

No. 45 — F Darryl Reynolds | 6-8, 225, jr.

None by Comcast SportsNet

- Stats: 3.8 points, 4.7 rebounds (1.2 offensive), 65.8% FGs, 71.4% FTs (45 of 63)

- hoop-math.com nugget: Essentially only operates in the paint, where he has taken 60 of his 73 shots this year. Finishes 70% of his attempts at the rim.

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