VILLANOVA, Pennsylvania — The Villanova Wildcats play their first home game in almost three weeks as part of the BIG EAST/Big 12 Battle against Oklahoma (6-1 overall) on Saturday afternoon. The Sooners will be at the Wells Fargo Center for a contest that ends at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
CBS will be televising the game nationally with Tom McCarthy, Bill Raftery and Jon Rothstein on the mics. The radio message will be heard on Villanova Sports Network (Ryan Fannon and Whitey Rigsby). This show can also be heard on Sirius XM channels 135 or 203 or on the app on channel 966. Villanova celebrates its annual “Alumni Day” with a halftime ceremony honoring many of the program’s legendary performers.
The Wildcats (2-5 overall) will be looking for a setback after losing three close contests in a row to Iowa State, Portland and Oregon at the PK Invitational over Thanksgiving weekend. On Sunday, Nova rallied to take a 67-64 lead against the Ducks by just over two minutes before Oregon scored the final 10 points of the game to seal the win.
“All we have to think about is that we’re going to get better today,” said the Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune after the Wildcats practiced at the Finneran Pavilion on Friday morning. “If we were undefeated now, that would be our mindset too.
“We tried to get better at every little thing in training this week. We worked on our rebound, better ball pressure and our defensive concepts, which we want to take with us. Offensively we tried to play with a little more speed and share the ball better. It’s every little thing.
freshman forward Cam Whitmore returned to limited training this week after missing the last seven weeks following surgery on his right (shooting) thumb in October. He is officially listed as the game time decider for Saturday’s game.
“Cam’s a talent,” Neptune said. “But if you think about it, he’s dealing with a lot. He’s a newbie. It’s difficult for any newbie learning a new system. Adapting to consistently playing hard is difficult for a newbie. Playing against bigger, stronger and faster players than you’ve ever faced is tough.
“And then you think he hasn’t played basketball in seven weeks. I don’t care if you’re Michael Jordan or LeBron. If you haven’t played basketball in seven weeks, you won’t be top notch. He’s dealing with a lot and we’re just trying to get him back in while he’s recovering from a serious injury to his shooting hand.”
Neptune indicated that he expects Maryland’s product to have a minute limit when he sees game action.
“The first time he comes back,” Neptune remarked, “he probably won’t be fully revved up.”
This week, Villanova leaned on veterans Caleb DanielsEric Dion and Brandon Slater what it looks like to get out of that early hole.
“We’ve played a lot of close games against a lot of good teams lately,” Neptune said of a daunting stretch that included a visit to the nation’s leading state, Michigan, on Nov. 18. “Obviously as a competitor you want to win every game you play.. Sometimes it takes adversity to get you where you need to be.
“Hopefully we can use that experience as the season progresses.”
This is the first of two direct home spots for the Wildcats, who host Philadelphia Big Five rival Penn at the Finneran Pavilion Wednesday night (7 p.m. / CBS Sports Network and Villanova Sports Radio Network).