By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You really couldn’t draw up a much better start to the season for the Villanova Wildcats.
They are 9-0, they already own a signature win over Kansas and a “Battle 4 Atlantis” tournament title. Throw in a couple of blowout wins over Big 5 opponents Penn and St. Joe’s and you get a #10 (AP) ranking in the country.
Not bad for a team that wasn’t ranked at all on Thanksgiving.
“Because of our experienced guys, I did think we could get off to a good start,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright tells KYW Newsradio. “We’re a basket away in the Kansas game from losing, and a basket away in an overtime win against Iowa from losing. But I’m happy with the way we’re playing, whether we would’ve won or lost those games.”
Prior to this month, Villanova hadn’t been ranked in the AP Top 25 since February of 2011. Wright says getting national recognition in the polls is important for his squad.
“These guys on the team now have not been on a nationally-ranked team,” Wright says. “We’ve had other teams (ranked), but not this group. So it’s really good for them, a lot of the young guys are experiencing it and hopefully we can build on that.”
But Wright says his team also has to be well aware that a heightened profile means future opponents will always bring their best against the Wildcats.
“It’s a continual discussion with expectations all the time,” Wright says. “Because you are dealing with 18 to 22 year olds, they get a lot of input from the outside. So it just heightens the importance of addressing that with the team.”
Despite being 9-0 and outscoring opponents by an average of 18 points a game, Wright says there is always room for improvement.
“We can defend a lot better,” Wright says. “We’re making shots which covers a lot of errors, but we can defend a lot better and we can rebound consistently better. We’ve had some good rebounding games and some poor rebounding games.”
Villanova will return to the court on Sunday when they host La Salle in a Big 5 match-up at the Pavilion.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.