RADNOR, Pa. (CBS) — The 2018 national champion Villanova Wildcats are getting ready to start a new season tonight. This season, they’ll be playing in a newly redesigned arena — with a radically redesigned team.
The Finneran Pavilion has a massive face lift for this season.
One of the most exciting additions is the placement of the court from the 2016 National Championship Game in the Fitzgerald Club; The court where where Kris Jenkins hit one of the greatest shots of all-time to deliver Villanova’s second-ever championship.
The Pavilion isn’t the only Villanova product that underwent drastic changes this off season.
The Wildcats lost four players to the NBA draft since last season: National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman.
The ninth-ranked Wildcats will have a much different look this season.
“We’ve never lost this much firepower, this much depth, in one year,” head coach Jay Wright said. “But its just a new kind of challenge, you know. We definitely have young guys coming in that are looking forward to being given the opportunity to fill in for that firepower they’re ready to go.”
That leaves seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth as the next wave of leaders.
“It’s different you know, last year we had a lot of older guys who knew a lot,” Phil Booth said. “And now its just a teaching process for young guys trying to get them acclimated to what we’re doing. You know, with me and Eric here, coming back, you know it’s a totally different role, way bigger leadership role than last year.”
Everyone remembers perhaps the greatest shot of all time from the 2016 National Championship Game, compliments of Jenkins, but do you recall that Booth was the Wildcats’ leading scorer in that game with 20 points?
Booth will be focal point on offense this season but it’s the group of sophomores Wright will need to grow up quickly.
“The four guys who are really the X-factors for us this year are Dylan Painter, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Colin Gillespie, and Jermaine Samuels,” Wright said. “Those four — we don’t have any juniors — those four are sophomores and they’re kinda thrust into a role that we thought we’d have Donte and Omari there where there’s a lot of pressure put upon them.”
The Wildcats host Morgan State tonight at 7 p.m.