We have a great network of BIG EAST blogs here on SBNation, and one of them is our aptly named Villanova site The Nova Blog. Chris Lane from TNB was nice enough to answer some questions about Corey Fisher, Jay Wright, and Big East expansion.
1. Corey Fisher has done well after being Scottie Reynolds' understudy for the past 3 years. How has he done now that he is getting the bulk of the minutes?
I think it's been a mixed bag so far this year for Corey. Especially at the start of the season, he seemed to be forcing a lot of shots (probably realizing he was 'the guy' and almost nothing was falling for him. The only thing he was truly adept at was getting to the line and sinking his FT's, which is why he's got a good scoring average to this point.
Lately he has been much more efficient from the floor to maintain his scoring. I think the emergence of Corey Stokes as a #1 option has helped ease the pressure on him.
2. It seems like you've been searching for a post since Dante Cunningham left a few years ago. How has this year's team done to add that presence down low?
We're pretty dependent on just two guys - Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou. Pena is a 5th year senior and is very solid on the defensive end, but has a tendency to disappear for long stretches on offense. When he's assertive however, he typically produce solid results and is starting to knock down the 12-15 footer that made Cunningham so difficult to deal with.
Yarou is still such a raw talent, but you can see the strides he's making if you watch him every game like we do. He's a beast on the glass and on the defensive end. He still looks lost sometimes on offense but when he gets the ball on the low block he's nearly impossible to stop unless you foul him.
3. Do you think the players dislike Jay Wright? You had issues at the end of last season, could they have rolled forward to this year?
I don't think I would say "dislike" at all - sure there have been problems, and it is no secret that Jay demands perfection (especially out of his guards). Many times, even when somebody makes a good play he'll call them over and chew them out. I would guess that isn't something many players like, but at the end of the day they realize it's good for them.
The family atmosphere he has created for the program has been nothing but positive. If players can't play for him, they belong under a free-for-all regime like John Calipari has created.
4. What can USF do to keep this game close?
A few things - mainly hope that Villanova comes out sloppy after a long flight to Florida (and they've had a tendency to start slow this year). If USF can build a lead while 'Nova adjusts, it will be a game (we saw this with Rutgers until 'Nova turned it on). I think Famous and Gilchrist are going to have to try and get Pena and Yarou into foul trouble because we don't have a ton behind them.
I think stopping Stokes and Fisher should be priority #1. Fisher can be frustrated - we haven't seen that from Stokes yet though. And I'm not sure Maalik Wayns is truly ready to carry a team on his back for a game yet.
5. We know that Villanova has a standing invitation for football. In the end do you think Nova makes the step up from FCS to FBS?
My answer right now is still "yes." But I'm not really comfortable with it. Nothing has been made public but from the few leaks that are out there, there are tons of Board members that do not want it. Jay Wright definitely does (because he's smart and realizes if we don't, the basketball program could fall apart).
I think the President originally was against the move, but is turning because there is such an alumni outcry FOR the move. I think all that remains is convincing the rest of the board that the financial support will be there to initially support this move.
6. Finally, how do you think Thursday will play out?
I believe last time we came to the Sun Dome (or 2 times ago?) we really struggled and barely pulled out a win. It's a sneakily tough place to play because it's a long trip for most teams. I think Villanova will typically start off slow before turning it on in the 2nd half to pull out a double-digit win that won't indicate how tough of a game it actually was.
Villanova 79-66 is my prediction.
Thanks again to Chris and make sure to follow TNB on Twitter. He will have our answers up to his questions later this afternoon.