The areas for improvement were pretty obvious for No. 16 Villanova during its first loss of the Kyle Neptune era.
Rebounding and defense.
Neptune, who took over for retired Hall of Fame head coach Jay Wright, suffered his first setback with a 68-64 decision to Temple on Friday in Philadelphia.
The Wildcats (1-1) will look to respond with a home game against Delaware State (1-1) on Monday.
“I thought they were really physical to start the game,” Neptune said of Temple. “I thought they imposed their will on the offensive glass. I know they had like five or six offensive rebounds to start the game. Neither team could score. I thought that was the difference early. They made it tough for us all night. It was never easy.”
Caleb Daniels led the Wildcats with 19 points on Friday after collecting 24 points and 10 rebounds in Villanova’s 81-68 win over La Salle in the season opener for both teams.
Eric Dixon added 18 against Temple after he poured in 20 in the season opener. Jordan Longino had 11 on Friday and guard Chris Arcidiacono pulled down 10 rebounds.
But the Wildcats clearly appeared to be missing injured standouts Justin Moore (Achilles) and preseason Big East freshman of the year Cam Whitmore (right thumb).
“Hats off to Temple,” Neptune said. “They just played really well tonight. They are very well-coached and executed their game plan.”
Villanova will be facing Delaware State for just the second time in program history, with the one win coming in 2001.
The Hornets were throttled 95-57 in their season opener Nov. 7 at Virginia Tech before rallying to defeat Immaculata 104-67 on Thursday.
Delaware State shot 61 percent in the second half and 55.4 percent for the game against the Mighty Macs.
The Hornets were led by Robert Morris transfer Brandon Stone, who had 25 points and nine rebounds. Khyrie Staten added a career-high 21 points to go along with six assists and four steals.
Corey Perkins also contributed 10 assists and five steals in the balanced effort.
The task will become much tougher against Villanova in the first of five straight road games.
Especially for a team which won only two games all of last season. Keep in mind that Immaculata competes in Division III.
“We have some new guys we hope will have an impact, we expect will have an impact in the MEAC and on our team,” Delaware State head coach Stan Waterman said in a preseason interview. “We’ve got some size and we’ve got some length.”
Waterman cited Stone’s presence, which was evident against the Mighty Macs.
“We hope he’ll make an immediate impact,” Waterman said.
Delaware State was picked to finish in a tie for seventh place with South Carolina State in the eight team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason poll.
“Right now, on paper, it looks really good,” Waterman said. “It’ll be interesting to see how it all comes together.”
–Field Level Media