Jay Wright is a coach, and when you're a coach, you complain. In the wake of his No. 1-ranked team's 98-78 dismantling of Creighton in Philadelphia on Thursday night, Wright might well concede grudgingly that, yes, his team can score. But then he'll complain about his defense.
As it happens, Villanova's defense is most certainly open to question. Still, we're verging on very interesting and perhaps unprecedented basketball questions with this team.
After all, just how disastrous does one's defense have to be to put your team in real peril when your offense is scoring 1.29 points per possession in conference play? We have to make a public demonstration over worrying about defense, sure. Just factor this into the equation, as well ...
Wright has now had five outstanding offenses in a row, but, even by Wright standards, this 2017-18 group is the best-scoring offense he has had yet.
With high-usage stars such as Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges consistently draining their shots, Villanova threatens to become the greatest shooting team Division I has seen in a very long while. Currently, the Wildcats are shooting percentages of 63 and 43 from inside and beyond the arc, respectively, in Big East play.
Meanwhile, Nova's entire-season effective field-goal percentage (eFG) still sits just north of 60. The only team to have done that in the KenPom era is Samford in 2004-05 (60.3). So again, while it has been clear for a while now that Wright gives his players magic shooting pills, the effects are being displayed to their fullest extent this season.
In addition to Brunson and Bridges, guys such as Donte DiVincenzo (converting nearly 60 percent of his 2-point tries), Eric Paschall (see DiVincenzo, but drop the "nearly") and redshirt freshman Omari Spellman (hitting 43 percent of his 3s) present opposing defenses with a veritable flow chart of no-win options. Whichever Wildcat is left open, and almost regardless of the location, you will be hurt.
To make matters worse for opponents, Villanova is achieving new levels of excellence in terms of taking care of the ball. In Big East play, this offense has committed a turnover on just 13 percent of its possessions, the best figure in the league. When you end 87 percent of your possessions with some form of shot and your accuracy is historically excellent, the result is going to be points in abundance. That is what we're seeing from this team.
Maybe Wright might grudgingly respond to all of the above. But what about the defense?
First off, it's not that bad. The Cats have allowed Big East opponents to score 1.09 points per trip, a number that puts this defense on the wrong side of the league average by the smallest of margins.
So sure, this unit -- and particularly its conference-worst defensive rebound percentage -- could use improvement. No one is questioning that. What's open to question is what conclusion we're to draw when we see a team with an average defense and possibly the best offense the sport of college basketball has beheld in the past 15 years. People thought UCLA might pose that same question last season, but it didn't quite happen. Now, here we are again with the Wildcats.
It's possible that what we should make of such a team is this: Villanova baffles the casual basketball eye in all of us. You can watch this defense for a game and, I dare say, peg it pretty well.
That might not be the case with this offense. On that side of the ball, Wright's guys are scoring with a level of efficiency and doing so over a duration that we haven't seen before. Both of those quantities can be challenging to appreciate by dipping in for a few possessions or even by sitting down for a whole game.
The net product of Villanova's incredible offense and so-so defense is, on paper, a clear national title contender. You will hear Wright complain otherwise, and he might have to keep doing so all the way to the first Monday night in April.