When Wildcat fans heard that Jahvon Quinerly, a 5-star recruit, was coming to Villanova to continue the team’s history of heady point guards, expectations were set high. Coach Wright has developed his guards by affording them significant minutes on or off the bench early in their college careers. By doing so, the guards learn their defensive responsibilities and have the ability to run an offense in a limited role without too much pressure to create. However, this has not been the case for Quinerly, which has lead to some tension around the team. After the loss to Penn, Quinerly posted this on his Instagram story:
Also, during the Xavier game on January 18th, a “We want Jelly!” chant broke out in the second half.
The Wildcats made another addition to the team for this season in Joe Cremo, a sharpshooting senior transferring from Albany. Cremo was expected to provide a veteran presence and some depth after the exodus of players from the championship team. Thus far, Cremo has filled his role very well, but Quinerly has not quite been able to find consistent minutes on the court. Unfortunately, his playing time and involvement in the offense does not match his recent predecessors or fans’ expectations.
As all Villanova fans can recognize, Ryan Arcidiacono and Jalen Brunson were truly special players that excelled early in their collegiate careers. Quinerly’s season is most comparable to Gillespie’s 2017-2018 season; however, Quinerly has only played meaningful minutes (not garbage time) in 12 games (out of 18) while Collin Gillespie participated in competitive play in all but 3 games.
What is causing Quinerly’s decreased workload? Unfortunately, Wildcat fans are not able to watch Quinerly’s performance on the practice court, the proving grounds for Coach Wright. One key difference between Quinerly and the rest of the guards is that Quinerly is not as much of a floor-spacer; Quinerly is shooting 20.7% on 3-point attempts while the others shot above 35%. Therefore, Quinerly cannot be a cog in the offense without the ball in his hands. Another issue is Quinerly’s defense; he is an undersized guard that gets beat man-on-man frequently. Additionally, he has defensive miscues and often gets stuck in the habit of hugging his man opposed to help defense.
Many fans have wondered why Cremo is playing substantial minutes while Quinerly watches from the bench. After all, Cremo struggles to create off the bounce and coughs up the ball too often. In addition to that, Quinerly needs to develop as a major piece to the team’s next few years while Cremo is already a senior. However, Cremo is a solid defender in man-on-man situations and displays excellent awareness as a help defender. On the offensive end, he is not a high-volume scorer, but he is a deep-threat that provides floor-spacing, a staple of the Wright offense, as a 40.4% 3-point shooter.
Now let’s take a look at some of Quinerly’s and Cremo’s clips to figure out Coach Wright’s decisions:
Cremo is a staunch man-on-man defender by using his footwork and body positioning to make the opponent uncomfortable without using his hands, which limits risk of fouling. The clip above shows his great defensive stance against Depaul’s most threatening offensive player. Though the Depaul player appears to push off Cremo, Cremo closes the distance between the two quickly to cause an uncomfortable 3-point shot.
There are two types of defense: individual defense and team defense. Team defense is generally less discussed compared to individual defense, which largely depends on physical abilities. Cremo is a solid individual defender, but his team defense or help defense is not talked about enough. In the clip above, Cremo tracks the progression of the play. When he recognizes and predicts the next development of the play (an entry pass over a fronting Phil Booth), Cremo acts without hesitation. By acting so quickly, Cremo steals the ball without fouling and taking away a shooting possession from Depaul.
On the offensive side, Cremo fits into the Villanova scheme with his floor-spacing and passing. However, he is not a good ball handler and falls in the habit of picking up his dribble. Due to his prowess as a shooter, he is able to pump fake from the 3-point line that many defenders bite on. Sometimes that creates an easy pass to a teammate, but oftentimes Cremo drives to the paint where a few defenders meet him. That is when Cremo tends to pick up his dribble to pass the ball, but the problem is that once he stops, the passing lanes usually close. Cremo is able to get off a pass in the clip above, but it is a weak, inaccurate pass.
On the other hand, Quinerly is limited on the defensive end of the ball because of his size and inexperience. Quinerly gets back early on the transition possession, which is great. But the reason getting back on defense quickly is beneficial is that the defensive players can match up on their man and communicate to set up the half-court defense. In the clip above, Quinerly is standing at the charge circle watching the ball handler, guarding no one. Quinerly needs to set up above the free throw line as his man does not pass the 3-point line. Once Quinerly’s man receives the ball, Quinerly scrambles to get in normal guarding positions. The opponent uses this leverage to drive on Quinerly and score over him with his physical advantages. Above all, the most important takeaway from this clip is that Quinerly does not set foot on the court in the game after the possession.
Cremo is not a flashy player that lights up the box scores, but he is a strong contributor on the floor. The argument for Coach Wright to increase Quinerly’s minutes regards the development of his skills on offense, but he really has only shown flashes of his speed. So far, he has not shown much passing vision, finishing around the rim, or playmaking abilities to set up his teammates. Hopefully, Quinerly will grow throughout the remainder of the season and his collegiate career. However, Cremo is the best option for the guard rotation as Villanova proceeds through Big East competition and into the postseason.