Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Villanova taking ‘next man up’ approach after Gillespie injury, Justin Moore will run point
By ADAM ZAGORIA
One day after Villanova announced that senior point guard Collin Gillespie is done for the regular season with a torn MCL suffered Wednesday night against Creighton, head coach Jay Wright said his team is moving forward as best it can.
“Next day, next game, next man up for us,” Wright, whose team won the Big East regular-season title and is a projected No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters ahead of Saturday’s game with Providence.
A Bob Cousy Award finalist who averaged 14.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game, Gillespie was at practice on Friday. Wright said he will “get surgery scheduled as quickly as possible.”
Sophomore guard Justin Moore will run the point, and then it will be by committee after that. The 6-foot-4 Moore is averaging 13.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
“Justin will definitely starting at point,” he said. “From there, there will be a lot of experimentation. We got to have a good practice today. We got to work on it. We got to meet yesterday. We watched film and met as a team and discussed all the different situations. A lot of different people will be playing the point besides Justin when he’s out of the game.”
Asked who, Wright said, “You can name ‘em,” Wright said. “Seriously, we’re going to try a lot of point guard by committee.”
As for how the team’s playing style might change, Wright said: ““I hope it doesn’t change our style of play. “Now, obviously, [Gillespie] was a big part of everything we did, so probably, we will play with more balance. We play through [Gillespie] a lot, but we’ll probably play with more balance. I guess that would be the change.”
Junior forward Cole Swider said it was “devastating” to lose Gillespie, the “emotional leader of our team.”
But Wright said he expects Gillespie to be “100 percent” by June, and that he was relieved it wasn’t an ACL injury.
“When he stood up on the floor, he said to me, ‘I’m good. I can play,’ and then I saw his knee just give out when he did that,” Wright said, recalling the injury. “So, I knew it was serious, but I didn’t know what it was. We were just hoping it wasn’t ACL for him. When I heard MCL, I was happy for him, because I know he’ll be back at 100% by June with this injury.”
As for next season, Wright said he isn’t certain if Gillespie will opt to return for a fifth year after the NCAA allowed all winter athletes to have an extra season.
“I think with it being an MCL, I think he’s in good position where he’ll be healthy by the summer, so if he wanted to go, he could go,” Wright said.
Gillespie was with the team Friday and will continue to support his teammates emotionally.
“His demeanor is unfazed,” senior co-captain Jermaine Samuels said. “He’s just onto the next challenge.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.