What happens when Villanova’s 6-foot-11 big man in the middle Daniel Ochefu isn’t healthy? Just look at the team’s last loss, an upset setback in the Big East Championship game to Seton Hall.
“There’s one point in the season when we needed to start getting better was the Seton Hall game,” Ochefu told the media Sunday afternoon.”A lot mistakes happened in that game down the stretch and we started that game off terribly.”
So what’s changed?
“We’ve been talking in the huddles, even when we have big leads,” the senior said. “‘Remember what happened in this game, that game’. Using those situations make us even better.”
So does having a healthy center.
Never was this more apparent than in Saturday’s ridiculous 44-point Final Four win over Oklahoma.
“I think Daniel Ochefu was the big key,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “When we didn’t have Daniel, we were kind of one-dimensional. He adds two things. Offensively he gives us the ability to go inside and get buckets when people are taking away our threes. Then when he gets it going, he gets people threes.”
Ochefu is fully healthy and is expected to play a crucial role in the 9:19 p.m. tip off on TBS Monday, helping to equalize things against the tall and long North Carolina Tar Heels who rely on both speed and size to fuel their success.
As one of five Villanova seniors, three of whom are walk-ons and don’t play much, Ochefu is trying to focus on Monday, and not on Tuesday, when his and Ryan Arcidiacono’scollege careers are over.
“For all the seniors, we’ve been doing a good job of not making it about ourselves.,” Ochefu said.”Our final game is inevitable, it’s on Monday, we all know that. Throughout this tournament, even throughout the season, just focusing in on our teammates. We know it’s our last season. We know our last game is on Monday. We haven’t been thinking about it, talking about it. Coach Wright hasn’t been bringing it up, none of the teammates have been bringing it’s up.
“I think just keeping the focus on the team. Taking everything away from ourselves. We all know it’s our last game. We’re just blessed that it’s the championship game we’re playing in.”