The Big East conference schedule is a journey over treacherous winter roads, a long trip in which a team can be cruising along one moment and then an unseen patch of black ice sends it spinning into the guardrail.
It's nothing new, and no team reaches the end of the season without a flat tire or a cracked windshield along the way. Villanova suffered a second straight fender bender on Saturday, losing, 69-66, to Georgetown in a game that honestly shouldn't have been that close.
"We've fallen into some bad habits," coach Jay Wright said. "In this league . . . you pay for that."
After a road win over Syracuse, which seemed meaningful at the time, the Wildcats have now lost to Providence and Georgetown in succession. Wright said the Syracuse win was the result of getting away with taking bad shots, and the two losses that followed were because you can't get away with that very often.
"This is just life in the Big East," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "I think [Pitt coach] Jamie Dixon said it recently, that in the first part of the season the Big East beats up on the rest of the country. Then we start conference play and beat each other up. Start losing a few games and people say, 'What's wrong with this team and that team?' It's just life in the Big East."
Life is worthwhile if people say nice things about you at the end, and this Villanova team won't be judged on a stretch of loose basketball in January but by the eulogies delivered in March and, perhaps, April.
"Everybody on the team is a year older. They're not fighting [the learning process]. They listen. They'll do it," Wright said. "That's why I'm confident this team is goi