Big East : Villanova sophomore duo continues bond forged in high school

first_img Comments Mouphtaou Yarou has enough familiarity with Isaiah Armwood that he almost always knows Armwood’s next move on the court. The two sophomore forwards for Villanova did, after all, play high school basketball together for a year.‘I basically know where he is going to be,’ Yarou said.Yarou and Armwood, who played their senior years of high school basketball together at Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Md., have become key contributors for the Wildcats this year in their second seasons with the team.Yarou has started all 23 games for the Wildcats and averages 8.8 points per game and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field. Armwood has started the last two games after coming off the bench in every game he played previously.Even though they aren’t always on the court together, when they are, their play is different from the play of any other two Wildcats teammates.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textVillanova assistant coach Jason Donnelly can see their close relationship translate onto the court.‘They know how to play together,’ Donnelly said. ‘They’re both friends, and they’re very competitive with each other in practice. They’re very physical how they go after each other. It’s kind of like two brothers that when they get matched up, brothers are a little more competitive when they go against each other.’The two remain close off the court, too. They lived together their senior year at Montrose, and though they’re not roommates at Villanova, they live in the same building. Donnelly can see that, too.‘When they get off the court, there’s a tightness and there’s a bond there that you have,’ Donnelly said. ‘It’s a friendship because you had a relationship before you got to college. They’re definitely close in that way.’At the start of the season, Yarou saw more minutes than Armwood. After missing time at the beginning of last season because of an illness, Yarou has stepped up this season and recorded three double-doubles. He has scored in double figures in nine games.He scored 18 in the Wildcats’ win over Marquette on Feb. 2. In Armwood’s first start of the season against that same Marquette team, he notched five rebounds. Donnelly attributes their improvements to experience.‘It takes a little while in the Big East, I think, to adjust to being ready to play at this level,’ Donnelly said.Although Armwood hasn’t put up numbers to match Yarou, he was the player Villanova coaches first noticed. They started recruiting him when he was a sophomore at Montrose Christian, and he was the first out of the two to commit to Villanova.Yarou, who is originally from Benin, a country in Africa, came to Montrose after spending his junior year at Massanutten Military Academy. It was his summer before going to Montrose that Villanova started recruiting him, too.‘It definitely helped in terms of the recruiting process that they had a relationship,’ Donnelly said. ‘But the recruitments were actually separate because we knew them before they knew each other. And as they made their commitments, they kind of worked hand in hand.’And now, with the two at Villanova, their cohesiveness on the court is expected to help the Wildcats in the stretch run of the season.‘We’re working on getting better as a team and coming together as a team,’ Armwood said.Donnelly said it’s good to have two players on the team who have played together before. He compared the relationship of Yarou and Armwood to that of Syracuse forward Rick Jackson and guard Scoop Jardine, another pair of Big East teammates who went to high school together.Jackson, a senior, and the junior Jardine played together at Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia and now start for the 20-4 Orange.‘Scoop and Rick are close, and you see Syracuse having success,’ Donnelly said. ‘So them having played together in high school only can help them when they get to the next level.’Yarou and Armwood provide camaraderie and familiarity to the team. Their relationship and ability to gel on the court is beneficial for the Wildcats, Donnelly said.And it all started back in Maryland at Montrose Christian, a school coached by the legendary Stu Vetter and the same school that produced NBA star Kevin Durant.Now that relationship is continuing at Villanova for the 19-4 Wildcats, who are 7-3 in Big East play.‘I’ve known him for a long time,’ Yarou said. ‘We’re all like a family. We hang out together.’If Armwood continues to start for the Wildcats, he has the chance to form a forward duo with Yarou.Times would be similar to their days from high school. Their relationship will help drive each other’s success.‘Basketball on the court, off the court, it’s all relationships,’ Donnelly said. ‘And they’ve got a great relationship.’Game to Watch: Marquette at No. 11 GeorgetownAfter starting 1-4 in Big East play, Georgetown has recovered nicely to win six straight games. If the Hoyas get by Syracuse, they will face Marquette, looking to win their eighth straight game. In the Hoyas’ 83-81 win over Providence on Saturday, Austin Freeman scored 23 points as the Hoyas withstood the Friars’ Marshon Brooks and his 43 [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on February 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Rachel: [email protected]last_img

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