Scary news out of Villanova today that freshman Mouphtaou Yarou is out indefinitely with Hepatitis B. Certainly the primary concern is the Wildcat big man regains his health from a scary disease that can affect liver function.
But losing Yarou for quite possibly the entire season also will impact Villanova's attempt to return to the Final Four. The biggest question mark for a talented Villanova team is in the frontcourt, where the Wildcats are trying to replace Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark. Junior Antonio Pena has been a surprising bright spot. Pena is averaging 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds through the first six games, putting up incredibly productive numbers after serving as Cunningham's understudy.
But after Pena, the Wildcats are very thin. Duke transfer Taylor King isn't a post-up player and Maurice Sutton, while a serviceable backup, hasn't been asked to contribute much in his career. Rookie Isaiah Armwood, too, is a good role player off the bench.
Villanova has experience winning without a big man. The Wildcats went to the Elite Eight with four guards and an undersized center in Will Sheridan in 2006. The guards in place now -- Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns and Corey Stokes -- are talented enough to carry the Cats, but asking them to do what Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi and Kyle Lowry did is a pretty tall order.
How Pena continues to develop -- and his ability to stay out of foul trouble -- will be critical, especially in the always physical Big East.