In some ways, it’s amazing that Billy Donovan even plays Ryan Arcidiacono.
That’s a light-hearted reference to the fact Arcidiacono once shunned Donovan’s recruiting efforts to land at Villanova over Florida.
“I cut him from the USA team, that was my getting back at him,” Donovan cracked following Monday's Bulls practice, referencing his USA Basketball head coaching stints with the U-19 and U-18 teams.
On a serious note, coaches, including Donovan, talk all the time about seeking reliability. Knowing what you’re going to get from a player on any given night, every night.
What a luxury, then, for Donovan finally to be coaching Arcidiacono, who turned in his typically reliable stat lines during preseason action. That’s preseason action he wasn’t projected to play, a byproduct of Tomáš Satoranský’s ongoing excused absence for quarantine as part of the league’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
“You’re not going to play everybody in the rotation,” Donovan said. “But there’s importance in keeping yourself ready, being professional, taking care of your job and your responsibilities.
“I've got a lot of confidence in Arch that he's that guy, whether he's in or out of the rotation. I know whenever I call upon him, you know exactly what you’re going to get. You're going to get a tough, hard-nosed guy who's been a winner his whole entire life, who's going to find ways to impact the game and impact the team. He may not be the most talented, most gifted guy athletically, but I think he's got a lot of heart and he's going to compete and fight. He always generally makes a pretty positive impact on the group.”
Satoranský could be cleared to return for practice shortly but might need ramp-up time after time missed. Either way, Arcidiacono will be ready.
“I prepare myself every single day to be the best player I can be. And I think that you just have to be ready to go for whatever,” Arcidiacono said. “You just never know in this league. Even before COVID times you just had to always be ready to go.”
This is true. But the virus makes this dynamic even more paramount.
Over close to 18 minutes per game during the preseason, Arcidiacono averaged 5.8 points, 3.3 assists and 1.5 turnovers while shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range.
“I think I played solid. I've done what the coaches have wanted,” Arcidiacono said. “It's tough when you haven't played in nine months. Turned the ball over a little too much, but tried to stay aggressive and I know I finished out some games.”
Donovan said when Arcidiacono came to Florida from his native Pennsylvania on his recruiting visit with his parents, he looked over at the guard’s mother.
“And his mother starts to cry. I’m like, ‘This can’t be good,’” Donovan said, laughing. “She says, ‘It’s too far away from home.’ I said, ‘Arch, I can’t get in the middle of this right now.’ Little did I know Villanova came in late to offer him a scholarship and it was a lot easier. Both his parents went to Villanova.
“He made the right choice. Won a national championship and had a great career.”