Sunday, December 23, 2007

#16 Villanova vs Columbia

Score: Villanova 72, Columbia 56
Player of the Game: Scottie Reynolds 14 pts, 4 ast

Recap: Villanova improved its defense last night in its 72-56 victory over the Columbia Lions. Coming off of back-to-back 100+ point games the Wildcats did struggle offensively, going on a 7 minute stretch without a field goal. Once again they had difficulty guarding the opponent's best 3-point shooter' K.J. Matsui made 6 threes to finish with 19 points. Shane Clark led Nova with 15 points on 3-5 for three to go along with 3 rebounds and an assist. Scottie Reynolds added 14 points and 4 assists, but was 2-7 for three. Dante Cunningham had another big night on the boards with Casiem Drummond still out. Dante had 9 points and 12 rebounds, just missing another double-double by 1 point. Corey Fisher got the start and had 7 points and 5 assists, but he also had 4 turnovers. He didn't score much going 3-7 from the field, but the baskets he did make were pretty spectacular, especially the acrobatic lay-up he had at the end of the game. Fisher Price continues to toy with defenders with his sick crossover and superior ballhandling skills, making him one of the most exciting Wildcats to watch. Reggie Redding had a nice all-around game with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal , and 1 block. Antonio Pena had a good night off the bench scoring 9 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in only 16 minutes of action. Corey Stokes had 7 points and 5 rebounds and went 1-4 from 3-point range, making his first attempt but missing his next three. Malcolm Grant went 1-3 for three for his only 3 points of the game. Villanova's next game is next Saturday night against LaSalle in the Pavilion. The Wildcats should move up to #15 in the coaches poll this week with Clemson losing. This will be Nova's last non-conference game before opening Big East play versus DePaul.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

One and Done

This is the second year of the NBA's new policy of restricting the NBA Draft to players nineteen and older, causing many of the top high school players who would have gone straight to the pros to go to college for one year. Many people around college basketball think it is a great rule because the talented freshmen improve the college game. Freshmen sensations Greg Oden and Kevin Durant swept the nation with Oden leading Ohio State to the Championship game and Durant becoming the first freshman ever to win the national player of the year award. Oden and Durant went numbers one and two in the 2007 NBA Draft, and probably would have been the top two picks the year before if the new rule hadn't been passed.

Other critics claim that the new age restriction hurts college basketball and the NBA. All the top freshmen are “one and done”, just playing for one year then bolting for the NBA. This new “one and done” trend is related to the recent success of the mid-major conferences. It isn't so much that the mid-major teams have gotten better; the major conference teams have just gotten worse. The mid-majors don't get top recruits, but their players stay for all four years, and it is their experience that has made them so successful. For example, look at the 2006 NCAA Tournament and George Mason's upsets of North Carolina and UConn. George Mason was a team led by seniors and upperclassmen. They had been playing together for four years in Jim Larranaga's system. North Carolina won the Championship the year before, but they lost all their key players to the NBA: sophomores Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Sean May, and freshman Marvin Williams. North Carolina's 2006 team was led by freshman of the year Tyler Hansborough. UConn also had a young team led by Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Denham Brown, and Rashad Anderson who all left for the NBA after that season. If these top NBA-talented players stayed in school for three to four years, the mid-majors wouldn't have a chance because they would lose their advantage of experience.

The problem is that you have kids being forced to go to college even though they really don't want to be there. Dick Vitale proposed a rule to make players stay for at least three years. He includes an exception for extremely talented players like Kevin Garnett and LeBron James to go straight to the NBA out of high school. Jermaine O'Neal, who went straight to the NBA out of high school, has criticized the NBA's new rule, stating that racism was the reason why they implemented the age restriction in the NBA, but not in the MLB or NHL. However, the real reason for the rule isn't racism or providing kids an education; it's all about the money. Basketball and football are very popular collegiate sports, but nobody cares about college baseball or hockey. With NBA talent like Oden and Durant in college, ratings soared for college basketball, producing a lot of money for the networks. That's why there's an age restriction in the NFL. College football and basketball generate too much money, and if all the top talent jumped straight to the pros the college game would become irrelevant.

I think the rule is beneficial to the majority of high school prospects. Most players aren't like LeBron James, ready to lead an NBA team straight out of high school, and college gives them a chance to improve their game against better competition. Look at Syracuse's Paul Harris for example. He was likely to declare for the NBA draft until they made the new age restriction. In his freshman year he struggled, realizing he wasn't quite ready for the NBA. Now in his second year at Syracuse, he's improving dramatically. Although the rule benefits some, it should be removed. Inevitably a person should be able to do what they want. If they think they're ready to go to the NBA they should be able to, but as a college basketball fan I have to admit it's been fun watching these great freshman.

Friday, December 14, 2007

#18 Villanova vs. Hartford

Score: Villanova 103, Hartford 75
Player of the Game: Scottie Reynolds, 21 pts, 6 ast

Recap: All game long I was waiting for Villanova to go on a run, and it finally came midway through the second half. Villanova won 103-75, scoring 100+ points for the second straight game. Hartford played very tough and kept it close for most of the game. Once again the spurt came from an unexpected player, junior co-captain Dwayne Anderson. In only 11 minutes of action he scored 8 points on 4-4 shooting, had 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists. It was an overall balanced attack with 5 Wildcats scoring in double digits. Scottie Reynolds had a slow first half, but heated up in the second to finish with 21 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal. He was 4-7 for three and a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line. He showed great hustle diving into the stands for a loose ball. Dante Cunningham had another double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds to go along with 4 steals and a block. He had to pick up the slack in the frontcourt with center Casiem Drummond out with a foot injury. Corey Fisher got the start again and did not disappoint. He had 18 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals. He was 4-9 for 3-pt but 0-2 from the foul line. Shane Clark had another solid performance with 16 points and 5 rebounds. Malcolm Grant continued with his hot 3-point shooting off the bench going 4-5 and finished with 12 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds. Corey Stokes found a lot of open 3's but missed 7 of them going 2-9. He finished with 8 points. Reggie Redding had 3 points and 4 assists. Antonio Pena only played 9 minutes tonight and had 4 points, 3 rebounds. Andrew Ott and Frank Tchuisi played 2 minutes at the end of the game and failed to score. As a team Villanova was 15-33 from 3-point range, which is the most they've made this season. Former Wildcats Curtis Sumpter and Chris Charles were in attendance and received chants from the student section. The Wildcats next game is Saturday at 7:00 against Columbia.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

#21 Villanova vs. Temple

Score: Villanova 101, Temple 93

Player of the Game: Scottie Reynolds, 27 pts, 9 ast, 6 reb

Recap: Villanova won a record 13th straight over Big 5 opponents in their 101-93 victory over the Temple Owls tonight. The win makes Villanova 7-1 on the season. It was the first true road game for the Wildcats, and the large crowd and loud student section provided a hostile environment. Nova led by 3 points at halftime, with Temple's 3-pointers keeping them close, but pulled away in the second half thanks in large part to Scottie Reynolds. Reynolds followed up his poor shooting night against LSU with his best performance of the season. He had a season high 27 points and 9 assists on 8-12 shooting, 4-7 from three, and 7-7 from the free throw line. He also had 6 rebounds and 3 steals. He led the Wildcats' run scoring 20 of his points in the second half. In his second start of the season Corey Fisher led the first half charge scoring all of Villanova's first 10 points. He finished with 16 points and 5 assists. Antonio Pena had a very impressive game scoring a career high 17 points to go along with 4 rebounds, a steal , and a block in only 16 minutes of action. Many of his points came on dunks off of great passes from Nova's guards. He also showed his versatility by hitting a 3-pointer. Shane Clark looked like he was back to 100% health wise. He scored 17 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. Corey Stokes had his best game so far this season with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. He made both 3-pointers that he attempted, which is what fans have been expecting from him. Dante Cunningham had 7 points and 3 rebounds. The hero from last game Malcolm Grant only played 12 minutes, and scored 5 points with 1 assist. Interestingly he was fouled again attempting a 3-pointer after being fouled twice in last game's comeback while attempting 3's. Casiem Drummond came off the bench for the second game in a row but only played 6 minutes because he was in foul trouble much of the night. He finished with 2 points and 3 rebounds. Reggie Redding also got into some foul trouble and finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist. Temple had a balanced attack with 5 players in double figures, and started to make a comeback late in the second half but it was too little too late. Villanova's next game is 12/14 at the Pavilion against Hartford.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lowry just misses triple double

Kyle Lowry had 14 points, 9 assists, and 9 rebounds for the Memphis Grizzlies in last night's overtime loss to the New Orleans Hornets. He was 1 rebound and 1 assist short of a triple double. He also had 1 steal and 1 block after getting the first start of his NBA career with Damon Stoudamire out with a stomach virus. Lowry proved he could run the team as a starting PG in the league, but he still needs to work on his 3-point shot, as he went 0-4 from downtown in the game. His performance wasn't enough to win though as they lost 118-116 in overtime. Chris Paul had a great game for the Hornets with 43 points and 9 assists. Other people are starting to recognize Lowry's greatness. In his column Bill Simmons, "The Sports Guy", wrote "Reason No. 12,811 why I love the NBA: Lowry. I just love him. You'll see him on a great team at some point -- we're about two or three years away from the Spurs sneaking him onto their roster somehow." Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas also mentioned Lowry in his popular blog. "Then we go down to Memphis and they got that kid Navarro. Him and Lowry, they kicked our butts. We probably looked at them and took it lightly."

Friday, December 7, 2007

#21 Villanova vs. LSU

Score: Villanova 68, LSU 67

Player of the Game: Malcolm Grant, 18 pts

Recap: Wow. That's all I can say. LSU dominated almost the entire game, but Villanova came back to take its first lead of the game, off of a Dante Cunningham put-back to make it 68-67 with 5.9 seconds left. The epic 21 point comeback was led by freshman Malcolm Grant. He led all scorers with 18 points, all in the second half. He scored 13 points in the last 6 minutes. He was 3-4 for three and the only Wildcat to make a 3-pointer (3-9), and he also had a 4-point play, which was a key part of the comeback. He also went 9-10 from the foul line down the stretch. It was a sloppy first half for the Wildcats with A LOT of bad passes and Scottie Reynolds missed an open lay-up. LSU had 14 blocks in the game. Nova's guards kept trying to take it inside, but their two big men, Johnson and Randolph, were too talented at shot-blocking. It was like they thought they were playing Penn again, where they could go inside at will and score. They should have done more kick-outs to the open man or pull-up for mid-range jumpers. LSU also did a great job guarding the perimeter, as Villanova only attempted 2 threes in the first half. A key part in Nova's comeback was Randolph fouling out with 4 minutes left. With one of the shot blockers out it was easier for Nova to score inside.

Dante Cunningham played a great game and had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He also had 3 blocks, 2 steals, and an assist. He had 8 offensive rebounds. His biggest points of the game were the last two on his put back off of Grant's miss to win the game. That's the 2nd time this season he's had a tip-in to take the lead in the final seconds of the game, although they wound up losing to NC St. Casiem Drummond, coming off the bench for the first time this season, had a great first half scoring 10 of Villanova's 24 points. He was able to use his size and strength to score down low, but he saw limited playing time in the 2nd half. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher had horrible shooting nights, both going 1-8 from the field and 0-1 for three. Reynolds did contribute in other ways, grabbing 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and dishing 3 assists, to go with his season-low 4 points. Fisher had some amazing drives but tried to be too fancy and wound up missing a lot of difficult shots. He finished with 2 points and 3 assists. Antonio Pena got the start over Drummond. He only played 12 minutes but showed some flashes and scored 4 points. Reggie Redding also struggled shooting going 3-13, but he did have 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. In his first game back from injury Shane Clark was back in the starting lineup and had 6 points and 8 rebounds. He didn't take many shots and went 3-5 (0-1 3-pt). Corey Stokes played 9 minutes off the bench and failed to score, but had an assist and rebound.

So the big story of the game was Malcolm Grant taking over in the final minutes and just refusing to lose. The carried the team to an unprobable victory. The game appeared to be over, but Malcolm and the Wildcats played the full 40 minutes and it payed off. Up next for Villanova is at Temple on Sunday.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

More on NC St.

Here's a good article by Seth Davis on Sports about the ending of the NC State game and end-of-game foul calls in general.
He points out that the referee that called the foul wasn't even in position to make the call, and the referee who was did not call a foul. He also said that when there is a close controversial call in late game situations like that, referees should err on the side of a no-call.
I wouldn't be surprised if Dan Cristman was like Tim Donaghy, involved in fixing games.

# 21 Villanova vs Penn

Score: Villanova 87, Penn 61

Player of the Game
: Scottie Reynolds, 21 pts, 5 ast

: Villanova dominated every aspect of last night's game in their 87-61 victory over the Penn Quakers. The Wildcats were bigger, stronger, and faster and it showed in the 31 point halftime lead. Penn went on the win the 2nd half by 5 points, but Villanova's starters didn't play much in the second half, as Jay Wright used his bench, playing 5 freshmen at once at one point. Even walk-on Jason Colenda got minutes at the end of the game. Nova showed its dominance on the defensive end with 14 steals and caused 27 Penn turnovers, which led to easy fast break points.

Scottie Reynolds led the Wildcats with 21 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. Corey Fisher started in place of the injured Shane Clark and had 13 points, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 2 rebounds. Fisher ran the point most of the night, with Reynolds playing the shooting guard, and they really played well together. With Clark injured, Antonio Pena saw increases minutes, and he was very impressive. He had 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal. He was an efficient 3-4 from the field, 5-6 from the free throw line, and 1-1 from the 3-point line. I think Pena has a lot of potential, and will be an important part of the rotation in the future. Dante Cunningham had 10 points, 2 blocks, and a steal, although he failed to grab a rebound in 18 minutes of action. The big man Casiem Drummond had 5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. But he had a poor shooting night going 2-7 from the field and 1-4 from the free throw line. He missed some easy lay-ups and needs to learn to finish stronger at the hoop. Reggie Redding had 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. Malcolm Grant had 9 points and 3 assists off the bench, providing relief for Fisher at the point, although he fouled out late in the game. Corey Stokes again had a poor shooting night going 1-8 from the field and 0-4 for three to score 4 points. He did play good defense getting 2 steals and grabbing 5 boards. He needs to be more patient offensively. He came in by Jay Wright's admission as the best pure shooter he ever recruited, and it seems like Stokes tries to prove it by shooting very difficult shots. Some of the 3-pointers he's been taking have been deep in NBA range and others have been contested. He needs to wait for the easy open shot, then once he starts making those he'll have more confidence and be able to make the tougher shots. Dwayne Anderson had 1 point, 2 rebounds, and a block off the bench. Andrew Ott had 4 points and 5 rebounds, but he is still a work in progress. He looked clumsy and uncoordinated out there, bouncing an easy rebound off his legs out of bounds. It will be a while before he can really contribute to the team. Frank Tchuisi from Cameroon showed some athleticism tonight with a 2-handed dunk and a high-flying swat for a block, although it was called a goaltend.

The Wildcats next game is Thursday in the Big East/Sec Invitational at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. There is a double header with the first game being South Carolina vs. Providence and Villanova is playing in the second game vs. LSU at 9:30. LSU is in a down year, as they've lost most of their players from the Final Four team two years ago to graduation and the NBA, such as former lottery pick Tyrus Thomas, now playing for the Bulls, and Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who is a rookie on the Celtics. LSU is also missing a key player to injury, so it should be a fairly easy win for the Wildcats if they play "Villanova basketball".