Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nova Set For Marquette

: #25 Marquette Golden Eagles (11-2)

Recent History: Villanova is 6-5 all-time against Marqutte, but 1-2 since they've joined the Big East. With Tom Crean leaving for Indiana, this is Buzz Williams' first year as head coach. They are led by a trio of senior guards: Wesley Matthews (19.2 ppg), Jerel McNeal (17.1 ppg), and Dominic James (10.9 ppg, 5.2 apg). Forward Lazar Hayward is nearly averaging a double-double (17.2 ppg and 9.5 rpg). Marquette beat Nova 85-75 at the Wachovia Center last season. Villanova will need to take care of the ball against Marquette's quick guards. In last season's game Marquette had 15 steals and forced 23 turnovers.

Notable Win
: 61-58 vs. #22 Wisconsin

Notable Loss
: 80-68 vs. #19 Tennessee

Famous Alumni
: Chris Farley, Dwyane Wade, Sen. Joe McCarthy, Lawrence Frank, Rick Majerus, Doc Rivers, William Gates

Fun Facts:
  • Won NCAA championship in 1977
  • Nickname was changed from Warriors to Golden Eagles in 1994 because it was considered disrespectful to Native Americans.
  • Dwyane Wade led Marquette to a Final Four in 2003.
  • Wade is one of only three players to record a triple-double in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Marquette retired Wade's number in 2007 despite him never graduating from the school.
Complimentary Youtube Video: D-Wade college highlights...

Final Verdict: This is a good, experienced Marquette team, and they will be especially difficult to beat on the road. This will be Villanova's first true road test and it is uncertain how they will respond. Nova has the talent to win this game, but they will need to put together a complete game of Villanova Basketball, which they have had difficulty doing this year, even against weaker teams.

TV: ESPN2 2:30

: ESPN, VUhoops, IBBW, LGN

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lowry vs. Foye '08-'09: Part I

It took extra time to settle the first match-up of the 2008-2009 between former Villanova teammates Randy Foye and Kyle Lowry. This time Foye's Timberwolves came out on top at home 108-98.

Both former Wildcats played well.

Kyle Lowry had perhaps his best game all year with his first double-double of the season. Lowry had 14 points and a career-high 12 assists. Just like he did at Nova, Kyle scored most of his points from the free throw line, where he went a perfect 8-8. Lowry started at point guard and played 34 minutes, committing only 2 turnovers.

Randy Foye recently moved to the starting shooting guard position and has handled the transition well. He had 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in Minnesota's victory. Kevin McHale moved Randy to the 2 in an attempt to get him to be more aggressive offensively. It has seemingly worked as Foye is averaging 19.2 ppg over his last five games. In other news Randy grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds last week in Sacramento to accompany his 26 points. Hoopsworld recently caught up with Foye- check it out for an interesting read.

Olmos, But No Cigar- Nova Beats Temple

Final Score: #13 Villanova 62, Temple 45

Player of the Game: Corey Fisher: 23 points, 3 ast, 4 reb, 2 stl

Nova was really struggling offensively in the first. They were taking too many difficult shots and missing the easy ones as well. As a result Nova trailed by three at the half, and things didn't look too much better early in the second as Temple jumped out to an eight point lead. Then Corey Fisher took over. He reminded everybody that he was the same guy who scored 37 points on O.J. Mayo in high school. After struggling from the outside all season long, Fisher caught fire hitting 4 of 4 from downtown. He also did a great job driving to the basket, making a couple of his signature double-clutcher lay-ups. His 23 points were a season-high and tied his career-high. Fisher couldn't have picked a better time to break out of his slump as Big East play starts this week.

It Was a Cold Christmas

Nova did a good job containing high-scorer Dionte Christmas. The defense forced 15 misses from Christmas(4-19) , holding him to 13 points. Also cold were Scottie Reynolds and Corey Stokes. Scottie was 0-6 in the first half, although he did regroup in the second to finish with 8 points. Stokes on the other hand never got it going (1-7 fg, 0-3 3pt), and the one shot he made took a very lucky bounce high off the rim. He took some difficult shots and seemed to be forcing too much. Dante Cunningham scored 10 of Nova's 22 in the first, but he struggled in the second half. He scored 12 points total on 15 shots.

Other Notes
Antonio Pena had another strong night on the boards, grabbing a game-high 9, including 3 offensive.
Dwayne Anderson had a quiet night only playing 13 minutes, and uncharacteristically had no hustle stats. (0 reb, 0 stl, 0 blk)

Big 5 Champions
With the win, Villanova secures another Big 5 title. Nova has dominated the city series of late, winning 18 of their last 19 Big 5 games- the lone blemish coming last season against St. Joe's.

More: Official, Nova Notebook, VUhoops, IBBW, VBTN, LGN, ESPN: recap, ESPN: Dana O'Neil

Monday, December 29, 2008

Temple Preview

Foe: Temple Owls (5-5)

Recent History
: This is Villanova's final Big 5 game of the season. Nova has won the last three contests versus Temple and has a 41-39 all-time record against the Owls. Last year Nova won in a 101-93 shootout. Scottie Reynolds led the Wildcats with 27 points and 9 assists. Temple had three players with 20+ points, among those Dionte Christmas. Christmas has been lights out this season, averaging 20.8 points per game and shooting .417 3P%. He dropped 35 points in the upset over Tennessee, and Villanova will definitely need to focus their defense on him. Temple won the A-10 Tournament last year and lost to Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA's.

Notable Win
: 88-72 vs. #8 Tennesse

Notable Loss: 76-71 at Long Beach St.

Famous Alumni: Bill Cosby, Mardy Collins, Eddie Jones, Adam McKay, Aaron McKie, Bob Saget

Fun Facts:
  • They are called the Owls because Temple was originally a night school.
  • Temple won the first-ever National Collegiate championship in 1938.
  • Former coach John Chaney won 724 collegiate games in his career.

Complimentary Youtube Video

Final Verdict: Villanova is a better team and should win, but I suspect this will be a close game. Nova's defense will be much better this time around; I doubt the Owls will come anywhere close to the 93 points they put up on us last year.

TV: ESPNU 7:00

Links: VUHoops, Official, Villanova by the Numbers, AP

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Nova News Big East Power Poll #2

As non-conference play winds down, it's time for another NNBEPP to see where each team is before Big East play gets underway. Listen to what I say. Or you'll pay...

1. UConn (11-0)
UConn escaped Gonzaga in overtime despite Hasheem Thabeet fouling out in only 19 minutes of play. Maybe his performance suffered because he got contact-high from Josh Heytvelt.

2. Pitt (12-0)
With only Robert Morris left in February, I think it's safe to say Pitt will go undefeated in non-conference play.

3. Georgetown (9-1)
Have you ever noticed that Austin Freeman (6'5 sophomore SG) and Chris Wright (6'1 sophomore PG) are like the bizarro versions of Corey Stokes (6'5 sophomore SG) and Corey Fisher (6'1 sophomore PG).

4. Notre Dame (9-2)

The Tyler Hansborough of the Big East only missed 2 games from pneumonia and is now back to getting 22 and 12 every night.

5. Villanova (11-1)
I'm still not sure where this team ranks with the rest of the Big East. We will soon find out.

6. Syracuse (12-1)
Cleveland St. beats Syracuse, Syracuse beats Memphis, and Eric Devendorf beats women.

7. Louisville (8-2)
It wasn't as embarrassing as WKU, but the Cardinals dropped another game, this time to Minnesota. They were ranked too high preseason at #3, but this team should still be playing better.

8. Marquette (11-2)
Marquette's final game before starting Big East play is the against the Presbyterian Blue Hose, which might be the best team name ever.

9. West Virginia (10-2)
In case you were wondering what ever happened to Kevin Pitsnoggle:
"wuttup playin for the pittsburgh cba team now ..but i will never forget who all got me to this point and wut WVU did for me and my family..THANK YOU the best three point shooter in school history...i am married to a beautiful woman named Heather and have a brand new boy named Kwynsie."

10. Cincinnati (10-2)
Are you ready for the Yancy Gates era?

11. Seton Hall (9-3)
Jeremy Hazell can dazzle: 22.4 ppg with three 30+ point games.

12. Rutgers (9-3)
Rutgers is averaging 8.7 blocks per game... How is this even possible? For comparison Villanova is averaging 2.8.

13. St. John's (9-3)
What is a Red Storm? Raindrops of blood?

14. Providence (8-4)
There's just nothing interesting to say about this team.

15. DePaul (8-5)
See Providence.

16. South Florida (5-7)
Once again, you can't complain when you're living here...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nova Avoids Drowning vs. Navy

Final Score: #16 Villanova 78, Navy 68

Player of the Game
: Dante Cunningham: 24 pts, 10 reb

Recap: Villanova won by ten points, but this game was a lot closer than expected. Navy was down by three with two and a half minutes remaining until Nova was able to pull it out down the stretch. For more on the game let's look at some pictures and captions...

"Come take a seat on my back youngin'."
Another big game for a big time player. Dante Cunningham had another double-double with 24 points (11-18 FG) and 10 rebounds. This was his fifth double-double (and fourth 20 and 10) of the season. Dante's biggest improvement this season has been his mid-range jumper, where he's been automatic.

"Hey, somebody guard that #1 guy!"
Scottie Reynolds tied his season-high with 23 points, hitting 4 of 9 shots from downtown. Scottie and Dante were the only Wildcats that were hot tonight. Corey Stokes had an off-night going 3-12 from the field (1-5 3PT), although he still managed to score 11 points.

"Take him out by the legs!"
Chris Harris was the reason Navy was able to stay in this game. He was sick from outside, knocking down 8 of 10 threes to score 30 points. Luckily, Villanova was able to hold him to only two 3-pointers in the second half.

"Damn, you're short."
Antonio Pena took advantage of his size tonight. He had career-highs in rebounds (12) and blocks (3). He also chipped in 7 points and 4 assists, and he hit some clutch free throws at the end of the game.

"High five!"

This game shouldn't have been so close, but a win is a win. Sometimes players have hot shooting nights and there's nothing you can do about it. The 68 points Nova gave up tie their season-high, which is not bad, although they haven't really played an offensive powerhouse yet. It will be interesting to see if they can keep up the good 'D' in Big East play.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nova vs. Navy

Foe: Navy Midshipmen (8-3)

Recent History: Navy is led by head coach Billy Lange, a former Jay Wright assistant at Villanova. Villanova's last contest against Navy was in 2006-2007 when the Wildcats won 7o-61 at the Pavilion. Nova is 3-5 all-time versus Navy, with all the losses taking place before World War II.

Notable Win: 76-65 at Penn

Notable Loss: 86-68 at Towson

Famous Alumni: David Robinson, Ross Perot, Alan Sheppard, Jimmy Carter

Fun Facts:
  • Participation in athletics is mandatory at the Naval Academy
  • Graduates are required to serve a minimum of five years
  • David Robinson was excused after two years of service to enter the NBA

Complimentary Youtube Video: The Admiral...

TV: None - available online via Nova Nation All-Access

Friday, December 19, 2008

NBA Update

Lowry Starting
Kyle Lowry has been sharing point guard duties with Mike Conley all season long. Lowry recently won over the starting position, although he and Conley still tend to play half the game each. Lowry's scoring is down almost 3 points from last year, which can be attributed to the addition of O.J. Mayo in the backcourt, who is averaging over 20 ppg.
Season Averages: Points - 6.9, Rebounds - 2.3, Assists - 3.6
Season Highs: Points - 17, Rebounds - 6, Assists - 7

Foye Struggling
Randy Foye is averaging career-highs in points (13.3) and assists (5.4), but his FG% (.389) and 3PT% (.243) are way down. It's a tough situation for Randy in Minnesota right now with his second head coach in three years recently getting fired.
Season Averages: Points - 13.3, Rebounds - 2.9, Assists - 5.4
Season Highs: Points - 26, Rebounds - 5, Assists - 14

Thomas Thriving
Tim Thomas is enjoying his return to New York and playing under Mike D'Antoni. Since the trade his FG% (.43), 3PT% (.41) , FT% (.84), and scoring (11.3) have all gone up. His 3-point percentage increased over 11% and he is attempting and making more than double the amount of threes per game than he was in L.A.
Season Averages: Points - 10.5, Rebounds - 4.1, Assists - 1.1
Season Highs: Points - 26, Rebounds - 11, Assists - 4

Allen Injured
Malik Allen has missed the past few games with sore ribs and is listed as day-to-day. He started 3 games this year, but Malik has mostly provided spot minutes off the bench.
Season Averages: Points - 3.0, Rebounds - 2.1, Assists - 0.6
Season Highs: Points - 10, Rebounds - 5, Assists - 2

Drummond to Marist

VUHoops reported that Casiem Drummond will transfer to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The Red Foxes play in the MAAC. Good luck to the big fella.

Here's a look back at the highlights of Drummond's career at Villanova:

Career Highs
Points: 11 (2/2/08 vs. Syracuse)
Rebounds: 17 (11/25/07 vs. NC St.)
Assists: 3 (11/25/07 vs. NC St.)
Blocks: 2 (3 times)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Explorers Get Lost vs. Nova

Final Score: #12 Villanova 70, La Salle 59

Player of the Game: Corey Stokes: 18 points (4-7 3pt)

: Corey Stokes helped take control of this one early with 14 points off of 4 threes in the first half. Nova led throughout and were never really threatened by La Salle. Stokes finished with a game-high 18 points. Corey S. makes it look so easy; he can be a real game changer with his 3-point shooting.

Fisher the Disher

Corey Fisher broke out of his funk with a good all-around effort. He looked confident right out of the gate by hitting a couple of jump shots to score 8 points total for the game. He had more points in his first minute off the bench than he had in his previous two games combined. More impressively, he had 6 assists to 1 turnover. I really like Fisher running the point with Scottie playing off the ball.

Captain Scoot
Scottie Reynolds was second in scoring with 13 points. He hit three 3-pointers of his own to help the team shoot 50% (8-16) from behind the arc. He missed two free throws, but that's OK... we know he makes 'em when they count.

Triple Threat
Antonio Pena contributed in three main areas: scoring (5 points), rebounding (6), and passing (6 assists). I've always liked his passing skills for a big man. He also had a blocked shot. Kudos to 'Tone for staying out of foul trouble for 4 straight games.

Dante Cunningham came close to a five-by-five with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 steals, and 2 assists. He filled the stat sheet, but his points and rebounds were down because he picked up 2 quick fouls, limiting him to 7 minutes in the first half.

Other Notes
Shane Clark had a season-high 7 rebounds to go along with 6 points, a block, and a steal. He looked good, and we really need him at full strength this year with such a thin front court.

Reggie Redding (7 pts), Dwayne Anderson (2 pts), and Frank Tchuisi (2 pts) rounded out the scoring for the game.

Yes, La Salle isn't exactly a Mike D'Antoni caliber offense, but still it was another stellar defensive performance by the Wildcats, who haven't given up more than 68 points in a single game all season.

Nova had 20 assists on 27 made field goals and only 8 turnovers. Sharing is caring!

The game was a sellout, but that was a pretty poor turnout by the "Explorer Entourage". They're on semester break, but c'mon...

We get it. You have a doctorate in sports psychology, but do you really need to remind us all the time by going by Doctor John Giannini. It's just rubbing it in at this point.

**** Video Highlights **** Box Score ****

Exploring La Salle

Foe: La Salle (4-3)

Recent History
: Villanova is 31-26 all-time versus Big 5 opponent La Salle. Nova has won the past six games between the teams. Last year Nova was led by great guard play from Reynolds (19 pts) and Fisher (18 pts), as well as a double-double (12-12) from Dante Cunningham to defeat La Salle 71-58 in the Pavilion. The Explorers are led this year by a trio of juniors: Rodney Green (13.9 ppg), Kimmani Barrett (12.6 ppg), and Yves Mekongo Mbala (11.3 ppg).

Notable Win: 75-70 vs. Valparaiso

Notable Loss
: 89-81 vs. #2 UConn

Famous Alumni: Rasual Butler, Joe "Kobe's dad" Bryant, Tom Gola, Tim Legler, Bill Raftery, A.J. Dualerio

Fun Facts:
  • Their nickname derives from a sportswriter mistakenly thinking the school was named after the French explorer Sieur de La Salle, while it is actually named after St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle.
  • Won NCAA Championship in 1954.
  • La Salle has had 3 National Players of the Year, second only to Duke's 7.

Complimentary Youtube Video:

I love La Salle because of the academy award-worthy acting in their commercials.
... and I love La Salle because they are an automatic win every year.

Final Verdict: This is only Villanova's second road game of the season, with both being played in Philadelphia. La Salle is improving, but they should be no match for Nova as the Wildcats move to 3-0 in the Big 5 and 10-1 overall.

TV: ESPNU, 7:00 PM

Links: Official, La Salle, AP, VBTN,

Friday, December 12, 2008

We Got Cheek

Dominic Cheek announced at a press conference that he will attend Villanova University. Cheek is ranked by ESPN as the #11 player in the class of 2009 and the #3 shooting guard. He chose Nova over defending champions Kansas, Memphis, Pitt, and Rutgers. This is a huge get for Jay Wright and Nova, especially after losing out on Tyreke Evans last year. Cheek may be a better recruit than Evans because Cheek is expected to stay in school for more than one year.

Cheek is from St. Anthony High School in New Jersey. Here is a great video that documents his life from growing up on the streets of Jersey City to becoming a basketball star.

Cheek joins Maalik Wayns (ESPNU #22), Mouphtaou Yarou (#27), and Isaiah Armwood (#35), who are already commited for the class of 2009. His decision will most likely boost Villanova's already consensus top-10 national recruiting class to #1. This a balanced class (2 guards, 2 forwards) that may turn out to be Villanova's best ever. When you throw in transfer Taylor King, it's just icing on the cake.

Looking ahead to 09-10
Nova may return to the 4-guard lineup next year because they'll have some bigger guards (Cheek 6'5, King 6'6, Stokes 6'5) who can play in the front court. The only "problem", if you can consider it a problem, is that the team will have too many weapons.

Here's a look at the projected depth chart:
PG: Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns
SG: Dominic Cheek, Corey Stokes, Reggie Redding
SF: Taylor King, Isaiah Armwood
PF/C: Antonio Pena, Mouphtaou Yarou, Maurice Sutton

That is a complete team. Plenty of depth at every position. The Foye/Ray/Sumpter/Fraser class received lots of hype as well, but they struggled their first two years together. However, with Nova being a top-25 team this year and with talented veterans already on the team, they won't have to rely too much on the freshmen, which should help in their transition and development. The bottom line is that Jay Wright has done a fantastic job recruiting since the day he walked on campus, and has helped restore Villanova as a national powerhouse.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nova Beats St. Joe's in Thriller

Final Score: #12 Villanova 59, St. Joe's 56

Player of the Game: Scottie Reynolds: 18 pts, 6 ast

Recap: Wow, what a game! St. Joe's dominated the first half, but Nova came back to win in the final seconds in a thriller at the Pavilion. Villanova looked tired in the first half; they were giving up easy backdoor layups and dunks and the offense looked very stagnant. They had no answer for Nivins (16 pts) inside and Govens (18 pts) outside. Nova really turned it up defensively in the second half. They did a good job forcing turnovers to get back into the game to set up for the wild finish.
Lucky 21
This was Villanova's 21st straight win in the Pavilion, and they had luck on their side tonight. After coming up empty on offense, Nova was forced to foul, down by one with the shot clock turned off. Luckily, St. Joe's missed the first free throw, and Nova got the rebound and called time out to set up a play.

Ice Man
Jay Wright put the ball in his star guard's hands to create something to win the game. Scottie Reynolds drove to the basket and got the foul call. Scottie had ice water in his veins, hitting two huge free throws to tie the game and take the lead by one. Scottie looked a lot better overall tonight, finishing with 18 points and 6 assists.

Unlikely Hero
Reggie Redding, known for his defense, surprisingly hit two key jumpers down the stretch. It was nice to see him confident on the offensive end. However, under a minute, down by one he forced up a shot and missed, when Scottie or Dante should have been taking the shot in that situation. He only had 6 points, but they were 6 big points that helped save the game.

Pocket Thief
St. Joe's still had a chance, down one with 2.5 seconds left. They tried a long inbounds pass, but Dante Cunningham came up with the steal to save the game. He then hit two free throws to go up by 3. Dante had another solid night with 14 points but was a little quiet on the glass with only 4 rebounds.

Dwayne Anderson looks like he's just about back to 100%. He had a season-high 10 points, including a late 3-pointer to tie the game at 41 and a monster baseline dunk for an and-1. He looked like his old-self of last season; sacrificing his body, diving into the stands for loose balls.

Gone Fishin'
The two Coreys were no-shows tonight. Fisher was 0-3 from the field, with 2 points, 2 assists, and 3 turnovers. This is the second game in a row that he looked lost on offense; uncomfortable with the ball and hesitant to shoot outside. Stokes hit an early three, but couldn't get on the floor in the second half. I didn't notice anything specific, but Jay Wright must have been unhappy with his defense. It's a shame because even though they pulled out the victory, Villanova could have used his shooting.

Other Notes
After only playing 9 minutes against Texas, Antonio Pena played 30 tonight. His scoring was down (4 points), but he was strong on the boards with 8 rebounds. His size helped Cunningham in containing Nivins in the second half. Shane Clark had a quiet night: 2 points, 3 rebounds in 15 minutes.

News Flash: Early reports have Dominic Cheek commmiting to Villanova. More here when it becomes official...

Holy War Tonight

Foe: St. Joseph's Hawks (4-4)

History: The annual Holy War between local schools Villanova and St. Joe's is an intense long-lasting rivalry. Nova is 41-24 all-time versus the Hawks. St. Joe's 77-55 win last year was Nova's low point of the season. St. Joe's went on to the NCAA Tournament as an 11-seed and lost to 6-seed Oklahoma in the first round. They lost star Pat Calathes to graduation and are led by senior forward Ahmad Nivins (19.1 ppg, 11.4 rpg) this year.

Notable Win: 80-54 at Indiana

Notable Loss: 68-50 vs. Texas

Famous Alumni: Jameer Nelson, Delonte West, Jamie Moyer

Fun Facts:
  • The Hawk mascot continuously waves his arms the entire game.
  • Went undefeated in the regular season (27-0) in 2003-04.

Complimentary Youtube Video: I was going to post the video of the Villanova fan who hit the half court shot at the Pavilion to win a car, then proceeded to taunt St. Joe's mascot, but it seems to have disappeared from Youtube. You'll have to settle for this.

Final Verdict: Coming off a tough loss to Texas, Villanova should come out strong tonight, looking to blowout the Hawks. Nova is back at home in the Pavilion, and although Holy War games are always tough, I expect a W.

TV: ESPN2 @ 8:00 PM

Links: Official, VUHoops, St. Joe's, AP

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Texas Ends Nova's Unbeaten Streak

Final Score: #6 Texas 67, #12 Villanova 58

Player of the Game: A.J. Abrams: 26 pts, 4 ast

Recap: Villanova lost its first game of the season last night to #6 Texas at Madison Square Garden.

What happened to all the balanced scoring? The only Wildcat to show up last night (besides Stephen Curry) was Dante Cunningham. Dante had a huge double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds, but he couldn't carry the team by himself.

Scottie Reynolds had somewhat decent stats (10 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds), but he played very poorly. He was out of control with the ball and even fell to the floor unprovoked several times. It was really out of character for him. Maybe he was just a little too tired with the late start time (game ended after midnight).

Corey Stokes hit a couple 3-pointers early and had a quick 9 points. It looked like he would have a big game, but he disappeared for the rest of night. He missed 5 threes and didn't scored again until the final minutes to finish with 11 points.

It says in the box score that Corey Fisher played 18 minutes tonight, but I didn't know it by watching the game. He was nonexistent, 0-5 from the field, 0 points, 1 assist. We need more from Fish, especially when Scottie's having a bad night.

I don't know what happened to Antonio Pena. He only played 9 minutes, barely any of them coming in the second half. His only contributions to the game were two missed free throws, two turnovers, and a personal foul. Perhaps there was some kind of health issue keeping off the floor, but Nova really could have used his size in the second half.

Redding, Anderson, and Clark were the three players off the bench to fill out the rotation last night. They received a lot of playing time together in the second half, and I think it cost Villanova the game. Redding and Anderson are two of Nova's best defenders, but the three of them hurt the team on the offensive end. I can't tell you how many open shots they passed up, causing Nova to take bad contested shots late in the shot clock. At least Dwayne Anderson was back from injury, and like last season, was strong on the boards with 9 rebounds.

Villanova out-rebounded Texas 35-31, which is a deceiving stat because Texas got every big rebound, offensive and defensive, late in the second half.

Villanova lost by 9 points and coincidentally missed 9 free throws. The poor free throw shooting really hut Nova, especially considering that they missed several front ends of the 1-and-1.

It was a bad loss, but there are some good things to take from this game. First, despite how poorly Villanova played, they were still right in it until the last couple minutes. Better execution down the stretch and they actually could have won the game. Second, they got valuable experience against a top-ten team, which will pay dividends come Big East play. If this team were playing at its best, which hopefully they will do sooner than later, they definately could have won that game. So even though they lost, it seems as though Nova will be able to hang with the best in the country this year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

#6 Texas vs. #12 Nova

Tonight is the game we've all been waiting for. Nova's marquee non-conference opponent of the season.  The #6 Texas Longhorns versus your #12 Villanova Wildcats.   From Madison Square Garden in New York, for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching around the world, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let's get ready to rumble!

Texas is a goooood team.  Despite losing players annually to the NBA (LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustine), Rick Barnes has been able to keep his program at an elite level. This year they are led by senior guard A.J. Abrams. They also have a solid point guard in Justin Mason, and a great swingman in Damion James, and two 6'10ers in Connor Atchley and Dexter Pittman. 

These teams match up well, and on paper they seem pretty even.  Texas' biggest advantage is that they are battle-tested with a win over #9 UCLA and a close loss to #8 Notre Dame.  The Wildcats should be the crowd favorite because of the large number of Villanova alumni in the New York area (myself included).  Nova is also familiar with the Garden from the Big East Tournament.

Not to put too much pressure on them, but this is Villanova's only chance to prove what they've got and pad their tournament resume in non-conference play. So let's do it. Do it.

Preview links: VUH, VTBN, IBBW, LGN, Villanova, Texas, AP, Texas blog

Monday, December 8, 2008


Nova News Big East Power Poll 1st Edition

1. UConn - 8-0
Hasheem Thabeet has been a monster, even without the cornrows. The 7'3 center is averaging 14.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.1 blocks. With wins over Miami and Wisconsin, this team is loaded and will get even better when Stanley Robinson returns from injury. I'll ignore the close call to Buffalo for now.

2. Pitt
- 9-0
Pitt's teams are always boring and this one is no exception. Yet they're in the top 25 every year despite not having any top NBA talent.

3. Louisville
- 4-1
Like Nova they've had an easy early season schedule, but unlike Nova they LOSE at HOME by DOUBLE DIGITS to WESTERN KENTUCKY without COURTNEY LEE. I CAN'T STOP USING CAPITALS!!! I don't know if they deserve this ranking, but they're just too deep and talented to drop any further.

4. Notre Dame
- 6-2
Harangody has pneumonia, but the Irish might not need him with the way Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers are shooting the ball. McAlarney hit 26 threes in three consecutive games, including 10 against the ridiculously good Tar Heels, who might actually go undefeated this season.

5. Your Villanova Wildcats
- 8-0
I can't wait for the showdown with Texas on Tuesday. Let's see what this team is made of.

7. Georgetown
- 5-1
Greg Monroe seems poised to grab the torch from Roy Hibbert and continue in the tradition of great Hoya centers.

6. Syracuse
- 8-0
The Orange had impressive wins over Florida and Kansas. Devendorf and Rautins are back, Johnny Flynn has been awesome, but it still feels like they're missing something...

8. Marquette
- 7-1
Obviously Indiana is one of the premier coaching opportunities in the country, but don't you think Tom Crean wishes he had one more year with this team of James, Matthews, McNeal, and Hayward.

9. West Virginia
- 6-1
Joe Alexander should have stayed in school another year, but I guess you can't blame him for leaving early... he's making $2.4 million more than me this year.

10. Seton Hall
- 6-1
The Pirates had a nice win over the "post-Mayo" USC, and their only loss is to the "current-Tyreke Evans" Memphis.

11. Cincinnati
- 6-1
The Bearcats on the right path back to national prominence with a great freshmen class, but Cashmere Wright's injury may have killed their season. This team could be very dangerous in the future though.

12. DePaul - 4-2
Dar Tucker is a stud (20+ ppg), but the Blue Demons were held to 36 points at Northwestern in an embarrassing loss.

13. St. John's - 6-1
They're only loss is to BC, but Anthony Mason Jr. is out for the season. At least they're still in the running for Lance Stevenson.

15. Providence
- 6-3
Looks like it will be a long season at the Dunkin Donuts Center for new head coach Keno Davis.
14. Rutgers
- 5-3
Former Nova assistant Fred Hill is nabbing some big time recruits (Mike Rosario, Greg Echenique), but the Scarlet Knights already have home losses to St. Bonaventure, Lehigh, and Binghamton.
16. South Florida
- 3-3
Hey, at least they get to live in South Florida.