Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Player of the Game: Dominic James 25 pts, 6 stl, 4 ast
Villanova Player of the Game: Dante Cunningham 13 pts, 11 reb, 2 blk, 2 stl, 1 ast
Recap: Villanova led 39-32 at halftime, but Marquette guard Dominic James took over in the second half to lead the Golden Eagles to a 85-75 victory. James had an efficient 25 points on 9-13 from the field, and he made five 3-pointers. I have to give credit Maquette's defense as well. They played scrappy tenacious defense leading to 15 steals and forced a season-high 23 Villanova turnovers. Marquette also played great perimeter defense, holding Nova to 2-15 for three. Marquette on the other hand shot 10-23 from behind the arc. After holding their opponents to an average of 54 points over the past four games, Villanova had a defensive collapse in the second half, giving up 53 points en route to 85 total for the Golden Eagles. In the end, Maquette's experience and toughness overpowered Villanova. This is a very good Marquette team, similar to Villanova's 2005-06 guard-centered team, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Some silver linings of the game:
- Corey Fisher had a career-high 8 assists. He also had 10 points and 4 rebounds, but was 5-15 from the field.
- Dante Cunningham had his fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but had 6 turnovers.
- Corey Stokes scored in double figures for the fourth straight game with 13 points, but only had 2 points in the second half.
- Scottie Reynolds led the team with 14 points, but was only 1-5 for three. He had 3 assists, but 6 turnovers.
- Dwayne Anderson nearly had a double-double with 8 points and 8 boards. Dwayne also had an amazing put-back dunk off of a Corey Fisher missed lay-up.
- Antonio Pena continues to pass well for a big man. He chipped in 3 assists and 8 points, but he should be grabbing more than 4 rebounds.
- Villanova out-rebounded Marquette 38-26.
- Villanova shot 85% from the free throw line (17-20).
- Villanova wore their throwback uniforms for the third straight game, perhaps hoping they would continue their stellar play from the previous two games they wore them. However, with the loss I suspect it will be the last time they wear them this season.
- On the Villanova post-game radio show they compared Corey Fisher to Randy Foye during his first two seasons. Like Randy, Fisher is able to create his own shot whenever he wants to, but he is struggling to make those shots. Foye struggled the same way during his first two seasons at Villanova, but during his junior and senior years those shots began to fall for him. Eventually Corey will learn to make those shots as well, and in a couple of years he, like Randy, could be an All-Big East player.
- This loss is a setback for Villanova's NCAA tournament hopes, but they have a chance for a big road victory this weekend against Louisville. The Cardinals are in my opinion the best team in the Big East, and I expect it to be a hard-fought game in a very tough environment.
Next Game: Sun. March 2, 4:00 pm at #18 Louisville
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Grant: "People were telling me that, and I was laughing, like, 'Are you serious?' People were saying, 'Your grades,' or 'You were talking back to Coach,' all this and that. I'm laughing like it's crazy, but that's college. You live through it and you block that stuff out."
"It's been tough, but I just stay positive. My teammates have spoken to me, telling me to stay positive and that they need me out there. I just try to give positive energy to the team. If I don't play, then it's the coach's decision. I know he knows what's best for the team."
"I want to improve my defense... I knew coming in I was the underdog and I had to prove myself. I used that as motivation."
"I haven't gotten into trouble. I haven't done anything wrong in school. I'm doing excellent in school. I haven't talked back to my teacher. I haven't done any of that. It's crazy."
Jay Wright: "It's just that we've struggled playing young, small guards together. That wasn't something we anticipated, but it's become a problem for us. I think when those guys are older, they're going to be able to do it better."
I understand Jay's reasoning, but the situation still seems skeptical to me. If there was no deliberate reason for benching Grant, why wouldn't Wright play him in the Georgetown game when Corey Fisher was struggling (1-16 fg). They were just one Malcolm Grant 3-pointer away from winning the game. Also why wouldn't he play Grant more than one minute in the St. Joseph's game when everybody was struggling. At least Malcolm is staying positive through all of it.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Co-Players of the Game: Scottie Reynolds (18 pts) and Corey Stokes (18 pts)
Recap: Top 10 Moments from the Game
10. Dante Cunningham's fast break dunk that helped Nova jump out to an early 14-2 lead. They led by as many as 15 in the first half. More on Dante later...
9. The crowd as the sixth man. The Wachovia Center crowd stayed loud throughout the game, and helped motivate the team to play hard. The student section was full of "UCONN, UCAN'T" posters.
8. Dwayne Anderson. What more can you say about the guy. He does a little bit of everything. He had 5 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 assists. His time was somewhat limited today because of foul trouble, but his energy, rebounding, defensive intensity, and leadership have been a huge part of the team's recent success. It also helps when he's knocking down threes (1-3 today).
7. Holding Thabeet in check. He was only 2-3 from the field and although he had 10 rebounds, Thabeet was below his average with only 3 blocks today.
6. Antonio Pena filling in for Casiem Drummond. With Drummond out injured again, Pena got some extra minutes and played well. He had 10 points and 5 rebounds, and he did a decent job defending Thabeet.
5. Corey "Strokes'" third straight game with a career-high in scoring. He made 4 of 7 three-pointers to score 18 points. Beside hitting threes, Stokes showed the ability to drive to the basket and hit mid-range shots as well.
4. Scottie Reynolds stepping it up in the second half with 15 points. Overall he had 18 points and 4 assists on 7-14 shooting and 4-8 from three. Scottie's drive and lay-up over Hasheem Thabeet to give the Cats a 4 point lead with 39 seconds remaining was a key to the victory.
3. A.J. Price missing his first of two free throws with 6.4 seconds left. He could have tied the game at 66, and the game may have gone to overtime. Instead he missed, leaving UConn down by one and forced to foul.
2. Dante Cunningham saving the day with the offensive rebound off of his own missed free-throw with 4.9 seconds left and Villanova up by one. Dante had a great all-around game with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists, and 1 block.
1. Jay Wright finally getting his team to play "Villanova Basketball". This young Wildcats team has bought into Jay's program, and they are playing their best basketball at the right time of the season.
Next Game: Mon. Feb. 25, 7:00 pm, vs. Marquette, at the Wachovia Center
Friday, February 22, 2008
Curtis Sumpter has joined the French team JA Vichy. (translation)
Sumpter signed with the German team Köln 99ers over the summer, but broke his contract in October because of family reasons.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Player of the Game: Dwayne Anderson - 17 points (5-7 3pt)
Recap: Wearing their classic throwback jerseys, Villanova cruised to its fourteenth straight victory in the Pavilion tonight. The Wildcats are peaking late in the season. They are playing their best defense of the season, thanks in a large part to Dwayne Anderson. He has been the reason Villanova won three of its last four and nearly upset
After sitting out the previous game, Shane Clark looked much better tonight. He had 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 14 minutes of action.
Next Game: Sat. Feb. 23, at Noon, vs. UConn, at the Wachovia Center
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
"The Grizzlies admit they'll move a point guard, most likely Kyle Lowry, leaving Mike Conley and Javaris Crittendon in Memphis. The Bulls pursued Lowry in the 2006 draft."
"According to media reports, the Portland Trail Blazers are shopping point guard Jarrett Jack, and the Memphis Grizzlies have taken offers for point guard Kyle Lowry. The Cavs have interest in both. A source said they have had long-term discussions involving Jack. In 2006, they coveted Lowry in the draft, but he went with the 24th pick to the Grizzlies, one spot ahead of where the Cavs picked Shannon Brown."
"Here's a couple more point guards who have been on the Cavaliers' radar for more than a year: Portland's Jarrett Jack and Memphis' Kyle Lowry. Problem is, neither can shoot a lick. Both are losing out in a numbers game -- Portland also has Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez; Memphis Mike Conley, Javaris Crittenton and Juan Carlos Navarro -- and the Cavs actually have the expiring contracts to land them."
"Who can blame Kyle Lowry for being down? Grizzlies drafted at his position (Mike Conley) and then got a bigger point guard (Javaris Crittenton) than both in the Gasol sale."
"Among players the Heat has been linked to in trade talks are Warriors forward Mickael Pietrus,
The Jason Kidd deal is finally official. Former Wildcat forward Malik Allen will join Kidd and Antoine Wright in Dallas, in exchange for Devin Harris, DeSanga Diop, Trenton Hassel, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn, 2 first round picks, and $3 million. Malik averaged 5.4 points and 2.7 rebounds for the New Jersey Nets this season. This will be the fifth different team the 29 year-old Allen has played for in his seven year career in the NBA.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Player of the Game: Corey Stokes, 13 pts, 5 reb
Recap: Villanova got out to a quick start with a 16-2 run and never looked back. They followed up their best defensive effort of the season against Georgetown with an even better performance tonight. They held the Red Storm to 42 points (13 in the first half) and 26% shooting. It was tough to pick a player of the game because the scoring was so balanced, and Stokes, Anderson, and Cunningham were all worthy. So for the rest of the game recap I'll hand out awards, Bill Simmons style.
The Ben Gordon Award for "Saving your best games for the Garden"
Corey Stokes had the best game of his young career tonight with 13 points under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. He was considered by many scouts as one of the best shooters in the country coming out of high school and was a McDonald's All-American, but he has struggled shooting most of the season. He was 4-7 from the field, 3-5 for three and 2-2 from the free throw line. Stokes seems to have found his confidence and is heating up from behind the arc, shooting 38% over the last eight games.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Addition Award for "Most pleasant sight of the game"
Seeing Malcolm Grant back on the court in the regular rotation was a major relief. He didn't have a great night (2 pts, 1 ast), but this should put an end to transfer speculations. He appears to have served his time for whatever reason Jay was benching him.
The Michael Myers Award for "Scariest moment of the game"
This goes to that scary moment in the second half when Scottie Reynolds twisted his ankle and left the court in pain. He never returned after playing 21 minutes and notching 6 points and 2 assists. Scottie wanted to return, and Jay Wright said he would have put him back in if the game got close. He should be ready to go versus West Virginia on Wednesday.
The Roger Clemens' Wife Used HGH, but He Didn't Award for "Biggest surprise of the season"
Dwayne Anderson has surprised many fans with his recent surge in production. He had another good night, recording a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Dwight Howard Award for "Dunk of the night"
Although they weren't as amazing as Dwight's from the NBA slam dunk contest, Dante Cunningham had a couple throw-downs tonight. Dante is probably the best dunker on the team. He was the Wildcats' second-leading scorer tonight with 12 points.
The Charles Oakley Award for "Most intimidating hard foul of the game"
This one goes to Casiem Drummond for his hard foul along the baseline. The play before it, one of the St. John's players was complaining about a no-call when he felt Drummond fouled him. The next play Casiem sent a message by showing him what a real foul is. As the St. John's player drove the baseline Drummond stepped in, and the St. John's player ran into him then went flying to the floor, as if he ran into a brick wall.
The Al Borland Award for "Handyman of the game"
Antonio Pena did a little bit of everything tonight. He scored 4 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, led the team in assists with 3, and had 2 blocks. Although I'd like to see more scoring from Pena, he had an all-around solid game.
The Flash Award for "Quickest appearance of the night"
This one goes to Frank Tchuisi for his one minute of action at the end of the game. If you weren't paying attention, you may have missed him. He missed one shot in his short time on the court.
Next Game: Wed. Feb. 20, 8:00 pm, vs. West Virginia, at the Pavilion
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Kyle Lowry had a good night in a return to his hometown of Philadelphia to play the 76ers. It was his first time playing in an NBA game there because he was injured last season during Memphis' only trip to Philly. With rumors of a possible trade, Kyle came out and played hard off the bench. He had 15 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds. He was 4-8 from the field, 3-5 for three, and a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line. His homecoming was spoiled however, as his Grizzlies fell short to the Sixers 102-88. Although Mike Conley got the start, Lowry earned 39 minutes, while Conley only played 9.
Randy Foye had a season-high 18 points in the Timberwolves' 117-92 loss to the Lakers tonight. Foye was 6-16 from the field and connected for a season-high four 3-pointers on seven attempts. He also dished out 3 assists, grabbed 3 rebounds, and had a steal in 29 minutes off the bench, which is the most playing he's received since coming back from injury.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
A source stated that "The Grizzlies want to have at least three first-round picks this summer." The Grizzlies see their recent lottery pick Mike Conley as their point guard of the future, and now with the bigger Crittenton, they have little use for two 6-foot point guards. Personally I'd liked to see Lowry get traded to a contender where he can showcase his toughness and devotion to winning.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Player of the Game: Scottie Reynolds 24 pts, 10-13 FT
Recap: For the second time this season Villanova was robbed by a foul called with under one second left. This time the foul was called on Corey Stokes with one-tenth of a second left and the score tied at 53-53. The referees held their whistles after there was contact on Scottie Reynolds on his final drive, and it appeared the game was heading to overtime. Jonathan Wallace came up with the loose ball and dribbled down the sideline as he barely brushed bodies against Corey Stokes, and Bob Donato felt the need to call a foul 75 feet from the basket. It was a completely unacceptable call. Bob Donato took the outcome of the game away from the players, and decided to hand Georgetown a victory himself. Even Wallace admitted, "At first I thought I stepped out of bounds," after he heard the whistle. I thought the refs would have learned their lesson after the controversial finish to the NC State game. This was unfair to the coaches and players on both teams. Whether the call is against Villanova or not, it is a horrible way to decide a college basketball game, and that refereeing crew should be ashamed of themselves.
Scottie Reynolds played a great game, scoring 24 points, 10 of which came from the free throw line. Corey Fisher had a nightmare of a game going 1-16 from the field. He took a lot of difficult shots and had some unlucky bounces off the rim. He finished with 4 points and 4 assists. Nova had difficulty guarding Roy Hibbert who had 13 points ands was 7-12 from the free throw line. Casiem Drummond, Dwayne Anderson, and Corey Stokes all fouled out of the game trying to contain the big man. Drummond only had 1 point and 5 rebounds. He had some opportunities with put-backs, but couldn't find the bottom of the basket. Anderson didn't have a big offensive night (6 pts 3-9 fg) after his big game against Seton Hall, but he did have a career-high 10 rebounds. Dante Cunningham just missed a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds. He made some clutch free-throws down the stretch, going 7-8 form the line. Corey Stokes had a good first half, scoring 7 points, but he failed to score in the second half. Antonio Pena was held to 2 points and 3 rebounds off the bench. Reggie Redding and Shane Clark both went scoreless in the game. Malcolm Grant did not play for the second straight game. I think it's time Jay Wright gave some answers, as there are rumors swirling around that Grant might be transferring.
Villanova once again went on a long scoring drought, that if avoided could have changed the outcome of the game. During an 11+ minute stretch in the second half the Wildcats went 0-19 from the field. Georgetown had a couple of droughts themselves. If Nova was able to avoid that drought, the game may not have even had to come down to that foul call. Villanova really played some good defense to keep them in the game, despite their offensive struggles.
This would have been a huge win for Villanova, and with a continued strong finish in the regular season and Big East Tournament, they could have had a chance for an at-large bid. Now that seems unlikely, as Nova falls to 4-7 in conference play and 14-9 overall. Despite the heartbreaking loss, this team proved they can hang with one of the best in the country and it should give them plenty of confidence for the remainder of the season.
Next Game: St. John's at MSG, Sat. Feb. 16, 8:00 pm
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Player of the Game: Dwayne Anderson 13 pts, 8 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk
Recap: Dwayne Anderson played the game of his life tonight, and capped it off by hitting the game winning 3-pointer with 13 seconds left. Anderson got the first start of his career, and he proved that he was worthy with his performance tonight. This snaps the Wildcats' 5 game losing streak. The score was a little closer than I would have hoped for, but I'll take the win. Villanova got out to a quick start to go up by 10 early, but Seton Hall came back midway through the first half and and it was a close game from thereon out. Jay Wright made less substitutions tonight, leaving Fisher, Cunningham, Anderson, and Reynolds in for most of the game. I think this helped them to develop a rhythm both offensively and defensively. Villanova had a good defensive effort holding the Pirates to 39.3% from the field and 31.3% for three.
Dante Cunningham tied his career high with 21 points. He was aggressive going to the basket, and was an impressive 13-16 from the free throw line. He also had 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Anderson was 3-6 for three to score his 13 points. Scottie Reynolds struggled shooting the ball early, but hit two big threes late in the game to finish with 10 points on 2-9 shooting. Corey Fisher had a good game with 13 points (3-5 3-pt) and 3 assists, but was 0-3 from the free throw line. Casiem Drummond and Antonio Pena both got into foul trouble, which limited their minutes. Drummond was effective in his 17 minutes, scoring 8 points and grabbing 5 rebounds. Pena had 5 rebounds, but failed to score in 12 minutes off the bench. They both need to learn to play aggressive defense, without committing fouls. Corey Stokes made 1 of 2 3-pointers to score 3 points off the bench. Reggie Redding added four points. Shane Clark was scoreless in 12 minutes off the bench. Malcolm Grant did not play tonight. I am now convinced that Jay Wright is benching Grant for some kind of disciplinary reason. It's the only logical explanation. I just wished Jay Wright would share that with the fans.
Villanova will travel down to Washington D.C. to play the sixth ranked Georgetown Hoyas on Monday night. They will be playing at the Verizon Center where Villanova is 6-0 all-time against Georgetown. If they can pull it off, this would be a huge win for the Wildcats, and would re-open the door for a possible NCAA tournament bid. Drummond will need to stay in the game to help contain 7'2 center Roy Hibbert.
Next Game: Monday Feb. 11, 7:00 at Georgetown
Friday, February 8, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
After playing one year in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, A-Ray is now with Lottomatica Roma. Ray is averaging 10 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 25.22 minutes per game through 14 games in the Euroleague. His season high is 21 points.
After graduating last year, Mike Nardi is now playing for Agricola Gloria Montecatini. Nardi is averaging 9.4 points, 3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 32.6 minutes in a total of 18 games this season. Mike's season high is 19 points.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
"It's going to take time," Foye said. "I missed half of the season. I know, this whole year I probably won't be 100 percent. It's going to take probably the whole offseason leading up to next year. But the main thing that's concerning me about this year's team is learning how to win."
Foye can use the rest of the season as a building block for next season, as Minnesota is pretty much out of playoff contention anyway. The Wolves have won five of their last eight, but they are still 10-37 overall, second worse in the NBA to the Miami Heat. They have some young pieces to build around including Foye and leading scorer (21.5) and rebounder (12.3) Al Jefferson. The Timberwolves are 2-2 since Foye's return, and he is averaging 6.8 points in 19.8 minutes.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Player of the Game: Pat Calathes 20 pts, 9 reb
Villanova Player of the Game: None deserving
Recap: This was by far Villanova's most embarrassing loss of the season. They were outplayed in every facet of the game. They were outhustled, outworked, and outcoached. The Hawks played with more energy and enthusiasm and simply wanted it more. You can only blame youth and inexperience for so much. It doesn't explain the lack of heart and effort. The Wildcats had 17 turnovers and only 7 assists. Nova was down by as many as 31. Scottie Reynolds was a horrendous 3-12 from the field and had zero assists. Corey Stokes continued to missed open threes. Shane Clark continued to pump-fake and not even attempt open threes. Malcolm Grant saw a whopping one minute of action. I don't know what else to say. The bright side is that it can only get better from here because I don't think it's possible to play any worse than they did tonight.
Next Game: Seton Hall, Sat. Feb. 9, 6:00 p.m. at the Pavilion
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Tyreke Evans lit up the Pavilion, for what hopefully won't be his last time playing there. The 6'6 possible Villanova recruit had 33 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals in American Christian's 78-71 victory over Academy of the New Church. They played in the Pavilion on Villanova's campus for the Kobe Bryant Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic. Evans still hasn't decided where he will play his college ball next year, but Louisville, Villanova, and Memphis are high on his list. Evans has stated that playing in the NCAA tournament is a major factor for him, which would lean him towards Memphis because they are in the weaker Conference-USA. But Tyreke should keep in mind that Memphis will likely lose several key players to the NBA after this season, and probably won't be as good. Villanova's recent struggles shouldn't deter him from wanting to come to the Main Line because Villanova will likely return all of its players, and will be more experienced next season. He also shouldn't be worried about playing time with the abundance of guards on the team. Villanova's top scoring guards, Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, and Malcolm Grant, are all 6'2 and under. Evans at 6'6 would provide Villanova with a scoring guard with height. Evans has until May 16 to make his decision.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Eli Manning : Scottie Reynolds
The respective leaders on their teams. Eli has taken control of the leadership of the team with the departure of Tiki Barber. Scottie took over with the graduation of seniors Mike Nardi, Curtis Sumpter, and Will Sheridan.
Plaxico Burress : Corey Fisher
Both are great scorers with the ability to take over games. Burress is one of the top receivers in the league and has the capacity to make big plays on deep throws and short passes. Fisher is a creative scorer that can drive to the basket and hit threes.
Ahmad Bradshaw : Malcolm Grant
Bradshaw is an undrafted rookie running back from Marshall. He wasn't expected to be a major contributed, but had to step up due to injuries. He has surprised many with his stellar play late in the season. Grant was the least heralded of the incoming freshman, but has surprised many by being arguably the best of the three recruits so far.
Amani Toomer : Dante Cunningham
Toomer is a wily veteran receiver that is reliable and unselfish. Dante as a junior is a veteran on the team and is also unselfish and consistent. Neither are the major offensive threat on their teams, but when their number is called they usually deliver, whether it's a late-game touchdown or tap-in at the buzzer.
Osi Umenyiora : Casiem Drummond
Both are big guys and dominant defenders. Osi is a defensive end that is strong and quick and has a knack for getting to the quarterback for the sack. Drummond is the the center and is a beast down low. He is a rebounding machine and has a great defensive presence in the post.
Brandon Jacobs : Antonio Pena
Both are big guys that are great young offensive players. Jacobs is a running back that is surprisingly quick for his size and he runs over defenders. Pena is Nova's best offensive big man. He is able to back down defenders to score.
Jeremy Shockey : Shane Clark
Both are good complimentary players. The Giants were able to make it to the Superbowl, despite Shockey being out injured the second half of the season, and some believe the Giants are better off without him. Clark was the leading scorer early in the season, but has missed some recent games due to fatigue, and some fans think Nova would be better without him.
R.W. McQuarters : Dwayne Anderson
McQuarters is a veteran cornerback and special teams player. Anderson is also a versatile player that can play the 2, 3, or 4. Both make some good defensive and hustle plays, but you aren't comfortable with them handling the ball, as McQuarters is prone to fumbles and Anderson is prone to turnovers.
Michael Strahan : Reggie Redding
Both are defensive players. Strahan is a veteran defensive end and a leader on the team. Redding usually guards the opposing team's best scorer because of his size and defensive prowess.
Steve Smith : Corey Stokes
Smith is a rookie wide receiver, and Stokes is a freshman shooting guard. Both are young with potential, but neither are consistent contributers yet.
Hopefully the G-Men can pull the upset and end the perfect season. My prediction for the final score: Giants 30, Patriots 28
Player of the Game: Paul Harris 28 pts, 7 reb
Villanova Player of the Game: Corey Fisher 21 pts, 5-7 3-pt
Recap: Despite a strong start to the game, Villanova lost it's fourth straight, all losses by double digits. Nova's defense collapsed once again and gave up 87 points. Villanova was dishing and swishing early in the game, making great passes that led to easy baskets. They jumped out to a 26-15 lead, but then Donte Greene came alive and started sinking some threes and Nova went on another scoring drought. They struggled with Syracuse's size, getting out-rebounded 33-18. Villanova as a team had an impressive 20 assists on 26 made field goals. At the start of the game Nova played like fans had been expecting them to all season, but they weren't able to sustain it. The Wildcats have plenty of talent, but their problems stem from their youth. Right now this team doesn't have an identity, and they won't be able to win consistently until they discover their identity. It make take a year or two, or it may take a week. Either way, the future looks bright, although they are struggling in the present.
The 6'5 guard/forward Paul Harris created a match-up problem for the Wildcats. He played shooting guard, leaving Corey Fisher with the task of trying to guard the bigger and stronger Harris. Harris had his way, getting to the free throw line 16 times and scored a career-high 28 points. Fisher broke out his slump with 21 points on 7-15 shooting and 5-7 from three. The other bright spot of the game for Villanova was Casiem Drummond. He looked to be back in full form, connecting on several dunks to score 11 points on 5-7 shooting in the game. However, they all came in the first half, and he played very little minutes in the second half. The coaches most likely did not want to overwork while he is still recovering from the stress fracture in his ankle. When Drummond is on the floor they are able to run the offense from the inside out, making the team much better. Drummond also had 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Scottie Reynolds struggled most of the game, scoring 12 points, but most of those came at the end of the game when he was just chucking up threes. He fouled out towards the end, and appeared to be angry at Corey Stokes for not fouling Syracuse, forcing him to use his final foul. You can see the frustration growing with the team. Malcolm Grant got involved early and notched 3 assists, but failed to score and sat most of the second half until the very end of the game. Shane Clark did not play, and is apparently suffering from fatigue. This may explain his recent struggles. Clark has been struggling lately, but when healthy he's a valuable member of the team. Reggie Redding got the start and had a good game with 10 points and 6 assists. Dante Cunningham and Antonio Pena had sub par games. Cunningham's play should improve with Drummond back, as he'll be able to move back to the power forward position where he is more comfortable.
Villanova is now 3-6 in the Big East, putting them in the bottom four in the conference. I don't think they need to worry yet, but the bottom four teams do not make the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. As a change of pace, Villanova will face a non-conference opponent when they battle their crosstown rivals St. Joseph's Monday night. This would be a big win for Villanova, not only because it would end their losing streak, but St. Joe's is emerging as one of the top teams in the A-10 and it would be a good non-c0nference win on their resume. A win would also help get their confidence back up before they get back into conference play.
Next Game: Mon. Feb. 4, 8:00 PM, at St. Joseph's