Friday, November 7, 2008

The Apprentice Defeats the Master

Final Score: #25 Villanova 75, Northwood 37 (Exhibition)

Player of the Game: Dante Cunningham 20 pts, 8 reb

Recap: Jay Wright took on his former coaching mentor for the second time of his career, and once again was victorious over Rollie Massimino and the Northwood Seahawks.  Rollie received a warm reception as he and several former Wildcat players were honored at halftime.

The Starting 5
PG - Scottie Reynolds
SG - Corey Stokes
SF - Dwayne Anderson
PF - Antonio Pena
C - Dante Cunningham

I think this is the Villanova's best starting five right now.  They have size, are strong defensively, and have three-point shooting.  Corey Fisher was the sixth man, which is probably his best role, for now at least.

1st Half
The first half was downright ugly.  Villanova could not score, and they continually turned the ball over.  Villanova put on a horrendous shooting performance: 37 FG%, 2-11 3PT, and 4-13 FT. You can blame the poor 3-point shooting on adjusting to the newly extended line, but that doesn't explain the rest.  Perhaps they were just rusty, with this being the first game they've played in about eight months. Their only saving grace from the first half was the defense, which held Northwood to 21 points, but Villanova was only up by 5 at the half.

2nd Half
Villanova came out firing in the second half with a 13-0 run.  They were forcing turnovers, which led to easy baskets in transition.  Northwood had 31 turnovers in the game.  The shots began falling for Nova in the second half as well.  Villanova shot 58.6% from the floor, 7-9 from three, and 8-12 from the line to make up for the poor first half numbers.  In the second half the defense was just as good, if not better.  Nova held Northwood to only 16 points on 18.8% shooting. Northwood isn't exactly a powerhouse, but it's a good sign for the defense to be this good this early in the season.

The Players
Villanova went to Dante Cunningham early and often, as he seemed to be the only player who could score in the first half.  He had 13 points in the first half and finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds.  He was especially active on the offensive glass with five offensive rebounds. Dante scored inside and out, hitting a couple of jumpers and slamming a couple of dunks. 

Scottie Reynolds got off to a cold start.  He had as many points as turnovers (3) in the first half.  He didn't really look for his shot early in the game, but he came out firing in the second half to finish with a very respectable 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.  He also took much better care of the ball in the second half with zero turnovers.  Despite the slow start, Scottie seems to be picking up right where he left off last year, playing at an elite level.

As I said earlier, Corey Fisher was the sixth man in the game.  I like that role for him because he should be able to bring instant offense off the bench, but he failed to do that last night.  Like most of the team, he got off to a very slow start, not scoring until midway through the second half.  He hit a couple of late threes to finish with 10 points, 2 assists, and 3 steals.

Corey Stokes had a solid all-around game with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.  He looked good on defense, but on offense he is still relying too heavily on his outside shot.  He was 3-7 from three, which is not bad, but he only took one 2-point shot (and missed).  He needs to learn how to drive to the basket if he wants to become an elite scorer in the Big East.

Antonio Pena, like Corey Fisher, did most of his scoring late in the game.  He finished with 8 points, but had only 2 rebounds in 23 minutes.  He also picked up four fouls, an area he struggled with last season as well.  He was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line, but overall I was expecting a little more Pena this year.  Hopefully he'll pick it up in the games to come.

Dwayne Anderson played like his usual self, making all the hustle plays and playing strong defense.  He had 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal.  Not overwhelming stats, but Dwayne did what he's supposed to do.

Reggie Redding played a decent game off the bench.  He had 6 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals, but was careless with the ball, committing 4 turnovers.  He played strong defense, but he tried to do a little to much offensively, leading to the turnovers.

Casiem Drummond did not have a very good night.  He fouled out in only 10 minutes of play.  He had 2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal, which aren't horrible numbers for 10 minutes, but he needs to stay on the floor.  The two areas he needed to improve most this season were free throw shooting (0-4) and avoiding fouls, and it appears he is still struggling at both.

The two walk-ons, Jason Colenda and Russel Wooten, got into the game in the final minutes and picked up a steal each.

Two players that did not play were Shane Clark and Maurice Sutton.  Clark had right knee surgery yesterday and will be out for three to six weeks.  It's a shame. Another injury for Shane, who is yet to play an entire season fully healthy at Villanova.  Sutton not getting into the game, which seems to confirm the belief that he will redshirt this season.

Overall you have to be pleased with the Wildcats' performance.  The defense was dominant and hopes are high on the Main Line this year.

Next Game: Friday, Nov. 14 at 8:00 pm - Regular season opener at the Pavilion vs. Albany