Saturday, February 28, 2009

G-Town Wins Defensive Battle

Final Score: Georgetown 56, Villanova 54

Player of the Game: Chris Wright - 13 pts, 5 ast, 4 reb

Recap: This was a classic Big East battle; low scoring and dominated by tough defense on both ends. It was a wild back-and-forth affair that saw more turnovers than field goals made. Villanova had 20 turnovers (made 15 field goals), while Georgetown turned it over 23 times (made 22 field goals).

I may have jinxed Corey Fisher with my recent column, praising his play over the 13 games since the Seton Hall win. He had his worst game since then, going 2-8 from the field to score just 6 points. He also had zero assists and 3 turnovers. Corey Stokes was also cold, going 1-7 from the field and 1-5 from downtown, including a forced three with plenty of time still left on the clock to find a better shot.

You would hope that a bad game from Fisher equals a good game from Scottie Reynolds, but that was not the case. Scottie had an even worse shooting day (2-10 fg, 1-6 3-pt). He did finish with 12 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals, but had a dooming 6 turnovers. When Fisher and Reynolds are both cold offensively, it's nearly impossible for Nova to win, but they almost did pull it off.

FYI: Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher played a total of 14 minutes together. The only extended stretch they were on the court at the same time was for 8 minutes early in the second half, a span during which Villanova outscored Georgetown 12-10. After the nine and a half minute mark in the second half, Fisher and Reynolds played a total of ten seconds together. How the team's two best guards can't see more than ten seconds together during the most important nine and a half minutes of the game, I cannot understand. I also don't understand why Jay chose Anderson and Redding over Fisher for Nova's crucial possession with 35 seconds left. I know Fish wasn't having the best game, but you need your best shooters and playmakers in that situation, not your best defenders.

Dante Cunningham had the defensive play of the year with a block from behind on a Chris Wright breakaway layup. I thought that would have been a game-changing moment, but Nova was unable to capture the lead afterwards. Dante had a pretty good game, just missing a double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds. I thought Nova could have gone to their leading scorer more often in this game, as he only had seven field goal attempts.

Reggie Redding and Dwayne Anderson played great. They did everything they were supposed to; aggressive defensive and rebounding, and chipping in offensively when open. They combined for 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists. Villanova's bread and butter is the combination of the swarming defense of Anderson and Redding and the scoring punch of Reynolds, Fisher, and Stokes. However, only one element of the formula was working on this day.

Part of the credit for Nova's poor shooting goes to Georgetown's defense, but there was more to it than just that. The Hoyas executed better down the stretch, and with their NCAA Tournament hopes on the line, they seemed like they wanted it more.Hopefully this game serves as a wakeup call for Villanova to finish the season strong because they still have an outside chance for a top-4 seed in the Big East Tournament. Assuming they take care of St. John's and DePaul, I think this win should put Georgetown into the Big Dance. They'd be finishing with an under .500 conference record, but they played a brutal schedule and beat some marquis teams without losing to any horrible ones.

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