Friday, March 27, 2009

Villanova is Elite

Final Score: #3 Villanova 77, #2 Duke 54

Player of the Game
: Dante Cunningham - 14 pts, 11 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk

Recap: I was watching the start of the Missouri/Memphis game, getting ready for CBS to switch over to Duke/Nova at 10:08, and at about 10:07 PM eastern -- black. The power went out at my house. It was like a scene from a bad movie, or a Sopranos episode. I spent the next half hour frantically trying to find a place with power to watch the game. I thought it was a bad omen of things to come. However, when I finally found myself in front of a working television, Villanova was up by five midway through the first half. Unless you were even more unfortunate than me, you know what happened next. Nova took a three point lead into the locker room and never looked back. Nova was dominant on defense, holding Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer to 4-32 shooting and outscoring the Blue Devils by 20 points in the second half.

Photo Captions:
Unknown Blue Devil: "Thanks Greg, you have the magic touch."
Greg Paulus: "Forget basketball and football, my future is as a professional masseuse."
In his final collegiate game Greg Paulus had 3 points, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and 4 personal fouls in 10 minutes.

Jon Scheyer: "I can't stop you with my defense, so maybe I can distract you with my jazz hands."
Reggie Redding: Scores, then shakes head in disgust.
Scheyer's offense wasn't much better than his Swiss cheese defense: 3-18 FG, 2-10 3PT.
Redding had a great game on both ends of the floor: 11 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks. He's really turning into a complete player, and he couldn't pick a better time to do it.

Dwayne Anderson: "No layups."
Elliot Williams: "Oh well, at least I'll be on Sportscenter."
I have to give Williams credit for that one dunk, it was sick. But that was Duke's only highlight of the game.
Dwayne had a great first half with 8 points and 5 rebounds, but he failed to score in the second. However, you can never fully measure Anderson's impact in the box score. There just isn't a stat for heart and toughness.

Shane Clark: "The road to the NBA goes through me, buddy."
Shane played some tough defense down low and didn't allow any easy baskets. As a result he fouled out in 22 minutes, but he contributed a solid 7 points and 5 rebounds.
Henderson, on the other hand, really hurt his draft stock in this game: 1-14 FG, 1-5 3PT, 7 points.

Dante Cunningham: "Sit down dude, you can't dance."
Dante grabbed another "Nova News Player of the Game Award", not that that means anything. He had his tenth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Singler, Thomas, and Zoubek were no match for Cunningham inside.

Scottie Reynolds: "This is basketball, not yoga."
Kyle Singler: "Scheyer told me to try jazz hands."
Scottie is starting to heat up. He had his best scoring game of the tournament so far with 16 points. It wasn't the most efficient 16 points (5-15 FG), but it's good to see him aggressive on offense, looking for his shot. A wrist injury may have been holding him back in the last two games because he was wearing a brace, but hopefully his shooting stroke is fine now.

I can't even attempt to figure out what's going on here.
Corey Stokes is in there, and although he had a quiet night offensively (7 points, 1-4 3PT), he grabbed 5 rebounds and played strong defense. His counterpart from the bench with the same first name also had a quiet night. Fisher had just 6 points and more turnovers than assists, but it didn't matter. This game wasn't about scoring, it was all about the tenacious Wildcat defense.

Coach K: "I wish I could go back to coaching Kobe, LeBron, and D-Wade..."

Next Game: Sat. 3/28, 7:05 PM vs. Pitt
Now Villanova plays a familiar foe for a trip to the Final Four: Pittsburgh. No one saw back to back blowouts coming against UCLA and Duke, but I don't think there will be any surprises in this one. Pitt and Nova know each other too well. Villanova can't overpower them with tough physical play because Pitt is even more tough and physical. Villanova already proved they can beat this team, and they know the key is to attack DeJuan Blair. The Final Four is within reach... they just need to play their hearts out and leave everything out on the floor.

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