Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nova in the Naughts: A decade in Review

With the decade coming to a close, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the past ten years of the program.

2000-2001 (18-13)

November 17, 2000: Villanova loses 98-85 in the second round of the preseason NIT to eventual National Champions Duke, led by Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, and Chris Duhon.
January 17, 2001: Gary Buchanan scores 30 and Michael Bradley adds 29 in a win over Virginia Tech.
March 14, 2001: Steve Lappas loses his final game as head coach 87-78 to Minnesota in the opening round of the NIT.
March 15, 2001: Jay Wright and the Hofstra Pride lose to UCLA 61-48 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
June 27, 2001: Michael Bradley is selected 17th overall in the NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors.

2001-2002 (19-13)

November 21, 2001: Jay Wright wins his Villanova head coaching debut 82-68 over Grambling State.
November 27, 2001: Jay Wright suffers his first loss as Villanova head coach to Rasaul Butler and the La Salle Explorers 61-58.
February 9, 2002: Villanova upsets #15 UCLA at the Pavilion 58-57.
February 11, 2002: Caron Butler, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, and the Huskies hold Villanova to 40 points; no Wildcat scores in double figures.
March 22, 2002: Villanova loses to Temple 63-57 in the quarterfinals of the NIT.

2002-2003 (15-16)
November 15, 2002: Jay Wright's prized recruiting class of Jason Fraser (13 points, 13 rebounds), Randy Foye (10 points), Allan Ray (16 points), and Curtis Sumpter (2 points) make their debut in a 73-61 loss to Dwyane Wade (17 points) and #18 Marquette at Madison Square Garden.
November 30, 2002: Villanova upsets #9 Michigan State 81-73 behind 29 points from Gary Buchanan.
April 7, 2003: Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse win the National Championship without ever playing Villanova that season.

2003-2004 (18-17)
November 22, 2003: Allan Ray drops 38 points and Mike Nardi dishes out 13 assists in a 114-103 win over the Redlands Bulldogs.
February 28, 2004: Villanova loses by one point in overtime at the Wachovia Center to eventual National Champs UConn.
March 10, 2004: Randy Foye hits a game-winning shot with 3.6 seconds left to beat Seton Hall 61-60 in the first round of the Big East Tournament, ending a five-game losing streak.
March 24, 2004: Villanova loses to Rutgers 72-60 in the quarterfinals of the NIT, which is now the last time Nova has failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

2004-2005 (24-8)
January 22, 2005: Villanova upsets #2 Kansas 83-62 on a snowy day in Philly.
March 18, 2005: Jay Wright gets his first NCAA Tournament victory over Danny Granger and New Mexico.
March 20, 2005: Curtis Sumpter goes down, and Jason Fraser posts 21 and 15 to lead Nova past David Lee and Florida.
March 25, 2005: Allan Ray gets called for a phantom travel after shooting 3-32 from the field in the Tournament. Randy Foye drops 28 and freshman Kyle Lowry scores a season-high 18 points, but Nova loses by one point in the Sweet 16 to eventual National Champs North Carolina led by Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants, and Marvin Williams.

2005-2006 (25-8)
December 3, 2005: Randy Foye scores 32 points to lead #4 Villanova past #5 Oklahoma at the Pavilion.
January 8, 2006: After a 10-0 start, Villanova gets "Pitsnoggled" and loses 91-87 to West Virginia at the Pavilion.
February 13, 2006: #4 Villanova beats #1 UConn 69-64 at the Wachovia Center in front of a record-setting crowd. Jay Wright is nationally recognized for his 4-guard offense.
March 10, 2006: Carl Krauser pokes Allan Ray's eye out, and Pitt knocks Nova out of the Big East Tourament in the second round.
March 17, 2006: Villanova earns its first ever #1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, then narrowly escapes a monumental upset versus 16-seeded Monmouth 58-45.
March 24, 2006: Sean Williams goal-tends Will Sheridan's shot with 3 seconds left in overtime, and Nova wins 60-59 to move on to Elite Eight.
March 26, 2006: Randy Foye scores 25 points in his final game in a Villanova uniform, but Nova falls short to the eventual back-to-back National Champion Florida Gators, led by twin towers Joakim Noah and Al Horford.
March 29, 2006: Kelvin Sampson is named head coach at Indiana, causing McDonald's All-American Scottie Reynolds to renounce his commitment to Oklahoma and join Villanova.
June 28, 2006: Randy Foye (7th) and Kyle Lowry (24th) are selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Allan Ray is signed by the Celtics.

2006-2007 (22-11)
November 11, 2006: Villanova beats the Rollie Massimino coached Northwood Seahawks 97-60.
December 9, 2006: Despite 31 points and 10 rebounds from Curtis Sumpter, Nova falls to Drexel 81-76 at the Pavilion.
January 20, 2007: Villanova holds Kevin Durant to 12 points, and he is posterized by Dante Cunningham.
February 28, 2007: Freshman Scottie Reynolds drops 40 points on Hasheem Thabeet and UConn.
March 16, 2007: Villanova squeezes into the NCAA Tournament as a 9-seed, but loses to Kentucky 67-58 in the first round.

2007-2008 (22-13)
December 6, 2007: Malcolm Grant scores 13 points in the final three minutes to come back from a 21 point deficit to defeat LSU.
February 4, 2008: St. Joe's hands Villanova its fifth loss in a row in a 77-55 blowout at the Palestra.
February 11, 2008: Corey Stokes is called for a foul 70 feet from the basket, with less than one second remaining. Jonathan Wallace hits both free throws to give Georgetown a 55-53 victory.
March 21, 2008: Villanova is one of the last bubble teams to make the Tournament as a 12-seed, and they use a 18-point comeback to upset #5 Clemson in the first round.
March 28, 2008: Villanova is once again knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by the eventual champions, the Kansas Jayhawks.

2008-2009 (30-8)
January 6, 2009: Scottie Reynolds has his second 40-point game in a 89-85 overtime win over Seton Hall.
January 28, 2009: Reggie Redding scores 18 points in the final college basketball game at the Spectrum, a 10-point win over #3 Pitt.
March 9, 2009: Dante Cunningham wins the Most Improved Player Award in the Big East, Corey Fisher wins the 6th Man Award.
March 19, 2009: Tied at 55 with 7 minutes to play, Villanova rallies to beat 14-seed American in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
March 21, 2009: Six Wildcats score in double figures as Nova beats UCLA by 20 points in the second round.
March 26, 2009: In the Sweet 16 Gerald Henderson shoots 1-14 and Jon Scheyer 3-18 in a 23-point Villanova blowout.
March 28, 2009: Scottie Reynolds hits "The Shot" against Pitt to send Villanova to Detroit for the Final Four.
April 4, 2009: For the fourth time this decade Villanova loses to the eventual National Champion, this time Tyler Hansbrough's Tar Heels.
June 25, 2009: Dante Cunningham is selected in the second round of the NBA draft by the Trailblazers.

2009-2010 (??)
November 19, 2009: Mouphtaou Yarou leaves Puerto Rico with Hepatitis B.
November 22, 2009: Villanova beats Ole Miss to win the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
December 13, 2009: Villanova fans curse the name Juan Fernandez.
December 19, 2009: Reggie Redding returns from marijuana suspension to score 15 points.
January 2, 2010: Villanova opens Big East play at Marquette.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jay Wright's 2009 Christmas Wishlist

Dear Santa,

Hey big guy, how's it going up there in the North Pole? You must be really busy. Everything is just fine down here on the Main Line. Villanova football are National Champions. We just beat Delaware 97-63, our 33rd consecutive win at the Pavilion. (You have an open invitation to any home game by the way. You can park your sled on top of the Jake Nevin Fieldhouse.) We're 11-1 and ranked #3 in the country... but there are still some things I'd like for Christmas this year.

1. Please let Scottie Reynolds continue to light it up from downtown like he did against Delaware. (6 of 8 for 22 points... and 6 assists)

2. A new $6,000 Italian-imported Kiton suit.

3. Please keep Reggie Redding, and the rest of the team for that matter, out of trouble. (Reggie has looked like a man on a mission since returning from suspension. The so-called defensive specialist is averaging 15.5 ppg.)

4. Please let the real Taylor King be the one we saw against Delaware (19 points and 12 rebounds), and not the one we saw the previous two games (11 points combined).

5. Conversely, please let the real Antonio Pena be the one we saw all season, and not the one we saw against Delaware (just 7 points and 6 rebounds).

6. A healthy team. (Mouph Yarou is still out with Hepatitis-B, and now Maurice Sutton is out with an upper respiratory disease.)

7. Please let Corey Fisher continue to have a 4/0 assist to turnover ratio, as he has for the past two games.

8. A Snuggie

9. Please help Corey Stokes discover his shot again. (Four straight games of single digit scoring and failing to make more than one 3-point shot.)

10. A National Championship (Thanks again for the Final Four last year, but I sure would love to go all the way...)


Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nova Has Pretty Good Weekend

The day after the Villanova football team beat Montana 23-21 for its first ever national championship, the basketball team followed suit with a 96-58 victory over the Fordham Rams. The football team probably doesn't get the attention and respect it deserves within the Villanova community, and I'm as guilty of that as anyone. First off, the FCS actually uses a playoff system to determine its champion, rather than voting on who gets to play for the championship like the BCS does, and that alone makes it a thousand times better. Secondly, Villanova has a legitimate superstar in Matt Szczur. He had 270 total yards and two touchdowns in the game. He is not only a NFL prospect, but a major league baseball catching prospect as well. I mean, they guy plays football during the day and saves babies lives at night. As a Villanova fan, I'm ashamed to say that I never even heard of Szczur until a few days ago.

As for the basketball team, they followed up their loss to Temple with a 38 point win over Fordham. Villanova now has the same number of wins at the Izod Center this season as the New Jersey Nets. They let Fordham hang around for a little too long in the first half, but Nova completely dominated the second half. The Rams had no answer for Nova's full court press, which led to turnovers and easy baskets for the Wildcats.

Reggie Redding made his 2009-10 season debut and didn't miss a beat. While suspended, he was still able to practice with the team, which enabled him to step right in and start. He had 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

Scottie Reynolds, Antonio Pena, and Corey Fisher led Villanova with 17 points each. I was at this game, and let me tell you, Fisher Price looks so much better in person. He always seems two steps ahead of the defender. I could see him getting drafted in the late first round like Kyle Lowry. By the way, Lowry had his best game as a pro the other night in a 116-108 overtime win over Dallas. He had 26 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, and a block.

Joining Redding in the starting five was Taylor King, while Corey Stokes and Maurice Sutton were relegated to the bench. Stokes had a rough shooting night (2-11), but pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds. In years past Stokes seemed to disappear when his shot was off, but now he is finding other ways to help the team. I don't know whether it's a result of defenses focusing on him more, but after taking 15+ shots in the two games previous, King has attempted under 5 shots in the last two. Meanwhile, Sutton has fallen out of the rotation completely. After playing just 6 minutes at Temple, he played 5 against Fordham, most of which came during garbage time. Isaiah Armwood has apparently taken over as the first big off the bench. He played a season-high 17 minutes, and although he failed to score, he grabbed 4 rebounds and made a couple of nice passes. Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek had nice bounce-back games, combining for 18 points off the bench.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Around the Big East

1. Syracuse (10-0)
The Orange have made everyone forget about the preseason loss to LeMoyne with wins over Cal, North Carolina, and Florida. The junior transfer from Iowa State, Wesley Johnson, has been fantastic, averaging 16.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and shooting 54% from three. They also got a commitment from the #2 center prospect for 2010, Febricio Melo. With a last name like that, I doubt Boeheim had to do much recruiting.

2. West Virginia (7-0)
They haven't played anybody yet, but their defense looks scary-good. They held Duquesne to 39 points. Devin Ebanks has missed four games due to unknown personal reasons. Nova-killer Da'Sean Butler is off to a nice start, averaging nearly 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.

3. Villanova (9-1)
All aboard the Redding Railroad! Reggie will return from suspension on Saturday at Fordham. His senior leadership and defense might be exactly what this team is lacking.

4. Georgetown (8-0)
Speaking of scary-good defenses, opponents are only averaging 56.2 points against the Hoyas. G'Town fans should be thankful Greg Monroe (15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3 assists) didn't bolt for the NBA last year.

5. UConn (6-2)
Their only losses are to Duke and Kentucky. They have one of the best backcourt duos in the nation with Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker, both of whom are averaging over 5 assists per game.

6. Cincinnati (6-2)
Both of their losses came in overtime to good teams (Gonzaga and Xavier). Lance Stephenson has skillzzz...

7. Pitt (8-2)
Their only two losses are to Texas and Indiana. There's a lot of new faces on this Panthers team, but they look better than I expected.

8. Seton Hall (8-0)
Seton Hall is undefeated? And second in the country in scoring at 90.8 per game? What the what? A game against Virginia Military (134-107) will skew the numbers, but still. By the way, Jamel Jackson dropped 40 in that game... the game before? One point! Shiver me timbers, what is up with the Pirates this year?

9. Louisville (5-3)
The Cardinals have lost two in a row, but at least the latest was against Carolina. Wait, that was Western Carolina?! Well then, things aren't looking too good for Pitino's squad. He can't seem to settle on a rotation; 11 players are averaging over 11 minutes per game.

10. St. John's (8-1)
The Johnnies are off to a nice start; their lone loss came at Duke. Plus, they accomplished what Villanova could not: win at Temple and hold Juan Fernandez to 5 points.

11. Notre Dame (9-2)
I wish I could say something about the Fighting Irish basketball team, but every time I Google search Notre Dame all I get back are updates on the football coach carousel.

12. Marquette (7-3)
I enjoyed this:

13. South Florida (7-2)
They're giving Ole Miss a run for their money for most exotic names: Augustus "Caesar" Gilchrist, Jarrid "Almost" Famous, Toarlyn "Reggie Cleveland All-Star" Fitzpatrick, Shaun "Manuel" Noriega.

14. Rutgers (7-2)
Could the Scarlet Knights' days in the Big East be numbered?

15. Providence (7-4)
The Friars lead all of college basketball with an average of 45.8 rebounds per game. Take that stat with a grain of salt because it also means they're missing a ton of shots.

16. DePaul (6-3)
I guess the Blue Demon faithful is not thrilled with Jerry Wainwright's .436 winning percentage over his five seasons at DePaul... When you look at Isiah Thomas as a coaching upgrade, you know your program's in bad shape. My favorite "Wainwright'ism": "He plays with great enthusiasm, and what a physical specimen! If I looked like that, I'd spend all day walking around in a Speedo."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Temple Hands Nova First Loss

It's always a bittersweet moment when an opponent's fans rush the court on you. It's the utmost form of flattery in college basketball; a sign of respect. It means you were supposed to win because you are bigger, better, faster, etc... Unfortunately, it also means you did not win, and in Villanova's case, this was their first loss of the season.

Villanova got off to a bit of a slow start, but took control midway through the first half with a 14 point lead. Nova looked like they were on their way to another lopsided Big 5 win. However, they got sloppy, and Temple hit some shots to cut the lead to 6 at the half.

In the second half it was all Temple. The Owls simply outplayed us. They had the best shooter, Juan Fernandez (33 points, 7-9 3pt). If he was balding with a five o'clock shadow, I would have thought he was Manu Ginobili. They also had the best rebounder, Lavoy Allen, who out-boarded Antonio Pena 17-2! Ultimately it was Temple's hot outside shooting that did Villanova in.
They drained 7 of 11 from behind the arc in the second half, while Nova missed 10 of 12.

With all the recent winning, you may have forgot about the near upset against George Mason in Puerto Rico. What I said after that game still holds true.
"This is clearly not a top five team right now. They could be by the end of the season, and personally I think they will be right there among the nation's elite when everything's said and done. However, this team is still so young and inexperienced."

Carrying a #3 ranking everywhere you go brings on a lot of pressure, especially from opposing players and fans looking for the big upset. Villanova's 2005-06 senior-laden team with Foye and Ray could handle that pressure, but this team isn't as battle-tested yet. With Big East play right around the corner, they will have the opportunity to earn their stripes and win back that top-5 ranking, if and when they deserve it.

Other notes and stats:
* Scottie Reynolds had 23 points, his third straight game with 20+. He also had 4 turnovers, his third straight game with 4+.

* Antonio Pena scored 16 points and was a perfect 6 of 6 from the line, but his 2 rebounds were his lowest of the season. He had at least 7 boards in the team's previous 9 wins.

* Corey Fisher had 14 points and 7 assists, but he hurt his field goal percentage by jacking up some desperation threes at the end of the game.

* Looking at Corey Stokes' point totals this season, he appears to be feast or famine: 20, 14, 1, 3, 18, 9, 7, 18, 4, 5. At least his defense and rebounding have been consistently good.

* Taylor King was 2 of 3 from downtown in the first half, but he did not even attempt a shot in the second half.

* Maurice Sutton played just 6 minutes, despite averaging over 21 per game since Yarou went down.

* Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek were both held scoreless in the same game for the first time this season.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

King Kills Hawk, Wins Holy War

Taylor King delivered the dagger to kill the Hawk with a deep 3-pointer at the 1:31 mark, to put Villanova up by seven.  The Wildcats hit their free throws (30 of 31 in the second half) to close out the game for a 97-89 victory over St. Joe's. 

You could tell from the start that despite St. Joe's under .500 record and Nova's #3 national ranking, it would be a close game.  The atmosphere in the Palestra was intense, as Phil Martelli, his players, and the St. Joe's fans treat the annual "Holy War" as their biggest game of the year.  As a member of the Big East, that is not quite the case for Villanova, but Jay Wright had his players prepared to match the intensity regardless.  

The game started out at a frenetic pace, with each team trading bucket for bucket.  The fast pace played right into Jay Wright's game plan because there was no way St. Joe's would be able to run with the ultra-deep Wildcats.  The Hawks were able to keep up with Nova in the first half, but at the start of the second half they looked as tired as the Hawks mascot after waving his arms the entire game.  Nova was able to build a semi-comfortable lead in the second half before St. Joe's final push at the end of the game. 

Scottie Reynolds had another fantastic game with a very efficient 22 points (4-5 fg, 2-3 3pt, 12-14 ft).  He added 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and a block.  His only problem was being a little too sloppy with the ball, turning it over six times.

Taylor King played his best game as a Wildcat with 20 points and 9 rebounds in his sixth man role.  King showed great perseverance in this game.  He missed all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half, yet remained confident in his lefty stroke and made all four of his shots from downtown in the second half.  King had an embarrassing moment on a break-away when he was rejected by the rim and missed the dunk.  However, he returned to the game aggressive, looking to make up for it, and he did.

Antonio Pena was having his way inside against the Hawks.  He was scoring in the post at will and grabbing every rebound in his vicinity.  The only one who held him back from a monster game was himself, as he was somewhat limited by foul troubles.  He finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, a block, and 4 personal fouls in 25 minutes.

Corey Fisher had some sweet dishes to lead the team with 6 assists.  He scored 13 points, and was a perfect 8 of 8 from the line.  Fisher is averaging over seven free throw attempts per game.

Corey Stokes had a quiet night with just 4 points and 4 rebounds.  He missed two threes early in the game, then he didn't look for his shot the rest of the game.  Perhaps he realized he just didn't have it that night and deferred to the hot hands (Reynolds and King).

Maurice Sutton was active on the boards; he collected 6 rebounds (3 offensive).  However, he missed some easy baskets inside.  Sutton needs to learn to go stronger to the hoop.  When you're almost seven feet tall you should be dunking the ball with authority, not laying it in softly.

Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek brought some energy and scoring off the bench, combining for 17 points and 4 rebounds.  Isaiah Armwood added 2 points in 5 minutes.  

With the win, Villanova moves to 3-0 in the Big 5 this season, and they will look to run the table this Sunday versus Temple.  

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Raining Threes (And Beer)

Last night you saw how lethal Villanova's lineup can be with four quality 3-point shooters on the floor together. The Wildcats got hot from long-range early and never let up en route to a 95-86 win over the Maryland Terrapins. Nova attempted a school record 39 3-pointers and made 16 of them. Corey Stokes, Corey Fisher, Scottie Reynolds, and Taylor King all hit at least three longballs. Stokes led the way hitting 5 of 11 from downtown for his 18 points. Fisher was the most accurate from behind the arc, making 4 of 6 for 20 points. King shot a low percentage from the field (5-17, 3-8 3pt), but had 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals.

Scottie Reynolds had that look early in the game. The same look he had against UConn in 2007 and Seton Hall in 2009 when he dropped 40. He didn't score 40 against Maryland, but he was draining shots and finding open teammates all game long to finish with 25 points and 8 assists. Maryland's version of Scottie Reynolds, Greivis Vasquez, did not fare as well. He had 12 points, 7 turnovers, and fouled out.

When you shoot so many threes, you need someone down low to clean the glass, and Antonio Pena did just that. He had 6 offensive rebounds and 11 total, to go along with his 8 points. Maurice Sutton contributed 4 of the teams 20 offensive boards. Villanova as a team out-rebounded Maryland 42-30.

Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns combined for 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists off the bench. The more I see Cheek play, the more I realize he will be really really good. He can start for most teams in the country right now, but I think he will benefit from watching the upperclassmen and being brought along gradually.

Despite Nova's dominance on the boards and their prowess from behind the arc, Maryland was able to keep the game close, thanks to some hot shooting of their own. Sean Mosley was 11-14 from the field to score 26 points and Eric Hayes hit five 3-pointers for 20 points. Nova also had difficulty containing Mayland's big man Jordan Williams (19 points and 12 rebounds), sending him to the line 13 times.

The turning point in the game came on a controversial call in the second half when Corey Stokes drew a charge under the basket. The Maryland crowd was hoping for a blocking foul and-1 call, and upon hearing it was a charge, one fan threw a bottle of Miller Lite onto the floor. Luckily, it didn't hit anyone and it was only plastic, but they had to delay the game to clean up the floor. The beer-throwing fan was later caught and ejected. This begs the question: Who was that mysterious fan, and why does he hate Miller Lite so much? Nova News is on the case and has compiled a list of possible suspects.

Suspect A: Steve Blake - He has probably been exchanging trash talk with Blazers teammate Dante Cunningham all week in anticipation of this game. Perhaps they made some kind of wager, and upon realizing he was going to lose, Blake grew frustrated and threw his beer onto the court.
Verdict: Former players typically sit behind the team's bench, but the bottle came from higher up in the stands, so it couldn't have been Blake.

Suspect B: President Obama - He lives in D.C. We know he's a basketball fan. He has enjoyed an adult beverage at the Verizon Center before.
Verdict: The President would have been sitting courtside, and come on... you know he would be rooting for Nova.

Suspect C: Tiger Woods' Washington D.C. mistress - He seemingly has one in every major city, and I'm guessing his D.C. mistress is a former Terp cheerleader. All the recent press allegations, coupled with her Alma mater losing; she likely lost her cool and flung her beer onto the floor.
Verdict: Girls can't throw that far, especially cheerleaders.

Suspect D: Scott Van Pelt - This Sportscenter anchor graduated from Marlyland, and he isn't afraid to show bias towards his school.
Verdict: Van Pelt is too much of a company man to attend a game not being broadcast by ESPN.

Suspect E: Kasey Kahne - He is the driver of the Budweiser NASCAR team. It had nothing to do with the charge call. Upon taking a sip of Miller Lite, he simply threw the bottle onto the court in protest of the taste.
Verdict: Why would a NASCAR driver be at a college basketball game?

Suspect F: Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle - He is a turtle, so naturally his allegiance lies with the Terrapins. He wears Maryland red. He is the most aggressive, rebellious, and emotional Ninja Turtle.
Verdict: I can't find any discrepancies, it all adds up. It had to be Raphael.

Well there you have it. Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle threw a Miller Lite bottle onto the floor in the middle of the Villanova-Maryland game. Touche sir, I hope it was worth it. At least Leonardo roots for Nova.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nova Hexes Drexel With Defense

Villanova played what Jay Wright considered the team's "best defensive game of the year" in a 77-58 win over the Drexel Dragons at the Pavilion, the team's thirty-second consecutive victory at the on-campus arena. Drexel did not score until the 10:19 mark in the first half, and their top two scorers, Jamie Harris and Gerald Colds, were held scoreless.

Antonio Pena led the Wildcats with 19 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Drexel could not stop him inside and resorted to the hack-a-Pena strategy. It failed to work, as he made 11 of 16 from the stripe.

Scottie Reynolds had his most balanced game of the season with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and a steal.

Taylor King had a big game off the bench with 16 points and 5 rebounds. He was feeling it from downtown, hitting 4 threes. He also had another Dwayne-Anderson-signature-dive-from-behind-steal, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Although, he made a curious statement after the game: "I heard the crowd a little bit and I like that. I don't feed off the crowd, though. I hear them but I am only playing for my coaches and teammates." I'd like to think he is playing for his fellow students and the fans as well.

Corey Fisher scored just 5 points, but he dished out 5 assists and had 4 steals.

Corey Stokes hit just 1 of 4 from behind the arc to score 7 points. He had another 5 rebounds, his season average, which is up from 3.4 last year.

Maurice Sutton did what he does best, blocking three more shots.

Maalik Wayns scored 7 points off the bench in 17 minutes.

Dominic Cheek had just 3 points in 20 minutes, but his defense has been very impressive. He had 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal, and with his long arms, he is a perfect fit at the top of Nova's full court press. High school stars usually step on campus ready to score, but they struggle to adjust to the college game defensively; however, Cheek has been an exception to that trend.

Isaiah Armwood and Russell Wooten chipped in 2 points each.

JayVaughn Pinkston has become the third 2010 recruit to commit to Villanova. He is a 6'6 forward from Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn. He joins James Bell and Marcus Kennedy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Curse of Jason Fraser Strikes Again

Moupthtaou Yarou has tested positive for Hepatitis B. There is no timetable set for his return yet. Here are some facts on Hepatitis B from WebMD:
"Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. Most adults who get hepatitis B have it for a short time and then get better. This is called acute hepatitis B. You can have hepatitis B and not know it. You may not have symptoms. If you do, they can make you feel like you have the flu. But as long as you have the virus, you can spread it to others. Sometimes the virus causes a long-term infection, called chronic hepatitis B. Over time, it can damage your liver. In most cases, hepatitis B goes away on its own. You can relieve your symptoms at home by resting, eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Treatment for chronic hepatitis B depends on whether your infection is getting worse and whether you have liver damage. Most people with chronic hepatitis B can live active, full lives by taking good care of themselves and getting regular checkups. Sometimes chronic hepatitis B can lead to severe liver damage. If this happens, you may need a liver transplant."
It's unknown whether Yarou has acute or chronic Hepatitis B. He has been ruled out for Wednesday's game against Drexel, but depending on the severity of the virus he could conceivably be back as early as Sunday, or he could be out for the remainder of the season.

Yarou is the most highly touted big man Jay Wright has recruited to Villanova since Jason Fraser in 2002. Fraser was considered the top high school center in the country by many scouts, yes, over Amare Stoudemire. He was the prized recruit of the Foye, Ray, Sumpter class, and he looked like a can't miss prospect who could have went straight to the NBA if he desired. However, Fraser suffered from a long list of injuries since stepping on campus. From here's a quick rundown of Fraser's woes.

Freshman year: "Injuries and a suspension caused him to miss the last three weeks of the season ... Underwent surgery on both of his knees on April 9 to repair ligament damage ... Diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left foot on Feb. 24."
Sophomore year: "Played only 10 minutes prior to January after battling a stress fracture in his left heel."
Junior year: "Spent most of the season as a reserve in an effort to limit the stress on his knees... Following the season he underwent surgery on his right hand for the second time in four months after breaking the navicular bone in a game against Providence on Jan. 11 .. . Five days later, on May 11, he underwent microfracture surgery on both knees in a procedure designed to relieve the persistent swelling and tendonitis that has plagued him throughout his stint on the Main Line ... Now has undergone seven surgical procedures in less than 30 months ... Missed four games with a fractured bone in his right hand in January... Returned to action on Jan. 29 at Rutgers after missing four games with a fractured right hand... Underwent surgery to have a screw inserted into a fracture in the carpal navicular bone in his right hand on Jan. 14... Made his first appearance against UMBC since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Oct. 22."
Senior year: He appeared in every game, but was never fully recovered from his previous injuries.

In the meantime Villanova should be just fine without Yarou. Antonio Pena is having a breakout junior season, averaging a double-double. Taylor King will have to play undersized at the power forward position at times, but he has shown good rebounding ability so far, averaging almost seven boards per game. Finally, Maurice Sutton has been a pleasant surprise with his quality rebounding and shot-blocking. Let's hope Mouph recovers fully and quickly, and that he has a little more luck in the injury department than his predecessor.