Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nova Survives Robert Morris in OT

"I wouldn't be surprised if history repeats itself and Robert Morris gets out to an early lead on Villanova, and the score may be close at halftime. Nova fans and office pool participants across the country will sweat as whispers of "Cinderella" are heard. However, just as in years past, Villanova's depth and athleticism will over power the mid-major Colonials in the second half, and the Wildcats will cruise to a double-digit victory."
That's what I wrote in my preview for this game, and although the first part held true, I never anticipated Robert Morris being able to hang with the Wildcats for that long, and I certainly did not expect an overtime thriller. I'm not completely surprised though; Villanova always seems to struggle against these small, scrappy mid-major teams. Earlier this year they needed a late 3-pointer to beat George Mason, and I'm sure everybody remembers last year's 1st round near-upset versus American. Villanova was fortunate to escape this game with a 73-70 win, but the scary thing is that no matter who wins the Richmond/St. Mary's game, Villanova will be forced to play another small, scrappy mid-major team.

Jay Wright - News broke before the game that Jay was benching Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher, his starting back court and top-two leading scorers, to make a minor teaching point. Well, I hope they learned their lesson because it almost cost Nova the game. Fisher never seemed to get into the flow of the game, and Scottie's shot was well, to put it kindly, off.

Scottie Reynolds - 2/15 FG, 1/8 3PT, 4 turnovers... In what could have been his final college basketball game ever, Scottie Reynolds had his worst shooting game ever. He wasn't really forcing bad shots shots; he was getting good looks, but the shots just weren't falling. But there's a reason he is an All-American and a National Player of theBold Year candidate. He never gave up. His shot wasn't falling so he drove to the basket, and kept driving. He got to the line 16 times, and made all but one of them. He finished with 20 points, despite making just 2 field goals. It was a gutsy performance from the senior.

Mike Rice - The head coach of the Colonials did not agree with the gluttony of foul calls that went in Reynolds' favor. Some of the highlights: Rice getting spun around and held back from the officials by one of his own players, Rice taking his jacket off and marching halfway out of the arena, and Rice getting CBS in trouble with the FCC for shouting about thirty curses after the jumpball/foul controversial call.

Karon Abraham - Check the morgues for someone named Issac tomorrow because I think Abraham sacrificed him. It's the only explanation for the freshman having the game of his life, dropping 5 threes and scoring 23 points.

Mouphtaou Yarou - MOOOOOOOF! The undersized Colonials had no answer for Yarou as he scored a career-high 17 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and blocked 3 shots. He also played a season-high 26 minutes, and I thought he should have played even more. He was that dominant. I can't wait to see what Mouph can do over a full season next year.

Antonio Pena and Maurice Sutton - Was Jay trying to make a teaching point to Pena also? He inexplicably played Sutton for almost double the amount of minutes as Pena, the team's leading rebounder. Sutton is a great shot-blocker, he had 4, including the game-saving swat that led to the Redding breakaway. However, the 6'11 center had just one rebound in 17 minutes, despite being the tallest player on the floor. The undersized Robert Morris somehow managed to out-rebound Villanova in the first half; meanwhile, Pena was stuck on the bench. I couldn't understand it.

Reggie Redding - Maybe Reggie was trying to top his full-court pass against Pitt last year for "worst late-game blunder". Instead of taking a wide-open layup to give Nova a 5-point lead, Redding chose to dribble out the clock for an extra second before getting fouled. Then, of course, he proceeded to miss the first free throw. However, like last year, it didn't cost Nova the game. All's well that ends well, I guess.

Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher - Not only did Wayns get the start over Fisher, but Jay continued to play Wayns over Fisher throughout much of the game. Wayns played 20 minutes for the first time in two months, while Fisher played just 25 minutes of a 45 minute game. Wayns is great at driving to the basket, and I love his upside for the future, but he is not ready to run an offense. Reynolds is the leading scorer, but the offense runs through Fisher and the team needs him on the floor as much as possible. I love Jay, and I understand the benchings, but the NCAA Tournament is no time to be making major changes to your rotation with Sutton and Wayns over Pena and Fisher.

Taylor King - With a fresh haircut, King rediscovered his lefty stroke to score 10 points off the bench, his first time reaching double digits since early January. However, he only played 15 minutes. Jay Wright made some odd choices with his rotation today. At least King seems to be past whatever personal issues he was battling, which is a good sign.

Verne Lundquist - For the entire game he insisted on calling Scottie "Scott Reynolds" and Mouphtaou "Moostaf Yarou".

CBS - On the bottom of the screen they abbreviated Robert Morris as "ROB MORR". If there are an unusually high number of robberies committed today, I blame CBS.

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