Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Battling Orange and Blue Demons

Villanova is 2-3 in their past five games, and the two wins easily could have been losses. It may not seem like a time to celebrate, but let’s try to lift the spirits of Nova Nation with an NBA All-Star Weekend edition of Nova Awards.

The Bill Simmons Award for Humbling Victory for a Coach
Bill Simmons, the inventor of the awards shtick, was the coach of the East team in the Celebrity All-Star game. They won, but how proud can you be about defeating a West team led by Justin Bieber? Jay Wright’s Villanova team had a thrilling two-point victory over DePaul, but the fact that they needed overtime to beat the worst team in the Big East (1-13) is a bit humbling.

The Black Mamba Award for MVP

Corey Fisher had a Kobe Bryant-like performance in the win over DePaul: a career-high 34 points, a clutch 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, and perhaps the biggest similarity to Kobe, his one assist. Kobe has proven that Black Mambas have their good sides (37 points for All-Star MVP, 81 points in a game) and their bad sides (6-24 FG, 0-6 3PT in game 7 of the Finals last year). The same goes for Fisher, who has had his share of good games (105 points over the summer) and bad, the worst of which happened to come against Syracuse (3-16 FG, 0-8 3PT). The main difference is the Lakers won that game 7, while Nova lost to Syracuse.

The MVP of the Syracuse game was Scoop Jardine, who also has aspects of both the good and bad “Black Mamba”. Scoop had 20 points (7-11 FG) and 6 assists in the win over Nova, after having just 2 points (1-8 FG) and 3 assists in their first meeting back at the Carrier Dome.

The LeBron James Triple-Double Award for Best Performance in a Loss
LeBron joined Michael Jordan as the only player in NBA All-Star Game history to record a triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, but his East team lost the game 148-143. Corey Stokes reminded us what he does best in his return after missing three games with a turf toe injury. Stokes scored a game-high 24 points and was the only Nova player to make a 3-pointer. He hit 5 of 10, while the rest of the team was 0 for 16.

The James Jones Award for Best 3-Point Shooter
The way Jeremiah Kelly shot the ball against Nova, it seemed like he was shooting uncontested threes from a rack. He was the big reason DePaul nearly upset Villanova, making 7 of 13 three-pointers to score 25 points in the overtime loss.

The JaVale McGee Award for Big Man That Can Dunk

He didn’t dunk three balls or on two baskets at the same time, but Rick Jackson finished a handful of alley-oop dunks against Nova. He was nearly perfect from the field (8-9), which is easy when all your shots are dunks, scoring 18 points for the Orange.

The Rookie Challenge Award for Disappointing Sophomores
The Rookies upended the Sophomores 148-140 this year, but it’s a game that doesn’t really matter. However, these past few games for Villanova do matter, and their talented sophomore class has been underperforming. Dominic Cheek has been in a funk ever since his knee injury back in mid-January. Maalik Wayns has fallen into an every other game pattern for good/bad performances over the past six games. His point totals over that span: 17, 4, 13, 5, 17, 4. Likewise, Mouphtaou Yarou had a big game against DePaul (12 points and 15 rebounds), but he was shut down by Syracuse (5 points and 3 rebounds). The most impressive sophomore in the Rookie Challenge was DeJuan Blair (28 points and 15 rebounds), who was an lowly 2nd-round draft pick. The least heralded Nova sophomore also came up big in the loss to Syracuse. Isaiah Armwood had a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and he added 3 blocks. He may not be very skilled offensively, but I like his intensity on the boards and on defense.

The Blake Griffin Dunk Over a Kia Award for Blatant Advertising
Just when you thought sneakers, jerseys, shorts, socks, warm-up suits, and headbands were enough, Nike found another place to put their swoosh logo… on Jim Boeheim’s glasses!? What’s next, Nike starts tailoring designer suits for Jay Wright?

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