10/20/2011 03:09:00 AM
A boisterous take on Villanova basketball.
The Washington Wizards are close to a deal that would send the No. 5 pick in Thursday's draft, Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller, a league source told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher on Tuesday. [...] The trade hasn't been consummated yet because of a clerical point that Etan Thomas needs to handle, a source told Katz.
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Redding's solid 36 minutes risked being overshadowed by his foolish inbounds with 13 seconds left. Luckily, Villanova won the game, so Redding's effort can be properly appreciated. Redding shot 2-6 from the field to score 5 points. He was the only Wildcat to miss a free throw, shooting 1-2 in the game's closing minute. He co-led the team in rebounds with 6. Redding added 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals, and a team-high 3 blocks. His overall defense was excellent. Redding is the heart and soul of a surging Final Four team. No top grade, because of the end-game sequence and small offensive impact, but Redding's tenacious defense earns him an above-average rating.
Reynolds hit the game-winning shot in one the great finishes of NCAA tournament history. As Jay Wright said after the game, they will be replaying that basket when Reynolds is 40 years old. Reynolds's clutch play is even more amazing when viewed through the lens of his mediocre shooting night. Scottie shot 4-11 overall, and 0-3 from the three, and the team still won. Reynolds definitely seems bothered by his sore right wrist. Hopefully the full week's rest between now and the national semifinal will allow the wrist issue to fade away. Reynolds was perfect tonight from the foul line, a cool 7-7. He did not handle the ball very well, committing 4 turnovers, but of course he handled it well when it counted. Even though he shot 4-11 with 4 turnovers, no steals, and 1 assist, how can I not give Reynolds an excellent grade after one of the biggest shots in NCAA tournament history?
Cunningham picked up two fouls with over 8 minutes remaining in the first half. I emphatically diagree with the decision to sit him the rest of the half -- this was for a Final Four, after all, and you have to trust your senior not to commit an additional foul before halftime. As such, Villanova's arguably most important player was limited to just 30 minutes. Cunningham was not able to stop Blair, who scored 20 on 9-9 shooting, but he did manage to score 14 points of his own on decent 6-11 shooting. Cunningham pulled in a lower-than-usual 5 rebounds, and added 2 assists, 2 turnovers, and 1 steal. Whether Villanova next faces UNC and Tyler Hansborough or OU and Blake Griffin, Cunningham's next assignment will be the toughest and most important one of his career.
Despite how good Dante Cunningham has been the last three years, Dwayne Anderson is the senior I will miss the most next year. His play in the NCAA tournament run has been astounding. Tonight he was easily the player of the game, and he made play after play to keep Villanova competitive. As mentioned, what's lost in Reynold's game-winner was how crucial a play Anderson's steal and three-point play was. Anderson shot a good 5-10 tonight, inlcuding 2-6 from the three and a very nice 5-5 from the foul line. He grabbed a team-high 6 rebounds. He also led the team in steals, with 4 of the 6 Wildcat picks overall. It was an amazing performance, and Villanova will miss Anderson's hustle, athleticism, decision-making, and resourcefullness next season.
I've got to hand it to Clark. He has been much-criticized in this space in his career, but he saved us tonight. Clark scored in the first half when no one else seemed able. He shot a good 4-7 overall, including an amazing 3-4 from the three. He notched 4 rebounds and committed just 1 turnover. Excellent hustle play from Clark, whose late-season emergence has been one of the bigger reasons for Villanova's improvement.
As predicted in the Duke recap, Stokes improved his shooting considerably against Pitt in the second game in the arena. Here is hoping that he will have the chance to play two games in Detroit's Ford Field stadium. Tonight, Stokes shot an excellent 3-4, including 1-2 from the three. He showed he could put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Stokes added 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, and 1 block. I still think Wright subs Stokes in and out too frequently for him to develop an optimal rhythm. Stokes, though, will need to be a reliable scorer in the next game if Villanova hopes to advance to the national championship.
Fisher only received 18 minutes tonight, but they were 18 huge minutes, and he was on the floor when it counted at the end. Earlier in the game, Fisher initiated one of the most entertaining plays I have ever seen. He dove to the floor for a loose ball and tipped it behind his body to a trailing Reggie Redding, who proceeded to make a fantastic pass to Reynolds in the corner. Reynolds pump-faked, getting his defender airborne, before driving baseline to make a very nice reverse layup. Without Fisher's extraordinary hustle, Villanova would not have had those two points. Fisher shot poorly again tonight, just 1-7. But where he really shined was on the foul line, where he was a perfect 7-7, including a pair of ultra-clutch late-game trips. He added 4 big rebounds for a 6-foot guard, and handled the ball reasonably well, dishing for 2 assists while committing 2 turnovers.
Pena contributed 6 decent minutes, and while he did not have any impact on the box score, he absorbed two personal fouls that would have disqualified any of Villanova's other frontcourt players.
Cunningham was the best post player in the game by far, and luckily for the Wildcats he asserted himself as such. Dante shot a decent 5-13 from the field and a good 4-6 from the foul line to score 14 points. He led the 'Cats in rebounds, with 11, and blocked 1 shot. He committed just 1 turnover, which is excellent. He had 1 steal that led to a very nice fast break dunk.
Player of the game -- and it's not even close. Redding was a force on defense. His help defense was so perfect, I took to watching him on every possession, just to appreciate how well he moved within the flow of the pressure D. He played efficiently on offense, shooting 4-7 to score 11 points. He added a helpful 9 rebounds, and led the team in assists with 4. He blocked 2 shots, stole 1 ball, and committed 2 turnovers. All-around outstanding play, but truly special on defense. Villanova will need a similar effort from Redding on Saturday to get past Pitt.
Reynolds, plagued by minor wrist pain, finally got going a bit in the scoring department. Though he shot a mediocre 5-15, he was a perfect 4-4 from the line, and hit 2 of his 6 threes to lead the team with 16 points. Reynolds added 3 boards, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 turnovers, and 2 key steals. He made good decisions with the ball, and played well on defense. His 6 three-point attempts were all good shots, and 2 more of them could have easily fell. Villanova will need Reynolds to score against Pitt, especially since Blair might limit the Wildcats' interior offense.
Anderson plays so hard and with so much passion. He always seems to be in the right spot for a tip, a follow, a lay-up, or a fast-break. Against Duke, he shot an efficient 4-8 from the field despite missing badly on his 2 three-point attempts. He grabbed 7 rebounds, passed for 2 assists, and turned the ball over just once. Anderson has developed from a practice player for Villanova into a real asset, an athletic weapon that can hardly be defended against. Along with Fisher, Anderson has become my favorite Wildcat to watch play.
Fisher managed to have a very positive impact on this game despite struggling a bit offensively. He shot a bad 1-6, including 0-3 from the three, but most of those were very good shots. He was 4-6 from the foul line. He added 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and handled the ball very well, committing just 2 turnovers. (No, I am not going to count that low-class ball-grab by Nolan Smith as the last 3 seconds ticked off the clock as a turnover.) Fisher's one basket came on a beautiful dribble drive with a nice pump fake at the end. Villanova is going to need Fisher to shoot better next time in Boston, but Fisher played well today despite the poor shooting percentage. His defense was so good I was surprised to see he only had 1 steal -- he likely caused several more turnovers with his pesky pressure.
Clark had some great moves in this game. He shot 3-5 to score 7 points. Clark grabbed 5 boards and notched 1 brilliant assist on a fantastic interior pass. The box score credits him with 0 turnovers, but he did actually make a turnover when a perfect Scottie Reynolds pass sailed through his hands. This has been a regular occurrence this year -- perhaps Villanova can spend a little more time on the passing drills with Clark before Saturday? Still, a very solid game from Clark.
Stokes looked good handling the ball today, despite the 3 listed turnovers. He shot 2-7 from the field and 1-4 from the three. He was perfect from the line at 2-2. He pulled in 4 rebounds, and added an assist and a block. Not the most explosive game from Stokes, but he played 21 solid minutes, including good defense. Look for Stokes to heat it up from the three at the next opportunity. A very unscientific "pattern" would seem to indicate that Stokes shoots much better the second game in an arena.
Pena was only in for 8 minutes but played very well. He shot 1-1 on a very nice dunk, and was a perfect 2-2 from the foul line as well. He added 3 rebounds in his limited time, and committed no turnovers and no fouls. Can't ask for much more than that in 8 minutes.