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07 January 2007

DePaul downs 'Nova

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
1/07/2007 03:55:00 AM

Villanova 65
DePaul 73

(box score)

DePaul: 9-6 (10-6, 1-1 BE)
Villanova: 9-4 (10-4, 0-2 BE, 3-0 B5)

Next game: at Georgetown, 01/08 @ The Verizon Center.

Both teams came into the Pavilion this afternoon desperate to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start in conference play. Though DePaul had beaten some good teams, including Kansas and California, it had also lost to some bad teams (Northwestern, UAB), and its mediocre 8-6 Division 1 record made the Blue Demons a considerable underdog.

Villanova needed a win dearly after its loss to West Virginia, not only for confidence, but also as insurance against a brutal upcoming schedule. It got neither today as DePaul led for fully 39 minutes on the way to beating the Wildcats on their own floor.

What went wrong for Villanova? Defense, for one. Villanova allowed the Demons to shoot 49 percent from the field and 42 percent from the three. Bad shooting and shot selection also plagued the Wildcats. Villanova could manage no better than the same 38 percent from the field that it shot from behind the three-point arc.

During the game, my thoughts mirrored those expressed by the announcers. Sure, Villanova trailed now, but it was only a matter of time before the 'Cats pulled ahead and didn't look back. Well, they did pull ahead, by 1 with 8 minutes to play in regulation, but DePaul put an end to that 18 seconds later with a 3-pointer.

Villanova then let the game slip away. It was a game the Wildcats should have won. DePaul is a terrible road team; before beating Villanova today, DePaul's D1 record away from home was a dismal 1-7.

If Villanova hopes to make the NCAA Tournament this year, it is going to have to play much better than the performance put forth today.

Onto the player grades. As always, click "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Curtis Sumpter (S, 37 min)

    Curtis is a much better inside player than he is a perimeter player. This may be a hard pill to swallow for Sumpter, whose NBA chances (if any) would seem to rely on him making the transition to the 2-guard. Right now, however, it's still the college game, where Curtis is dominant inside and worse-than-mediocre outside. Just look at the shooting percentages today: 50 percent from inside the arc, 20 percent from the three. This has been the story all season long. Shooting 2-10 from the three? Why is it necessary to hoist that many long-range shots? Many of them weren't even open looks. Curtis finished second today in scoring with 15 on 6-18 shooting overall; he also added 8 rebounds and 2 nice blocks.
    Grade: C-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 36 min)

    It was a very quiet game for Dante. He only took 3 shots, making 1, and grabbed just 3 rebounds. For what it's worth, he looked good on defense and leading the full-court press, but the time has come from Cunningham to assert himself offensively.
    Grade: C-

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 33 min)

    It's too bad the loss soured what was the best individual performance by a Villanovan this year. Scottie showed today what I have suspected (and written in this space) all along: his is the best three-point shot on the team. Reynolds stroked a scorching 7 of 11 three-point attempts, dropping 25 points on the DePaul defense. He shot 8-14 overall and contributed 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block, and made only 2 turnovers in a game where it seemed none of his teammates really cared whether they won or lost. Glance at the box score and you will note his 25 points, easily a career high. The real story, though, was how hard this freshman played, and how much his competitive spirit showed. He tried to put his team on his shoulders tonight, and it was almost enough for a victory. I expect big things from Villanova's only McDonald's All-American this season.Grade: A

  • Will Sheridan (S, 30 min)

    After an atrocious effort in Morgantown, Will somewhat redeemed himself today. He was good on the glass with 9 rebounds, and a perfect 6-6 from the line. He also did not turn the ball over. There are still major problems, however, on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Sheridan shot 0-3 tonight, missing lay-ups that should have been in. He still plays almost no role whatsoever in the offensive attack. Sheridan also had some trouble defending the lane today; the Blue Demons scored at will in the paint when they felt like taking a break from sinking threes.
    Grade: C-

  • Mike Nardi (S, 28 min)

    Villanova's radio announcers claimed that Nardi took the floor tonight with the flu. It seems entirely plausible, as Mike's effort tonight was well below his standards. Though Nardi has a solid stroke when his feet are set and he has an open look, he should not be taking contested threes. Mike shot a dismal 4-13 from the field, including 3-10 from three-point land. Nardi was also unable to finish on a few run-out opportunities, costing the 'Cats dearly in a game where every possession mattered. Nardi was not impressive on the defensive end, where he gave up numerous open jump shots. He did lead the team with 4 assists, but the shot selection and defense have to improve if Mike is to regain his swagger as senior team leader. Grade: D+

  • Shane Clark (16 min)

    Clark was wholly unimpressive tonight. He looked awkward on both ends of the floor. Clark scored 5 points on 2-4 shooting from the field, and led the team in turnovers with 3, despite playing just 16 minutes. Is Villanova jersey #20 cursed, causing wobbly knees and general unfamiliarity with the basketball? We hope not, for Shane's sake.
    Grade: D

  • Bilal Benn (14 min)

    Benn is Villanova's best defender, and that alone should earn him more minutes. In addition to bailing out the 'Cats' defense on the press and on the perimeter, Benn led the team in steals with 2. Bilal has a good handle and should look to take it to the basket more often. His shot is also decent. Unfortunately, Benn's offensive impact on the game tonight was nil.

  • Incomplete grades:
    Casiem Drummond
    (4 min), Dwayne Anderson(2 min).

  • Did not play:
    Reggie Redding
    (CD), Ross Condon (CD), Frank Tchuisi (CD), Andrew Ott (RS), Antonio Pena (RS)

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At 8:35 AM, January 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Game Comments.

Nova is looking for the three pt shot exclusively. Most of the second half all ten players are out ont the 3 pt line. The post players set screens 22 feet from the basket and rather than cut hard to the basket they drift off to the side of the court still 20 feet from the basket. At that postion they are not even covered allowing the guards and Sumpter to be double teamed. They will go nowhere this year until the develope and inside game.

At 9:11 AM, January 08, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Sumpter: Prior to DePaul, Sumpter was shooting .413 from the 3 point line. To say Curtis, playing SF, is "worse than mediocre" from three point distance is just not an accurate statement.


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