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06 November 2007

'Nova dismantles Bloomsburg in exhibition

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
11/06/2007 10:55:00 PM
Villanova 88
Bloomsburg 41

(box score)

Next game: vs. Stony Brook, 11/09 at the Pavilion.

Villanova opened its pre-season tonight at a mostly empty Wachovia Center with an exhibition against the hopelessly outmatched Division II Bloomsburg Huskies. While the game was well in hand after the opening minutes, the game gave Villanova a chance to take a long look at perhaps the deepest roster in recent years on the Main Line.

Starters Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding, Corey Stokes, Dante Cunningham, and Casiem Drummond led the early charge as Villanova quickly racked up an insurmountable lead. Bloomsburg had extreme problems handling the ball against the swarming Wildcat pressure defense, and crumpled under the three-quarter-court press occasionally employed by Jay Wright.

The Wildcats forced 26 turnovers, including 14 in steals, and used the Huskies' missteps to jump start a brutally efficient transition game. After blowing the game open with a 58-15 halftime lead, the 'Cats took the air out of the ball a bit in the second half, mercifully gunning for a slower pace.

The biggest story of the night for Villanova was its excellent backcourt play. Scottie Reynolds, now a combo guard and an early Big East Player of the Year candidate, scored 17 on excellent shooting.

Freshman sharpshooter Corey Stokes led all scorers with 18, and looked strong on the glass and on defense. Sophomore Reggie Redding led the team in court time, turning in 31 efficient minutes and scoring 11. Freshman guard Malcolm Grant looked solid handling point duties and on defense.

In the frontcourt, Dante Cunningham quickly asserted himself as the Wildcats' best post player. Center Casiem Drummond played some major minutes and looked to have improved his game since last season. Antonio Pena, the redshirt freshman, was all over the court tonight, displaying excellent athleticism and shooting touch. Though Pena seems to prefer playing on the perimeter, it looks like he will see most of his minutes at the 4 this year.

Fans did not get a look at junior forward Shane Clark or freshman guard Corey Fisher, as both sat with minor injuries. Both Clark and Fisher should be able to go Friday vs. Stony Brook, and both figure to play major parts in the Villanova rotation.

Though the Wildcats looked sensational in all aspects of the game tonight, one should keep in mind that the level of competition could not provide any real insight on just how good Villanova is. Next up for the Wildcats is Stony Brook on Friday, when the 'Cats will open their regular season at the Pavilion.

On to the player grades. As always, click "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.
  • Reggie Redding (S, 31 min)

    Redding's play last year was characterized by making smart decisions and playing good defense. Redding's game is still smoothly efficient, and now it seems his offensive firepower has been improved, as well. Redding scored 11 points on 5-7 shooting, including 1-2 from behind the 3-point arc. He co-led the team in steals, with 4, and added 5 assists and 5 rebounds in an excellent all-around performance. His defense was solid.
    Grade: A

  • Corey Stokes (S, 29 min)

    Stokes wowed fans with his silky shooting stroke tonight at his Wachovia Center debut. Stokes drilled 4 three pointers in 9 attempts, not including a fifth made trey nullified by an unrelated offensive foul. Stokes led all scorers with 18 points on 7-12 shooting, and led all rebounders with 10. Stokes added 3 assists, 2 steals, and committed 0 turnovers. It's difficult to imagine a better debut for the All American. Though many have predicted that Stokes would begin his career as an offensive energy boost from the bench, he may just be too good not to start from the outset. I don't know what Jay Wright's decision will be, because in my mind Fisher, Reynolds, Redding, and Stokes are all worthy of starters' playing time. Could those four start with Cunningham, or will Wright employ a more traditional 5-guard rotation (with Grant) in a 3-guard set? Whatever the case may be, expect big things from Corey Stokes.
    Grade: A

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 26 min)

    Reynolds was unquestionably the best player on the court tonight. He scored 17 points on 7-11 shooting, including 2-4 from the three. His court awareness and defense were in mid-season form, and he gave the hapless Huskies fits with his 4 steals. Reynolds also led the team in assists, with 8. Though he looked good running the point to open the game, his talents appeared to be better served by roaming the perimeter as a combo guard once the freshman Malcolm Grant took over point duties. (This point guard role may eventually be handed to Corey Fisher.) Reynolds also sank some lay-ups tonight after making some ridiculous moves to the hole. One such drive to the basket completely fooled the Husky defender, who was tricked by Reynolds into lunging out towards the perimeter at the exact moment Scottie launched himself at the rim. Combine his offensive repertoire with his shooting prowess and defensive presence, and Reynolds is a viable Big East and national player of the year candidate.
    Grade: A

  • Casiem Drummond (S, 25 min)

    Drummond looks to be in the best shape of his Villanova career. He used his size to his advantage tonight against the smaller Huskies, scoring 6 points on 2-4 shooting. He added 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and a swat in his 25 minutes. Though Drummond looked improved, he still needs to be more decisive with the basketball, especially around the rim, and more assertive on the glass.
    Grade: C

  • Antonio Pena (25 min)

    Pena's talent and athleticism are unquestioned. He added significant firepower off the bench, scoring 15 on 7-10 shooting. Pena also notched 5 rebounds and a block, but co-led the team in turnovers, with 3. Pena seems to prefer to playing facing the basket, which may be an issue with the Wildcats' crowded perimeter. Pena's defense also looked a bit porous. Nonetheless, Pena is too talented to not find his way into Villanova's primary rotation, likely as an offensive spark plug off the bench.
    Grade: B-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 22 min)

    Cunningham looked strong on the blocks and spectacular in the running game, as usual. His defense was good, but he did get into some foul trouble. Cunningham is at his best on the inside and on the break; unfortunately tonight he dabbled in a few unlikely outside shots that do not seem suited to his game. Cunningham is so far ahead of every other post player on the team that I'd bet a large portion of the Wildcats' hopes for the season are pinned on his ability to stay healthy and effective, especially in grueling Big East play.
    Grade: B

  • Malcolm Grant (22 min)

    Grant looked sharp handling the point from off the bench tonight. He is an excellent ballhandler and a good passer. His defense is quick and relentless. He scored 8 points tonight on 3-7 shooting, but was 0-2 from behind the arc. If he ever finds his long stroke, watch out. Grant will likely find his way into the Wildcat rotation, spelling Fisher or Reynolds to run the point off the bench.
    Grade: B-

  • Dwayne Anderson (11 min)

    At times it's frustrating to consider the playing prospects for Dwayne Anderson. Anderson brings obvious talent and hustle to the table, but he may be stuck in line behind his younger teammates for playing time. It speaks to the great luxury the Wildcats have in the backcourt this year that a player of Anderson's caliber is likely the sixth option at guard. Tonight, Anderson played well, scoring 5 points on 2-2 shooting. He added 2 rebounds, 2 steals, a block, an assist, and no turnovers in his 11 minutes.
    Grade: B

  • Andrew Ott (9 min)

    Ott seemed a little uncomfortable out there tonight, and played fairly tentatively even against the Huskies' nonexistent defense. Ott contributed a rebound and an assist in his 9 minutes and made no glaring errors, but he may not yet be ready for major playing time in the post.
    Grade: C-

  • Incomplete grades:

  • Did not play:
    Corey Fisher
    (minor injury), Shane Clark (minor injury), Frank Tchuisi, Jason Colenda (CD).

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