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24 November 2007

Villanova tops GMU to advance to Old Spice final

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
11/24/2007 04:49:00 AM
Villanova 84
George Mason 76

(box score)

George Mason: 4-1 (0-0 CAA)
#19 Villanova: 4-0 (0-0 BE, 0-0 B5)

Next game: vs. N.C. State, 11/25 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida (Old Spice Classic championship). Tip: 6:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.

Villanova defeated a tough, experienced George Mason team Friday for the right to face N.C. State for the Old Spice championship. How do I know George Mason is experienced? Because television commentator Fran Fraschilla mentioned it about a dozen times.

He was correct, though: GMU is a well coached, savvy team full of veterans, and the game was an excellent test for the young Wildcats. Villanova suffered through a few scoring dry spells in the contest, but was buoyed by guards Malcolm Grant, Scottie Reynolds, and Reggie Redding.

The Wildcats' seemed to have success with an unusual lineup featuring Grant, Reynolds, and Fisher, the three point guards, on the floor simultaneously. The three racked up several minutes playing together, and their ballhandling and shooting abilities were obvious positives. With three excellent point guards, shooting guard Reggie Redding heating up, and the supremely talented All-American Corey Stokes waiting in the wing, "Guard U" is certainly back at Villanova in 2007.

Villanova overcame a spot of adversity in the win when star Scottie Reynolds fouled out with 2:19 remaining and the game's outcome still in question. The Wildcats' young players responded with enough maturity to put the game away, even against Jim Larranaga and his sparkling glass slippers.

Villanova coach Jay Wright tried to explain the stretches of play where the 'Cats had troubles on both ends of the floor in his remarks after the game:

Sometimes when you are a young team, your defense suffers when you don't make shots. I thought that happened to us in the first half. But Malkie came into the game and gave us energy. He made a few shots and got us going. We still aren't as organized as we hope to be but these games have been a great experience for us.

Sage words from Coach Wright...but does he really call Grant "Malkie"?

In any event, congratulations to reader "Michael" for most closely predicting tonight's final score.

Next up for Villanova is the ACC powerhouse North Carolina State in the championship game.

On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 34 min)

    Reynolds struggled in the first half, shooting 1-5 from the field (0-3 from behind the arc) and 2-4 from the line for just 4 points. He heated up significantly in the second half, dropping 17 more points to lead the 'Cats in scoring with 21. After missing his first three 3-point attempts, Reynolds sank the next three. After shooting 1-5 in the first period, Reynolds sank 5 of his next 7 from the field. After missing the first two free throws of the game, Reynolds made his remaining 6 attempts from the stripe.

    The significance behind this 2nd-half turnaround is that Reynolds never gave up, and more important, never stopped shooting. Scottie plays with a lot of emotion on the court, and I am sure that helped him overcome his early shooting woes. Reynolds added 3 assists, 2 steals, and 3 rebounds to his line. He handled the ball well, committing just 2 turnovers. He looked solid at both the 1 and the 2.
    Grade: A-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 33 min)

    Cunningham, an essential cog in the Wilcats' success, seemed a little off against GMU. He shot 4-8 for 8 points, but once again took several 17 and 18-foot jump-shots that did not find nylon. Villanova has a 8-man rotation, and 6 of those players are excellent jumpshooters. Only Drummond and Cunningham have not shown that kind of range, so perhaps those shots should have gone elsewhere. Dante is much more valuable to the Wildcats fighting down low and running the fast break, both areas where he is the undisputed team leader. Cunningham had 4 rebounds, 1 block, and again led the team in turnovers, with 3.
    Grade: C-

  • Shane Clark (S, 33 min)

    Clark's game this year seems to be a balanced one. His ideal role is doing a little bit of everything: scoring, rebounding, passing, ball handling, and creating turnovers. His line against GMU seems to reflect that. Though he struggled from the field (4-12) and from the three (1-4), he made up for it by grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists, and notching 2 steals.
    Grade: B

  • Reggie Redding (S, 27 min)

    I have a feeling that Reggie Redding is going to look back fondly on his time in Orlando. Redding has put together quite a string of excellent games in this young season, and the GMU game was no exception. Redding scored 11 points in 27 minutes on perfect 3-3 shooting from the field (2-2 from the three), and was 3-4 from the line. He handled the ball extremely well yet again, committing just one turnover despite his large role in neutralizing the blistering Patriot full-court press. Redding added 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
    Grade: A

  • Corey Fisher (26 min)

    After a breakout offensive performance against Central Florida, Fisher struggled with his shot against the Patriots. "Fisher Price," as Fraschilla has taken to calling him, was 2-9 from the field, including 2-7 from the behind the arc. More disturbing, however, was his 1-5 shooting from the free-throw line, which is absolutely unacceptable for a Big-East point guard. Aside from his shooting woes, Fisher played a decent game. He led the 'Cats in assists with 5, and committed no turnovers. His defense seems to be improving, but he did get beat off the bounce a few times. Expectations are high for Fisher, and I believe he will soon fulfill them, as his talent is ample.
    Grade: C-

  • Casiem Drummond (S, 22 min)

    Drummond's improvement is obvious each game. He looks more agile and more decisive. Against GMU, Drummond was outstanding in the paint, shooting 4-5 and grabbing 10 boards. His defense is also steadily getting better. N.C. State's talented big men will be an important test for the sophomore center.
    Grade: B+

  • Malcolm Grant (13 min)

    Grant basically played a perfect game Friday. He came in off the bench when the Wildcats were struggling on both ends of the floor, and immediately sparked a momentum change after drilling two 3-pointers and displaying his typical defensive intensity. Grant was 3-3 from the field, all from behind the arc. He was 4-4 from the foul line, and scored 1 point for every minute he played. Grant also added 2 assists, and played good defense. Surely we can find more than 13 minutes for Malcolm Grant; indeed the argument could be made to start Grant.
    Grade: A

  • Corey Stokes (12 min)

    Stokes remains unable to find his shot. He was 1-6 from the field, and 1-5 from the three. He did not do much else in his 12 minutes, but when his stroke starts to heat up, watch out.
    Grade: D

  • Incomplete grades: Antonio Pena (<1 min).

  • Did not play:
    Dwayne Anderson
    CD, Andrew Ott (CD), Jason Colenda (CD), Frank Tchuisi (wrist).

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At 6:17 AM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Rick Business said...

Prediction: Rick Business: $$$$ Carl Layabout: $

At 6:17 AM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Rick Business said...

Prediction: Rick Business: $$$$ Carl Layabout: $

At 8:15 AM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Michael said...

Corey Fisher had a nice game last night. If Drummond practices alot, by the time he's a senior he will be a force in the paint.

At 10:02 AM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Richie C - Go Nova said...

What was up with fisher at the foul line tonight. Does anyone know if thats just one of his few weaknesses.

At 11:54 AM, November 24, 2007, Blogger Dave said...

Malcolm Grant absolutely killed last night. He literally didn't miss a shot, and had four clutch free throws in the last two minutes to seal the deal against GMU. He's having quite the season, and is definitely overshadowing the five-star guys on this team. Corey Fisher looked pretty good last night, but his shooting was spotty, as was Stokes'.

Still, if Nova can win tonight against NC State they have a chance to jump as high as 11 or 12, seeing as plenty of teams have dropped games this week (Louisville, Kansas State, etc.).

At 1:10 PM, November 24, 2007, Blogger Pete said...

If Nova wins tomorrow convincingly I say we crack the top 10.

At 1:34 PM, November 24, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

I think we'll move up to around 14 or 15 with a win.

Oregon, L'Ville, Gonzaga and Marquette will all fall. We SHOULD jump a couple of teams but I don't this tourney doesn't have a lot of firepower and we're not getting much attention.

This GMU win is huge because when the tournament comes around it's going to mean a lot that we beat them. They're going to win their league I think.

At 2:15 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the gaurd play of Nova and the loss of Lville factor into the recruitment of Tyreke Evans?

At 3:26 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Richie C - Go Nova said...

Do they really have the room for Evans anymore. If Reynolds goes to the NBA I could see Evans coming here, if not I see him going to Memphis.

At 4:19 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Badlands Booker said...

Booker sez nova gets the cheezburger

At 4:31 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a scholarship available, but if we don't get Tyreke, I highly doubt we will be bringing in anyone for next year. I don't see a problem with that as we have enough young talent to focus on for what is supposed to be our "big year" next year.

Also, Scottie will not leave early unless he is horribly mislead or plain dumb (which he is not). He doesn't have much of an NBA position... I'd consider him a more athletic Gerry McNamara

At 6:00 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Gregg said...

I believe that Villanova could be one of the favorites to win the National Championship next year if they could recruit a good big man.

As for now, if they win against NC state, they should move up in the range of 9th to 14th in the nation.

At 6:38 PM, November 24, 2007, Blogger Charlie said...

Reynolds almost went last year. I think its a given he leaves at the end of this season.

They made a comment during the game yesterday that Wright is having trouble recruiting top big men because of their 3-4 guard style. Seems odd because a center is only as good as the guard that passes to him.

At 8:26 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Gregg said...

Yes, that's right.

As for Reynolds, it's probably a 50/50 chance on wheather he will declare for the NBA draft.

At 9:10 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Gregg said...

When will the next game recap be posted?

At 9:38 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a chance Reynolds leaves after this year. He is too small to be a sg and he is not athletic enough and makes way too many bad decisions to be a pg at this point. I honestly don't see him leaving after next year either, which bodes well for us in the future.

As for Tyreke, bad timing. Last year he would have been a perfect fit at nova. Next year, we have 5 legit guards/wings that play well together. We don't need someone to come in and dominate the ball to get his stats and then leave after a year.We should be top 5-10 next year without him.

At 10:00 PM, November 24, 2007, Anonymous HoboJoe said...

I can't believe how many posts lets go nova is getting.

At 12:44 AM, November 25, 2007, Blogger Charlie said...

He called a press conference last year to announce he was staying. I think that means he was seriously considering it.

At 2:39 AM, November 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

trust me i'm a huge scotty fan and want to see him do well in the nba. i would also like him to stay 4 years (which is what he should do). i don't think he ever seriously considered going last year, the media was talking about it so he shot it down right away.

too many talented freshmen (oj mayo, derrick rose, jerryd bayless, nick calthes)and retuning pgs ahead of him (ty lawson, dj augustin, darren collison, eric maynor, sherron collins.

he needs to improve his defense, ballhandling, and decision making, to make up for his lack of size and athleticism, before he has a chance of being an nba pg.

At 3:48 AM, November 25, 2007, Blogger Pete said...

Recap is up. Had a busy weekend. Thanks for your patience.

Great job keeping the conversation going!

At 12:53 PM, November 25, 2007, Blogger greyCat said...

There is definitely a difference in how the team's offense functions when Fisher is at the point with Scottie at the #2. Reynolds is far more accurate with his shot when someone sets him up. Even when he takes the pass and puts it on the deck for a closer shot.

I don't know if TE is impressed by the freedom the guards are getting out there, but I could not believe some of the 3s Grant and Fisher (and Stokes) were taking. By and large they exercised good judgment when taking their shots.

There was a great quote from Coach Wright that ESPN showed (only) once or twice, something to the effect that they "take their 3s and sleep in the street..." (or "take their 3s or sleep in the street..."). You should track that down and post if Pete.

At 1:42 PM, November 25, 2007, Blogger Pete said...

Good points GreyCat...

I believe the Jay Wright quote was

"Shoot it up and sleep in the streets."

At 1:43 PM, November 25, 2007, Blogger Pete said...

At least that's what the TV commentators said it was...


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