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15 December 2007

'Nova pulls away from Hartford

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
12/15/2007 02:40:00 PM

Villanova 103
Hartford 75

(box score)

Hartford: 5-7 (0-0 AEC)
#18 Villanova: 8-1 (0-0 BE, 2-0 B5)

Next game: vs. Columbia, 12/22 at the Pavilion.

Villanova used an explosive run beginning midway through the second half to put away a scrappy Hartford team that Jay Wright admitted controlled the tempo for much of the night. The Wildcats, heavy favorites going into the game, played the Hawks to a draw for about 30 minutes before turning on the burners with a 14-1 run in the second half.

Villanova used its explosive offense to top the century mark for the second straight game. Though some have criticized the Wildcats' defensive performance in the past few games, Villanova's defense improved Friday night, in my opinion, especially in the second half.

Many of the Hawks' jumpshots that kept the America East team in the game early on were contested. Once those shots stopped falling, the Wildcats were able to pull away.

One aspect of concern for Jay Wright and his team is the fact that Villanova was forced to abandon its highly touted press after it was exploited by the Hawks in the first half. The hallmark of Villanova's "Guard U" has always been swarming pressure defense, not just three-point shooting. While there were plenty of threes Friday (15), the pressure defense was solved and might have to be reworked slightly on the whiteboard.

The Villanova defense seemed to improve dramatically, however, upon the entrance of guard Dwayne Anderson, usually the sixth guard in the depth chart. Anderson led a fantastic 5-guard lineup that Villanova flirted with for much of the second half that did tremendous damage to the Hawk effort.

Against a team like Hartford that handles the ball well and does not have much size down low, the 5-guard lineup was the perfect second-half adjustment by Jay Wright.

With the win, the 'Cats improve to 8-1, and should move up a bit in both polls Monday afternoon.

Congratulations to reader "Steve" for most closely predicting the game's final score.

Thanks to Villanova fan and 2004 alum Patrick Antonio for providing Let'sGoNova with some excellent photographs.

Next up for Villanova is the Columbia of the Ivy League at the Pavilion on Saturday night.

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

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 35 min)

    It was a tale of two halves for Scottie Reynolds. After struggling to get involved on offense in the first half, Reynolds turned it on in the second, dropping 17 points in the final 20 minutes to lead all scorers with 21. Reynolds, who talked after the game about putting bad games and bad halves behind him, lived up to his words in the second period, when it seemed he could not miss from behind the arc. Reynolds was 4-7 from the three in the game, and shot an excellent 6-9 from the field. He was also a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line. Reynolds led the Wildcats in assists, with 6, which is even more impressive considering the team's passing talents. With Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Malcolm Grant, and Reggie Redding handling the ball, brilliant assists have become the norm for Villanova this season. Even with all that backcourt firepower, Reynolds remains the team's best scorer and passer. One downside to Reynolds's performance Friday was his 4 turnovers. Come conference play, Scottie may have to be a bit more careful with the ball. On the defensive end of the court, Reynolds played well, displaying good defensive instincts and excellent hustle.
    Grade: A-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 33 min)

    Cunningham turned in a good performance down low Friday night on both sides of the ball. Cunningham shot 6-8 from the field, scoring 13, and led all rebounders with 13 boards. He also led the team in steals, with 4, but uncharacteristically could not finish a few of the resulting run-outs. He was sloppy with the ball, leading the team in turnovers with 5. With center Casiem Drummond in street clothes with an injured foot, Cunningham picked up the slack with an extended run Friday night.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Fisher (S, 30 min)

    Fisher really got it going on offense and was just plain fun to watch against the Hawks. He shot 7-12 from the field and 4-9 from the three to score 18 points. He was 0-2 from the foul line however, which needs to improve. Fisher dished out 3 assists, had 2 steals, and committed 3 turnovers handling point duties for much of the game. Keep an eye on Fisher to have a break-out game sometime this season where he puts up 35 or more points on one of the Wildcats' opponents.
    Grade: B+

  • Malcolm Grant (22 min)

    It's apparent that Grant is quickly becoming the favorite player of a lot of Villanova fans. Malcolm Grant is simply a winner on the court. He is also instant offense, instant energy, and instant hustle off the bench. Grant may be the best freshman on the team so far, even with three much higher-touted recruits (Fisher, Corey Stokes, and redshirt freshman Antonio Pena). Grant is excelling in his role as the ultimate weapon off the bench. Grant scored 12 points Friday on 4-9 shooting, including a blistering 4-5 from the three. On a team stocked with deadly long-range marksmen, is Malcolm Grant the Wildcats' best three-point shooter? It is a distinct possibility. Grant is 16-26 (.615) for the year from behind the arc, tops on the team with at least 5 attempts, and his stroke is picture-perfect, as well. On Friday, Grant added 3 assists and committed no turnovers in his 22 minutes. His defense was above average, as well.
    Grade: A-

  • Corey Stokes (22 min)

    A lot of Wildcat fans had pigeonholed Stokes as merely a long-range shooter, even before he stepped foot on campus. Well, they were wrong. Stokes, the McDonald's All-American, is a good all-around player, and has several talents on both sides of the ball. He has good offensive instincts and awareness, and is often in the right place at the right time. His defense is improving as he learns his way through Jay Wright's system, and his minutes are increasing accordingly. It's a good thing Stokes has these other skills, because his shooting has been outright atrocious so far this season. It is hard to believe that Stokes is the same player Jay Wright called one of the best shooters he has ever recruited. Stokes is 9-37 from the field this year, an outrageous 0.243 shooting percentage, worst on the team with at least 5 attempts by nearly 0.200. He has struggled even more from behind the three-point line, the one area that was supposed to be Stokes's speciality coming in to the Main Line. Stokes is last on the team in three-point percentage at 0.207, or 6-29 for the year so far. I wish I could say that Stokes has a good stroke but is just getting bad bounces, but it looks as if his shooting form has regressed as the season went on. After looking solid at the Wachovia Center a month and a half ago in the exhibition against Bloomsburg, Stokes's shot Friday against Hartford often took the form of an ugly line drive. Stokes shot 2-9 from the field and from the three Friday, and most of those looks were wide open. It almost seemed like his teammates were intent on setting him up behind the arc so he could drain one and gain some confidence, and it's true that his two made threes looked to be huge boosts. But it took 9 attempts to get there. With his classmates Fisher and Grant playing wise behind their years, sometimes it's easy to forget that Stokes has just nine games under his belt. I fully expect Stokes to improve every aspect of his game, but his shooting slump so far has a lot of Wildcat watchers scratching their heads.
    Grade: C-

  • Shane Clark (S, 22 min)

    Clark played a decent all-around game Friday, doing a little bit of everything in the Wildcats' victory. Clark scored 16 points on 5-9 shooting, and was 5-7 from the foul line. He grabbed 5 rebounds, including 4 offensive caroms. He had an assist, a block, and two turnovers.
    Grade: B

  • Reggie Redding (S, 14 min)

    If anyone really struggled Friday against Hartford, it was Redding. After showing some brilliant offensive flashes earlier in the fall, Redding struggled on offense tonight, scoring 3 points on1-3 shooting. His defense was a tad porous, as well. On the plus side, Redding handled the ball well, committing no turnovers, and serving up 4 assists. Redding is a gifted ball handler and there is no one else I'd rather have on the second or third pass of a press-breaking formation.
    Grade: C-

  • Dwayne Anderson (11 min)

    Anderson is often the forgotten sixth guard here at Guard U. Friday night, he showed why we should all remember what a talented and dedicated Wildcat he is. Anderson, one of the team's four co-captains, was pressed into service after Hartford scored easily on the Wildcat defense in the first half. Anderson proceeded to do exactly what he was brought in the game to do, and put on a clinic for the six younger guards wearing Villanova uniforms. Anderson was a perfect 4-4 from the field, scoring 8 points, but his defense was the real story. He played stifling defense and did not take a possession off. Jay Wright praised Anderson's communication on defense as well. Anderson added 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 boards, and zero turnovers in his virtually perfect 11 minutes. It is good to know that a guard of Dwayne Anderson's caliber is waiting on the bench, but if he keeps turning in performances like Friday's, Anderson will find his way into the regular rotation, as well.
    Grade: A

  • Antonio Pena (9 min)

    Pena looked pretty good out there to me, but Jay Wright seemed displeased with the redshirt freshman's defense. Pena scored 4 points and grabbed 3 boards in his 9 minutes. He also added an assist and 2 turnovers before he was yanked for what I assume to be defensive lapses. Look for much bigger nights from Antonio Pena as the season wears on, because he may be the most talented forward on the team.
    Grade: C-

  • Incomplete grades: Andrew Ott(1 min), Frank Tchuisi (1 min).

  • Did not play:
    Casiem Drummond
    (foot), Jason Colenda (CD).

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At 3:09 PM, December 15, 2007, Blogger garretthill said...

Good offensive performance last night. The freshman are still struggling on the defensive end, but they will get better, hopefully in time for Big East play.

As for a few blogs ago, I want to comment on a few things.

I agree Nova is a National Championship contender with or without Tyreke Evans, assuming Reynolds comes back, which I truely believe he will for two reasons that I will touch on in a little.

Evans is a player that has the ability to take the game over if need be, but can, and will have to, flourish in a "team" system should he come here. He will just add to the list of threats that Nova has when they need someone to step up or if one of the other many threats goes down with injury. But I do agree that he probably will be a one and done guy, which kinda sucks.

As for Scottie:

Reasons he will/should stay:

1) He is not ready!!! Plain and simple. Right now at the NBA level, he is a one dimensional offensive scorer (a jumpshooter), with good playmaking abilities, that still struggles on the defensive end. He can't create his own shot well enough yet, nor can he penetrate to the basket and get the elevation or use his body well enough to get shots off in amongst the trees. You see him so often drive at the college level and get his shots blocked. That will just be exacerbated at the NBA level.

Reason 2: He will want to stick around a try to win a National Championship. He knows that by him staying, and with the other firepower they have, gives Nova a great chance to compete for the title, which is every kids dream.

At 7:18 PM, December 15, 2007, Blogger Dave said...

And one day later Louisville loses their second in a row to an unranked team, this time Purdue. Could we be edging them out in the Tyreke Evans sweepstakes? Losing Padgett and Caracter has killed them, and they're bound to slip out of the top 25 now.

At 7:50 PM, December 15, 2007, Anonymous Michael said...

Villanova is unstoppable!

At 9:06 PM, December 15, 2007, Anonymous Gregg said...

But is Tyreke the type of player who will care if his future team wins? All he is looking for is a place where he will be able to put up huge numbers to get recognition from NBA scouts. There's no way that he will play in college for more than one year. However, next year Villanova will have an excellent chance of winning the national championship, and he would be a great addition.

At 9:19 PM, December 15, 2007, Anonymous Michael said...

okay, Corey fisher is just an absolute stud. Hve you ever seen him miss a jumper. He will be a good addition when in the NBA. And yes he WILL make it. He's just that good. JUST THAT GOOD!!!!!!!!

At 9:23 PM, December 15, 2007, Anonymous Michael said...

Fisher blows away that poor baller pena he's a BUM!!!!!! oKAY HE HAD 1 GOOD GAME AND IT WAS LUCKY AGAINST Temple

At 10:12 PM, December 15, 2007, Blogger Bill said...


I agree with your comments.

I would only add that there may be a potential learning experience for Evans to flourish in a TEAM system. That's a problem I am sure Jay would love to have, and is very capable of handling.

If Evans is smart, and I suspect he is, he will understand that he has no better place to learn those skills than with us and our coaching staff. He must understand to excel at the NBA level he cannot be successful as a soloist, particularly at his position.

Watching Scottie this summer and early this season I think you are correct.

At 8:06 AM, December 16, 2007, Anonymous Michael said...

Corey Fisher was one of the best in high school, and he will just dominate anyone who comes his way in college basketball. He's unstoppable!

At 11:54 AM, December 16, 2007, Blogger Dave said...

See, if Louisville drops out of the top 25 that automatically makes them less recognizable. It's simply a fact of college basketball that that would happen. If he wants to be recognized why would he go to an unranked team? Admittedly Louisville's been hurt by injuries, but at the rate they're going they might not make the tournament, and there's no way Evans goes to a non-tourney team. Louisville hasn't even started up their conference schedule yet, where it will only get harder.

At 2:29 PM, December 16, 2007, Anonymous WTF said...

Is corey fisher's letsgonova tag "Michael"?

At 3:27 PM, December 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't forget about memphis in the tyrke evans sweepstakes... they are probably the frontrunners... he will be able to step in for derrick rose and be the feature guard there when rose leaves for the nba

At 4:24 PM, December 16, 2007, Anonymous Gregg said...

Tyreke won't be able to "shine" at Memphis, so that's probably out of the question for him.

Michael, Corey Fisher is a good player, but your comments are exaggerating a little. By the way, what's your problem with Pena? I think that he has great talent and athleticism.

At 4:27 PM, December 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

he won't be able to shine at memphis? is derrick rose not shining there now? rose is gone after this year and tyreke will be able to step into his place. douglas-roberts will probably be gone as well so the backcourt will be all his.

At 7:07 PM, December 16, 2007, Anonymous Gregg said...

Rose is obviously playing well, but when you compare is numbers to Eric Gordon (who he is probably better than,) Gordon's are much better. I'm just saying that Rose is capable of putting up better numbers if he was on a team that wasn't as talented.

At 8:25 PM, December 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

rose is a pass-first pg, gordon is a sg... watch memphis play and you will see how much rose has the ball in his hands... it's his offense.

plus, that's a terrible argument anyway because we are already loaded with guards.

i'm not saying i don't think tyreke will come here but you are basically counting out memphis who is probably the leader to land him at this point. if louisville and memphis were both out of the question, he would have already committed here.

At 9:08 PM, December 16, 2007, Anonymous Gregg said...

Okay, I'll consider that Memphis is a posibility, but just because Villanova is stacked with guards doesn't mean that he can't still dominate. He'll obviously take playing time from other guards such as Redding and Grant, although I do like them.

At 3:24 AM, December 17, 2007, Blogger Pete said...

Great comments and discussion, everyone.

Hope you liked the recap and the fantastic pictures that were provided to LGN by Pat A.

At 3:26 AM, December 17, 2007, Blogger Pete said...

As for Tyreke -- Can you imagine what we could do if he comes and Scottie stays? We would have a backcourt to rival some NBA teams. If I were Tyreke I would seriously consider the benefits of coming to Villanova. The great coaching and chances to shine, sure -- but how about the media attention and NBA scouts when he takes his local university team deep into the NCAA tournament with Larry Brown at every game... just seems to make sense. I think we get Tyreke.

At 10:52 AM, December 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was having the sale thoughts about the extra "ink" Tyreke would get being the home town boy...

At 4:35 PM, December 17, 2007, Blogger garretthill said...

I think Memphis and Louisville are both good fits for Tyreke....not that Nova is not. I also think there is a chance he may want to leave home, which obviously rule out Nova.

Both Memphis and Louisville run more of a pro style offense than Nova. I think that is one of the reasons he really likes Memphis. As for Louisville, Pitino has been recruiting him for longer than anyone.

I won't be surprised if he picks either Louisville or Memphis.

Here is my percentage chance odds on which school he lands:

Louisville: 45%
Nova: 35%
Memphis: 20%

At 5:01 PM, December 17, 2007, Blogger Pete said...

Fair enough on the percentages... you do have to wonder, though, if the recent implosion at UL (dropping out of the polls) might just help out Memphis and Nova.


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