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11 January 2008

'Nova keys to the game: Cincinnati

posted by NovaFan09
1/11/2008 12:00:00 PM

#18 Villanova Wildcats (11-2, 1-1 BE) vs.
Cincinnati Bearcats (7-8, 2-1 BE)

Date: Saturday, January 11, 2008
Location: Fifth Third Arena (Cincinnati, OH)
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST (Changed from a noon start)
Television: ESPNU

Cincinnati Coverage: Bearcat News || Bearcat Blog

As stated earlier, VBTN runs a terrific preview of the Wildcats' opponent this weekend, the Cincinnati Bearcats, so I will refrain from repeating the information they have already provided.

Mick Cronin, in his second year as head coach, has lead his team to two Big East wins thus far, matching his team's conference win total of a year ago. Known for his strong recruiting, Cronin has brought in blue chips such as Newark's Rashad Bishop, who, as ESPN's Andy Glockner points out, has an impressive 1.11 Assist/TO ratio (unusually high for freshmen forwards).

While this seems to be another rebuilding year for Cincy, as with all Big East opponents, this team should not be taken lightly. Below, I will continue to offer the 'Keys to the Game' and X-factors for 'Nova.

Keys to the Game

Get Big
: Like Pitt, the Bearcats have a strong frontcourt, highlighted by John Williamson (9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Adam Hrycanuik (9.1, 5.3). This means the 'Cats must once again step it up inside and limit the damage by Cincy's big men, both offensive and defensively. Look for Dante Cunningham and Antonio Pena to continue their trend of solid inside play.

The Trifecta: After shooting over 36% from behind the arc in six of their first nine games, Villanova has cooled off considerably as a team, connecting on just 29% in their last 86 shot attempts. Defensively, the problems continue for 'Nova, as they allowed Pitt to shoot 5-11 from three and are allowing opponents to shoot a staggering 40% from downtown. As with years past, 'Nova seems to live and die with the three pointer. While I believe defensively we will hold the Bearcats' guards in check, it will be interesting to see if Fisher and Reynolds can get out of their respective deep shooting funks.

Tempo: Run their big men off the floor, and 'Nova will run away with a victory


Aside from the cries from 'Nova Nation wanting Malcolm Grant to start, another developing story has been the outstanding output of the rest of his underclassmen teammates. To date, 70.3% of 'Nova's scoring and 50.2% of their rebounding comes from freshmen and sophomores. The likes of Grant, Pena, Fisher, Reynolds, and Redding must continue to add to their average of 55.4 points and 19.1 rebounds per game for the Wildcats to remain competitive.

On an interesting sidenote, Antonio Pena, since being inserted into the lineup with more regularity after Drummond's injury, is averaging 9.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. I expect the rebounding totals to increase with more playing time, but Coach Wright must be pleased with Pena's offensive output off the bench.

Remember to weigh in on the "predict the score" contest in this thread, and offer your thoughts on what should be another exciting evening of Big East basketball. Let's Go 'Nova!

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At 10:30 PM, January 11, 2008, Blogger greyCat said...

Cunningham and Pena will have to stay on the floor and get their share of rebounds. The team will have to play from 19:59 of the first half as Cincinnati may actually be a higher quality team (Koshwal & Tucker excepted) than DePaul. The Bearcats have not been especially efficient offensively in Big East play -- the Syracuse game was the only BE contest they managed better than 1.00 points per possession (1.12 actually, extremely good; 'Cuse must not have been playing defense).

Vaughn is a talented guard, but he tends to dribble too much and does not keep teammates involved in the game. Vaughn, Gentry and Sikes are the source for any Bearcat 3 point attempts. The Bearcat bigs (Hrycaniuk and Williamson in particular) are (like Cunningham) foul-prone. As is Vaughn! Maybe if the staff matches Grant or Fisher on him those guys can take him off the dribble and put him on the bench for a couple of long stretches.

Cincinnati is the second/third "best" opportunity for a road win. Villanova needs to win this game.

At 10:36 AM, January 12, 2008, Anonymous emily said...

Yes, we really really need this win badly. We also really need scottie to have a good game, if he has three bad games in a row, i'm afraid he'll start losing confidence.

Everyone will really need to play hard and we need this win!

At 10:36 AM, January 12, 2008, Anonymous emily said...

Yes, we really really need this win badly. We also really need scottie to have a good game, if he has three bad games in a row, i'm afraid he'll start losing confidence.

Everyone will really need to play hard and we need this win!

At 11:48 AM, January 12, 2008, Anonymous Foye's Boy said...

nice preview... huge road test for the cats, they need this game and in order to get it they really need solid guard play, because with drummond out we are not as big as the bearcats. im looking for fisher price to have a big evening - go cats

At 10:10 PM, January 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well...that sucked. (the game, not the preview)

At 2:35 AM, January 13, 2008, Anonymous todd said...

pack your bags for the NIT ladies and gentlemen

At 10:02 AM, January 13, 2008, Anonymous Gregg said...

This is not a top 25 team.
Maybe if we had Cas we would be.

At 1:34 PM, January 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These guys are learning... I hate to loose as much as anyone! Let's stay positive.

The team has apparently been working on defense more than offense.

The "D" has definitely improved, to the point where it is probably further along than the offense.

How many times did you see a guy drive the lane and either make a circus shot, or eat the ball, or turn it over. In the last few years someone would drive to the paint, there would be a pass to the perimeter, two or more sharp passes to an open "3"; doesn't happen this year.

These guys can make open "3" as well as anybody... They just don't get them.

When Cas gets back and these guys mature a little more we will be a force....


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