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01 February 2008

'Cats welcome Orange to town

posted by NovaFan09
2/01/2008 01:26:00 PM

Villanova Wildcats (13-6, 3-5 BE) vs.
Syracuse Orange (15-7, 5-4 BE)

Date: Saturday, February 2, 2008
Location: Wachovia Center (Philadelphia, PA)
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
Television: ESPN

Official game notes (PDF): Villanova.com
Syracuse coverage: CuseAdelphia || Orange Basketball

Villanova looks to return to its winning ways this Saturday when the Wildcats face the Syracuse Orange at the Wachovia Center. Since its impressive come-from-behind victory at the Carrier Dome no more than two weeks ago, Villanova has lost three straight conference games, fallen out of both the major polls, and is now teetering dangerously close to the bottom tier of the Big East.

In the last meeting between these two teams, 'Nova was led by Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher, who dictated a tempo to Villanova's liking against Syracuse's 2-3 zone. Defensively, the front line handled the likes of Arinze Onuaku and Paul Harris, while forcing guard Scoop Jardine into eight turnovers. Super freshman Jonny Flynn led the Orange with 23 points, while classmate Donte Greene, arguably Syracuse's most consistent offensive threat, played with limited effectiveness on the court, as he was in foul trouble all game.

While this was a convincing victory at the time for a young and motivated Wildcats team, I shudder to think what the outcome would have been had Greene played more than 23 minutes. After playing Georgetown down to the wire (64-62 OT loss @ GU), Syracuse has posted two convincing victories versus Providence and DePaul.

This battle can best be described as a game between two reputable programs going in opposite directions, and I, for one, hope Villanova can end its losing streak at three games by completing a home-and-away sweep of Syracuse.

Keys to the game

Defense: The points will come for Villanova if Syracuse continues to struggle defensively; 'Cuse allows 73.1 points per game, three more than Villanova's season average. The key for 'Nova to come out of this game with a W will be its ability to defend the perimeter. Donte Greene will no doubt be much more of a factor this time around, and he will complement Flynn's ability to sink three point shots, regardless of range. The 'Cats must not over-help on dribble-drives by Greene, because his keen court vision will allow him to find the open man. Instead, 'Nova defenders must be aggressive on their own man, and be willing to take charges, putting Syracuse's scorers in foul trouble once again.

Tempo: This "key" for Villanova worked last meeting with Syracuse. Jim Boeheim traditionally runs a 2-3 defense with his teams. Because this year's edition is still learning to rebound efficiently in this particular defensive set, Coach Boeheim will often revert to man-to-man defense. Villanova's offense should dictate which defense Syracuse will primarily play, forcing the Orange to react to Villanova's offense.

Crash the boards: Syracuse's defensive rebounding troubles will allow for countless put-backs by Pena and Cunningham. Every point will count when team defense is struggling like 'Nova is now, although it looked a little better against Pitt.

Take it strong: Pena would have easily had six or eight more points in the Pitt game had he tried to dunk the ball instead of finessing a layup around the rim. If the bigs go up strong with the ball and the guards take it to the hole, not only are the Wildcats showing that they came ready to play, but they will put Syracuse in foul trouble by doing so. This may be the most important key to the game.


Crowd: I mention this far too often, but the crowd absolutely affects the play of Villanova. Put yourself in the position of the kids on the court. How would you perform if you heard Malcolm Grant's name being called from the fan section? Although we all may disagree with the substitution pattern of Jay Wright, the fact of the matter is this team needs the fans' support. Aside from the opening five minutes of each half and Villanova's last run with about 11 minutes remaining against Notre Dame, the Wachovia Center was silent. Syracuse traditionally brings a large contingent of fans to Philly, and it would be sad to see the Orange cheer louder than the home fans.

Final thoughts

You are either on the bandwagon or you are off it, and despite their frustrations, it is the duty of the student section to intimidate the opposition. I do not think the 'Cats are as over-matched in this game as in previous contests, because each team has its share of problems. I believe Villanova will rise to the occasion and win this game; after all, the best antidote to losing is winning.

Remember to predict the final score in the comments section below, and offer your own keys to the game.

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At 2:02 PM, February 01, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

My prediction is contingent on Grant seeing at least 15 minutes:

Villanova 77
Cuse 71

At 2:11 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am on the band wagon forever. GO NOVA.

Nova 78 'Cuse 74!!!!!

At 2:13 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Villanova 68, Syracuse 64

At 2:40 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous bpeach01 said...

I doubt anyone is going to go back to the comments from the Pitt review, so I am going to leave my comment here. Let me start with the player grades and build up to the comments section. Dwayne Anderson as a wing should have more assists (from the player grades)? That makes no sense what so ever. In a guard-oriented team, and particularly with this team, there is an overreliance on the three point shot. Wings never traditionally rack up significant amounts of assists, and that’s particularly true with a guy that lives out on the three point line like Dwayne Anderson. Your assists are going to come from slashing point guards who kick it out, and frontcourt players who kick the ball back out (this is why I can't wait for Drummond to get his big minutes again). Frankly, Dwayne Anderson racking up assists is the least of my worries. For him to rack up assists, he’d need to handle the ball more, and I don’t think we want him dribbling more when we already have turnover issues. The bigger issue is the overall lack of assists on this team, and this is not at all unexpected. Well before this season began, I said on VUSports.com that this team would record very few assists, have more turnovers, shoot poorly from the free throw line at the end of games, and play crappy defense. They’re young! That’s what young teams do! They’re coming from playing in high school and on summer league teams where they are “the guy”. They have to learn how to play at the college level with other skilled players, and to bring their game on the defensive end. They have not played as a team this season, but I gurantee you’ll see a turn around in the next couple years. As others have mentioned before, it took the Foye/Ray/Sumpter/Frasier class till their junior team to become a cohesive team. Dominating freshman/sophomore teams are rare, but to answer the question posed in another comment, I’ll give you two examples: last year’s Ohio State team and the Syracuse team with Carmelo, Hakeem Warrick, and Gerry McNamera. This almost never happens though, so to expect it is crazy. Temper your expectations my friends, we’re clearly in for a long Big East season.

This idea that Malcolm Grant is not playing because of mysterious injury or discipline issues is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, and this site loses credibility for perpetuating these rumors. If Malcolm suffered a serious concussion in Cincinatti, he would not have played the minutes he has the few games. I’m a nurse and I can tell you concussions usually resolve with sleep, and the only real treatment for it is Motrin. The symptoms are a pounding headache, and in extreme cases lethargy, visual changes, and nausea/vomiting. Most concussions resolve in a couple days with sleep. If Malcolm had any of the other symptoms, he would not be playing at all. If he still had those symptoms, this many weeks post-injury, than he probably has a subdural hemorrhage which is actually serious. Somebody with a subdural hemorrhage would not be capable of playing, and I gurantee no physician in their right mind would miss the signs weeks after an injury.

The suggestion that Malcolm Grant is playing reduced minutes because of disciplinary issues is equally ridiculous. If he were in trouble for something, he wouldn’t be playing at all, and certainly wouldn’t get big minutes at the end of games. Jay has given him the minutes as a last ditch effort to spark some life into the team, and because the other guys aren’t giving him anything. I agree that Malcolm warrants more minutes, and I’d be pissed by now if I were him. However, it’s clear what Jay is attempting to do.

Look at this last game. He finally sat Shane Clark after a string of bad performances. It seems clear that he didn’t want to sit him because he wanted his experience on the floor, but he finally had no choice but to show him pine. You’d think Malcolm then would have gotten some minutes in (smaller lineup), but instead Reggie Redding and Dwayne Anderson saw more minutes. Reggie has underperformed himself this year, so why is he given more minutes. Jay does not want to put a really young team on the floor and he needs his defense! Dwayne has earned his minutes with some offense, and rebounding. Jay already has Pena, Fisher, and Stokes playing serious minutes. Dante is really the only elder in the starting lineup these days. I don’t see Jay budging signifcantly on his strategy. If you want to make an argument here it is: Malcolm has earned more minutes than the other freshmen playing. The core issue here is youth: not injury or discipline. I have no issue with LetsGoNova’s shameless campaign for Malcolm to get him more minutes. If you’re going to make your case though, identify the true issue. While the other two true freshman exhibited more potential coming out of high school, it’s clear that Malcolm deserves more minutes. Pena is just going to get his as a big man. The other two are getting theirs as five star players who came to this school expecting big minutes. They’ve clearly been outplayed by Malcolm though, and he needs some of their time.

Lastly, B-Rob, I can’t help wondering if you have a subdural hemorrhage or an even more serious epidural hemorrhage. I totally agree that Dante Cunningham is a key to success for us, and Scottie is a liability on defense, but Shane Clark needs the ball more???? From the beginning, Shane Clark has largely been overrated. People had huge expectations for him coming in, and those people were morons. Coming out of high school, he was highly overrated. He is athletic, nothing else. You’re right when you say sometimes streaky shooters need a lot of touches to get out of a funk (ala Gray Buchanon and Allan Ray), but Shane’s issue is not that he’s hasn’t been getting the ball enough. He makes bad decisions when he has the ball. He has two uses: spot up threes on kick outs, and diving in to crash the boards using his athleticism. He should not be living under the basket because every big man 6'8 or greater will outrebound him and bully him with their size. Shane needs to fly in when the shot goes up to pull down boards. Shane Clark should never dribble the ball. Let me say again, Shane Clark should never dribble the ball. Leave that to your natural, Corey Fisher.

Overall, I have to say, I’ve been disappointed by the narrowness of thought on this website this year. Everyone freaks out and gets their panties in a twist over the team doing poorly. Your expectations for this team have been lofty. They performed fairly well in the beginning, but what did you expect would happen when the Big East teams came a’knockin? Believe me when I say I wanted them to come in and play a mature brand of basketball, and I had hoped they'd surprise us, but you couldn't expect it from this team. I always enjoy Crazy Pete’s passion for this team and his player grades, but from now on writers and commenters, please try to look at the big picture.

At 3:26 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous B-Rob said...

Contrary to one's belief I suffer from neither. What I'm wondering, is exactly what you are suffering from?? Shane has NEVER been overrated coming out of high school. If that's your strong point, then you making the statement about Sumpter/Fraser/Foye/Raye is contradicting in itself. It took them until they're Jr year to be cohesive. Shane and Dante are ALL THEY GOT!!! So it's different, because although they are surrounded with talent, it's not cohesive talent because they now have to Groom the others. It's a maturity thing. Obviously you're to busy prescribing Motrin for a concusion (By the way I would NEVER want to be helped by you, if that's all you have to recommend is SLEEP and Motrin after a concussion) that you're not taking the time to analyze each player. If you watch this "Gaurd Oriented" team, you would have noticed that Dwayne, Shane AND others run out for that spot up 3 because of the way J-Wright runs the offense. When they anticipate scottie digging into the paint (Hoping he doesn't get called for a travel) and then dishing out for a three. They all have more to offer other then Athleticism, but none are able to show because of the offense the J runs. Shane plays NO differently now, then the way Kevin Garnett/Darious Miles (Same type frame) played his first couple years in the league. It's all about growing, maturing, and making better decisions. Shane is NO power forward to say the least, but can rebound with the best of them! Have you checked his wingspan lately? Doesn't make a difference if he's in the paint with someone 7' feet or not, his wingspan and smaller frame gives him a good advantage at recovering the ball. The guy can score, I didn't see you on this blog complaining at the beginning of the season when he was averaging 17.3 a game? You can't say now, well, we're did those points go, because you'd have to say that about the whole team. No one these days holds up to expectations. Look at Durant?? Coming out top 2 in the draft, you would've thought he'd be better then lebraun??? Ha! If you're one to live off expectations, then you're blogging on the wrong site.
Also, it seems to me that you don't know much about the teams situations with your statement about J sitting Shane out this previous game because of his performance. Shane had blood work done on him to find out why he was suffering from exhaustion and didn't want to take the risks of something bad happening to him on the court. So good to put your personal gestures out there, but stop complaining about other bloggers RIDICULUS actuzations when you don't know FACTS yourself. We all want Nova to come out of the slump they're in, and win a chip. We're all on here merely speaking thoughts and collabing on how we think the team could get better. All complaints about Grant are warranted by different opinions. All complaints about ANY one on the team are warranted. So unless we need a nurse to heal us from our woes of defeat, then it's better off you move to a site where criticism isn't as crucial!

I'm leaping out on a Limb praying Shanes comeback. Dante' playing a bit above normal. Scottie getting them involved and others involved, and someone off the bench (Could that be Grant or Anderson)providing a good spark!
D-fense D-fense D-fense is the KEY!!!!

Nova 83
Cuse 76

At 3:28 PM, February 01, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

Hey Brian

Thanks for your excellent comment. I see your point on Anderson and the assists issue.

To be clear regarding Grant, the only times I have entertained the notions of a mystery injury or mystery discipline issue is to reject them - in short, I agree with you.

At 3:56 PM, February 01, 2008, Blogger Jameson said...

Those were the two longest comments ever.

I think said 74-69 Syracuse on my site. This game is going to come down to fouls in a likelyhood. Villanova isn't good enough in my mind to beat Syracuse without getting the Orange in foul trouble. If 'Nova doesn't do that, Syracuse is winning this game.

At 4:55 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous JA said...

Villanova 76
Syracuse 71

I think Jameson's right, foul trouble for Syracuse will make Nova's job a lot easier, and it bailed them out last time. Villanova's been flirting with putting it all together, and Pitt was a step in the right direction in terms of defense despite the loss. I'd give Villanova about a 50% chance of winning this game, and I have to go with the optimistic view on this one.

Also, Pete was DEFINITELY right about Cuse bring a large contingent of fans. It's embarassing to have the visitors outcheer the hometown crowd, and with Syracuse that is definitely a threat.

STUDENTS - MAKE SOME NOISE AND CALL OUT THE ALUMNI. I'll be sitting in the upper deck shouting my head off, and i'll need some help from all of you to motivate the rest of the non-student crowd

At 5:16 PM, February 01, 2008, Blogger NovaFan09 said...

as a student i am consistently embarrassed by the likes of georgetown, cuse, nd, and other schools that bring caravans of people into our house. It is important we silence them early and give them something to think about on the long ride back to ny

At 5:45 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous bpeach01 said...

I apologize Pete if I misconstrued your stance on the issue. I still however question your stance on Shane, B-Rob. I don't know if you ever saw Shane in high school, but he never deserved the hype he deserved coming out of high school. He made some spectacular plays, but his decision making ability has always been questionable.

I'm not quite clear on how I'm contradicting myself- the last time I checked, Shane was a junior, so we should be seeing a little progress from him by now. The disappointing part of the season for me has been how poor Shane, Reggie, and Scottie (with his poor shooting performances and free throw shooting) have played. I expected some poor play from our young guys, but not our experienced players. Shane is now a junior, so I've expected a lot more from him. Both he and Reggie had great offseasons in terms of bulking up and playing summer ball, and I had hoped that it would translate. Scottie is only a sophomore, but after his performance in the second half of the season, I had hoped he would come in strong (with a better defensive presence). I attribute some of their poor play to the youthful surrounding cast, but the bottomline is, they all need to improve their decision making and shot selection. Reggie at the very least is a defensive weapon.
Several players have blown by Shane and Scottie this year, and Shane is a liability on both ends of the court. I'm hoping some time on the bench will get him moving. He's always been more of a spark off the bench anyway.

I wouldn't put a lot of emphasis on that 17.3 pts per game- you're not factoring in the competition. His double digit scoring nights came against: Stony Brook, a rebuilding Bucknell, rebuilding George Mason, Temple, Hartford, and Columbia. He hasn't had a double digit scoring game since December 22nd against Columbia. If you go back and read my post, you'll see that I mentioned the competition getting much harder when we start our Big East schedule. Shane is averaging 3.75 pts and 26.8% against Big East competition (including 2 games against DePaul, 1 against Cincy, 1 against Rutgers, and 2 against a shorthanded Pitt team). In the last 5 games, he's averaged 2.6 pts and 12.5%. He has looked more like a D2-D3 player, than a Big East player. If this is who you're counting on to turn us around, then we're in more trouble than I thought. His play has spiraled downward since the beginning of the season, and has nothing to do with him not getting enough touches. Incidentally, I have commented on the offensive struggles of the entire team, and have not been harping just on Shane as you eluded to in your previous message.

Shane's big double digit rebounding games came against Bucknell and George Mason. He is not the rebounding force you make him out to be. Shane frequently gets bullied underneath. He does have a nice wingspan, but his rebounds primarily come off long rebounds. He can't defend bigger men, and he gets torched by guards.

I agree that Scottie tries to drive in (and travels)frequently to a fault, but I disagree that Shane hasn't been afforded the opportunity to showcase his skills. The only times in the past when he has been successful, have been when he's there for the spot up 3. His mid-range game is questionable, and he is clearly not able to safely handle the ball. I do agree that Dwayne is only now getting the opportunity to show his talents, but his strength clearly is from the outside. The way Jay runs his offense maximizes Dwayne and Shane's talents. He's just not hitting a damn thing, and he's taking poor quality shots.

You totally lost me on your Lebron (not braun)/Durant expectations analogy. If anything, my expectations of this team have been on target. Not really sure though what my expectations have to do with me blogging on this site.

Not sure where you got your insider info. What the hell does Shane having bloodwork drawn have to do with his minutes on the court? If having blood drawn makes you have to sit out, then he probably shouldn't have played any minutes (but he did). You might want to check your facts friend. I'm quite sure Jay is sitting Shane because of his performance. Was he getting blood drawn the game before when he only played 14 minutes?

I apologize for coming in with a chip on my shoulder. I agree that we all have a right to share our opinions, hence the reason I shared mine. I think though that if you're going to share an opinion, it needs to be a well thought out one. Calling a guy that's averaging 2.6 pts and shooting 12.5% a key to the game doesn't make any sense. I could express the opinion that Jessie Jackson and Pat Buchanon would be our best President/VP duo with Bugs Bunny as our Secretary of State, but would that opinion not be both pointless and a waste of time for all that read it. I feel like people are making comments without any thought on this site. This is not true in all cases, but there are a growing number of ridiculous comments, and I wrote my condescending paragraph out of frusteration. We went to a great school- let's having an intelligent discussion. D-Rob you did end on a good note- defense is key. They will get better as they play more together, and learn how to fill each other's holes.

By the way, I'm sorry to here you don't want me to take care of you. However, that is all you can really do for a concussion. I'd love to entertain any other suggestions from you.

At 5:49 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous bpeach01 said...

I totally agree with our poor showing. ND unfortunately gets support from people for no reason. People root for them because they're "Notre Dame". I hate that people call themselves fans because they're Irish. I'm Irish, but that doesn't give me a reason to root for ND. I think we need our crowd more this year, than in reason years.

At 5:57 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous bpeach01 said...

"recent" not "reason"

At 6:00 PM, February 01, 2008, Blogger NovaFan09 said...


"This idea that Malcolm Grant is not playing because of mysterious injury or discipline issues is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, and this site loses credibility for perpetuating these rumors."

We never blamed Malcolm's lack of playing time on a hidden injury. What we did was allow the readers to know that he suffered a concussion. This is a direct quote from assistant coach Doug West. Accurate and reliable information.

At 8:20 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous Nova96 said...

Unfortunately the spiral will continue. Hopefully Grant gets minutes.

'Cuse 75
Nova 71

At 11:00 PM, February 01, 2008, Blogger greyCat said...

Per Jameson's guest preview over at my blog, Scoop Jardine is "on the beach" for this game, making Syracuse's rotation even shorter than it was 2 weeks ago. Coach Boeheim played a 7 man rotation, 6 players getting double digit run. An higher paced game with aggressive offensive rebounding should present problems, especially if Drummond is available (if he is anywhere near the condition he was in last December, he is an excellent rebounder on both ends).

At 11:03 PM, February 01, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

Great feature, GreyCat.

At 9:21 AM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous Gregg said...

It will be imperative for Villanova to get them in foul trouble early by driving the ball strong to the hoop. This way, Syracuse will be forced to put their Colendas in.

At 10:54 AM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous juli boeheim said...

'Cuse 78
Nova 69

At 1:31 PM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fire Jay Wright ASAP

At 2:04 PM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fire jay wright?! hahaha..how bout get off the bandwagon????

At 2:05 PM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous Jay for Prez said...

man this takes me back to when foye, ray, sumpter, and frasier where frosh/sophs and everyone hated jay

At 2:29 PM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous Wildcats85 said...

I love when people say 'bandwagon'... they have no idea what they are talking back.

I have been a fan of Nova for a long time. I root for them every game.

This team sucks right now. Jay is not doing a good job of coaching. Jay is a good recruiter. He is not a great coach. He is a good face of the program but might need to get better assistants because technical coaching is not his thing.

This team sucks right now and may suck for the rest of the year. I will the games still, but they are terrible. Okay - now tell me I am a bandwagon guy for telling it like I see it.

At 2:32 PM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous Gregg said...

You can defend Jay, but Villanova is 3-6 in conference, and they are on the bubble for the NIT. He's not getting the job done. St. Joes will probably be the favorite on Monday.

Just look at the caliber of all of these nova players coming out of high school, and compare that to the success that the team is having now. Something is seriously wrong, and I don't think that everybody's talent has magically decreased. Jay Wright is the most overrated coach in America.

At 2:34 PM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although Wildcats85 has some spelling problems, I tend to agree with him.

This is just a bad team right now. To the point that was raised by Jay for Prez. The only reason Jay did not get fired was because Foye, Ray, Sumpter and the gang grew up and become leaders. You think Jay developed them?

If you do, you do not know basketball. He let them do what they wanted on the court and they were tremendous players with tons of heart. They played defense well because they were talented and had pride. Jay is a good motivator and communicator. He is not a good game coach and does not develop talent. He is still good for the program. He just needs better coaches.

Let's hope we make the Big East tournament. We may not...

At 2:38 PM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous Bruiser said...

We are not going to make the Big East tourney.

Do you think Jay is a better coach than Jamie Dixon of Pitt? It is not even close. Jay could not carry Dixon's bags. Look at what he has done after Howland left. The program is just as strong.

He is clearly in the bottom half of the league as far as coaching talent. Someone try and tell me different.

He seems to be a good guy. He is good with the media and good with the players on a personal level. He is just a bad coach.


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