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06 March 2008

'Nova stays alive with USF win

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/06/2008 12:02:00 AM

Villanova 72
South Florida 59
(box score)

Villanova: 18-11 (8-9 BE, 3-1 B5)
South Florida: 12-18 (3-14 BE)

Next game: at Providence, 03/08 at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Villanova kept its hopes alive for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament tonight with an ugly win over Big-East basement dweller South Florida.

The Wildcats basically outclassed USF, who nonetheless put on a game effort to keep it close in the second half. The game was not pretty to watch for Wildcat fans, who saw Villanova play sloppy basketball that certainly would not have cut it against a decent opponent.

A loss to the Bulls would have almost certainly eliminated the 'Cats from the at-large bubble. With the win, Villanova gets a chance to finish at the all-important .500 mark in conference play with a victory over the slumping Providence Friars on Saturday in the season finale.

Jay Wright continued his confusing substitution patterns, valuing size over scoring and speed. After two losses where the rotation played a huge factor, I have given up trying to explain or even understand Wright's personnel decisions.

The game nearly got away from the Wildcats in the second half, with the Bulls cutting Villanova's lead to single digits midway through the period. Villanova heated up and finally put away the scrappy South Florida team.

Congratulations to reader Sean Don for most closely predicting the game's final score.

Next up for the Wildcats is the regular-season finale against Providence in Rhode Island this weekend. It's a must-win game for Villanova to remain in at-large consideration.

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

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 31 min)

    Anderson played a solid 31 minutes tonight. He shot well from the field, 3-5, including 1-2 from beyond the arc to score 7 points. He grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the team. He had 1 assist, and did not turn the ball over. Anderson's emergence has been a huge help to the team this year.
    Grade: B+

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 28 min)

    Reynolds followed up a poor offensive game against the Cardinals with a quietly effective performance tonight against the Bulls. He shot 2-6 from the field, but reached the hoop efficiently, and shot 5-7 from the foul line to finish with 9 points. He grabbed 2 rebounds and dished out 1 assist. His 4 turnovers were largely offset by his team-high 4 steals.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Fisher (S, 23 min)

    Fisher returned to the court today after Jay Wright sat him for most of the Lousiville game for disciplinary reasons. I hope Wright proved his point to Fisher, who reportedly was late to the pre-game shoot-around at Freedom Hall, because Wright's decision likely cost the Wildcats the game. Fisher looked a little sloppy tonight, turning the ball over 4 times. He scored 6 points on 2-6 shooting, and dished out 3 assists. Fisher needs to turn it on, especially on the offensive end, if the 'Cats are going to make a run in Madison Square Garden next week.
    Grade: C-

  • Shane Clark (22 min)

    Well, Clark has proven one thing beyond all doubt: he can score against sub-par competition. Clark looks like a superstar against non-conference cupcakes and programs like USF, which was invited to the Big East for football. Clark seems to struggle against actual basketball teams, however. Tonight, Clark played well. He shot 7-11 from the field to score a team-high 15 points. He also grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out an assist. We hope Clark can continue his good play through Providence and the BET, but given past results this year, it seems unlikely.
    Grade: B+

  • Corey Stokes (22 min)

    Stokes seems to have cooled off after a few weeks of excellent shooting. Tonight the McDonald's All-American shot just 2-9 from the floor, including an atrocious 0-5 from the three-point line. He did sink 3-3 free throws to finish with 7 points. Stokes can be one of the Wildcats' biggest weapons if his shot is working.
    Grade: D

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 19 min)

    Cunningham shot a perfect 4-4 from the field, and threw down a few monster dunks. He generally looked strong in the post, so it's surprising to see that he finished with just 3 rebounds. He missed both his free throws, which thankfully were not crucial to the game's outcome.
    Grade: B-

  • Antonio Pena (S, 18 min)

    Pena played well on the offensive end, scoring 10 points on 3-8 shooting from the field and 4-5 shooting from the line. He handled the ball poorly, however, committing 4 turnovers. Pena grabbed 4 rebounds and added 1 block.
    Grade: B-

  • Reggie Redding (16 min)

    Redding played solid basketball, handling the ball well and committing no turnovers. He made the only shot he took, and sank 1-2 free throws to score 3 points. He grabbed 3 rebounds and had 3 assists. He added 2 blocks and 2 steals on defense.
    Grade: B

  • Casiem Drummond (12 min)

    Drummond returned to action tonight after missing several crucial games with a foot injury. Casiem looked fairly good against South Florida, who admittedly is not the toughest competition. Drummond shot just 1-4 from the field, but shot well from the foul line to go 4-6. He also grabbed 7 rebounds in his limited action. Drummond did get into foul trouble and spent most of the game on the bench, but it was good to see him back on the court for the Wildcats.
    Grade: C+

  • Malcolm Grant (6 min)

    It's almost insulting the way Jay Wright is using Malcolm Grant this season. Wildcat fans should be glad that Grant has the patience to tolerate Wright's bumbling substitution patterns, but perhaps patience is one of Grant's virtues. Grant did, after all, prep for a year just for the opportunity to sit on the bench and watch lesser players be subbed in ahead of him all game. Grant saw mainly garbage-time action tonight, despite playing very well against Louisville. Maybe people disagree with me on this issue, but watching Villanova basketball games this year has become a whole lot less enjoyable knowing a talent like Grant is languishing on the bench. I am sure Villanova will get down by a sufficient number of points in one of its Big East Tournament games that we will see Grant again this year.
    Grade: Incomplete

  • Frank Tchuisi (3 min)

    It was good to see Frank get some playing time, but he remains the rawest of projects. Tchuisi is valuable as a practice player, but his basketball skills have yet to develop.
    Grade: Incomplete

  • Did not play: Jason Colenda (CD)

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At 12:54 AM, March 06, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

Sorry about missing the UL grades... I figured the live blog would be enough coverage. Let's Go Nova is back, however!

At 7:16 AM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next up Providence.... then the world!

At 7:27 AM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we have some unbiased Grant coverage?

The minutes Grant did see in the game last night were awful. He played sloppy and out of control.

Clark led our team in scoring last night. Grant led our team in scoring the game before. Okay.

Just please point out the good and the bad. The uninformed fan is starting to think Grant is the POY in the making based on Nova blogs.

At 9:51 AM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree absolutely. malcolm played sloppy last night and has recently when he has seen the floor.

At 10:30 AM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous LetItRainDwayne said...

anon and anon,
are you inferring that there was a nova player who didn't play sloppy last night?

At 11:25 AM, March 06, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

Malcolm saw basically garbage time last night. That's why his grade was incomplete. How about his excellent 23 minutes vs. one of the best teams in the country in Louisville?

At 3:07 PM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading the blog but I'm getting tired of the negative language you are using.. I'm pretty sure the coaches know more about the team than we do.. So lets be positive, we won the game even though we played pretty crappy..

At 3:12 PM, March 06, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

Thanks for reading... sorry you're not enjoying the negative language, but this is an opinion site. My goal is not to be positive or to be a cheerleader for the team; the mission of this blog is to provide one fan's perspective on Villanova basketball. That is not to say I don't want the team to succeed; I just think it is underperforming right now based on the talent available to Coach Wright.

At 3:57 PM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous ittakestime said...

We are definitley underperforming right now, but we have a young team with an extraordinary amount of talent. Pretty much every player on the team has led the team in scoring in one game or another, that goes to show that we have lots of talent. We just need to learn to control our streakiness and sloppyness, which will come with time.

We've got to win Providence, i really want to see the guys in the tourney this year. I'll be there rooting them on!

At 5:52 PM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironic - after watching the Louisville game I thought that what we are missing is an Earl Clark type player - athletic, quick, talented. Shane Clark - i believe - is the closest thing we have to that, but he plays at about 15% of his potential. Dwayne Anderson has been filling this role, though he doesn't have the natural athletic gifts of either of the Clarks. Shane stepped it up against USF, maybe its a fluke, maybe its because it's against a weaker opponent, or maybe Jay Wright realized this and motivated him somehow. If he can play like that he would be filling an important void on our team.

At 7:13 PM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with anon the commenter above... we need an athletic swingman.

Too often Pena tries to do this with wild dribbling. He should stick to what he does best. Redding just is incapable to fill the role because he isn't talented enough offensively. And Clark.. he SHOULD be capable of filling that role. He just needs to get tougher.

However I love Dwayne Anderson. I take back anything I ever said about him.. I just wish we had more than 1 more year left to enjoy him.

- imisskylelowry

At 7:14 PM, March 06, 2008, Anonymous imissKLisbanned said...

why would you ban me from leaving comments? grads shouldn't have a voice?

At 7:22 PM, March 06, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

No one has been banned...what are you talking about?

At 9:03 PM, March 07, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this forum is better without imisskylelowry.

good game by nova, lets contiune it.

-big d

At 12:03 AM, March 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyone's entitled to opinions..

At 12:44 AM, March 08, 2008, Anonymous Sean Don said...

'Nova 63
Providence 60

At 1:24 AM, March 08, 2008, Anonymous Big D aka Lets go Cats said...

nova 74
providence 66

At 6:47 PM, March 08, 2008, Anonymous Bruiser said...

The Friars take the momentum from UCONN and make the BE tourney

Friars 68
Cats 63

At 1:29 AM, March 09, 2008, Anonymous Big D aka i believe said...

ahhhhhhh give me the reconigtion for closest prediction.


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