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28 March 2008

Questions from a Kansas fan

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/28/2008 02:48:00 AM
Cory over at Rock Chalk Talk e-mailed me this week with a list of questions about this year's Villanova team and my take on the game.

(Also see NovaFan09's keys to the Villanova-Kansas game.)

Below is a transcript of the questions and answers, with Cory's questions in the blockquotes and my responses in normal text. I sent Cory a list of questions about Kansas, which I hope to also publish before the game.

1. Going into Selection Sunday, you guys were certainly on the bubble. In fact, I actually had you guys as my last team out, putting in Arizona State instead. So, on Selection Sunday did you expect to get into the Dance, or were you on the edge of your seat all day long waiting for the news?

We actually held a week-long bubble vigil on the site. After several important games went our way, I was fairly certain that with a split in the two Sunday title games (SEC and B10), Villanova would be in. We got the split and got one of the last spots in. It certainly was a little close for comfort, but personally I was fairly confident going into the selection show, if only because I spent most of the week prior analyzing the bubble to a degree far beyond even the traditional sports media

2. Scottie Reynolds is clearly the star of the Villanova Wildcats, but who else should Jayhawk fans watch out for?

Freshman guards Corey Fisher (#10) and Corey Stokes (#24) could each go off. Fisher is a penetrating point guard who loves to get to the rim, while Stokes is a jump shooter. I would also suggest junior Dante Cunningham (#33), Villanova's best interior player, but Kansas's dominating front line should keep him in check. If Villanova gets down big time, you might watch out for freshman guard Malcolm Grant (#3). Grant single-handedly won Villanova the LSU game in December, which was one of the biggest comebacks in college basketball history.

3. What is the Wildcats' biggest strength as a team? In other words, if the Wildcats pull off the upset Friday night and beat KU, it will be because of...what?

Guard play and defense are by far the team's best attributes. The only way Villanova beats the Jayhawks is if at least two guards explode and the Wildcats play good shut-down defense. Villanova cannot compete with Kansas's big men, but I like the Wildcats' chances if the game is a shootout between the guards.

4. On the same thread as #3; What is the Wildcats' biggest weakness?

The two biggest weaknesses for Villanova are interior offense and scoring droughts. When the guards are not hitting their jumpshots or dribble drives, the team can go long stretches without scoring, as there is little to no interior offense to speak of. Lately, fouls have also been troublesome for the Wildcats.

5. Entering the season, and for much of the non-conference portion of the schedule, you guys were ranked and were fully expected to make the tournament. However, after your five-game losing streak, most expected you to be left out on Selection Sunday, and even if you snuck in to bow out in the first round. Given the high expectations entering the season, as well as the mid-year struggle, would you consider this season a success now that you are in the Sweet 16? Or did you expect to get this far all season long?

Looking at teams like Duke, Clemson, USC, and Vanderbilt, it's pretty clear to me that any time you make it to the Sweet 16, it is a success. To take it a step further, most fans considered the season successful when we made the NCAA Tournament, especially considering the mid-season struggles. Villanova has no seniors, so everyone should be coming back next year. Four straight NCAA trips and three Sweet 16s in the past four years sets the stage nicely for further postseason contention down the line. I can understand that for a team ranked all year in the top 5, like Kansas this year and Villanova in 2006, a Sweet 16 exit would be a bit troublesome, but this year for the Wildcats, we are happy to just be there.

6. How does the loss of Casiem Drummond, who broke his right ankle on Sunday and will be out for the season, affect Villanova?

The only real effect Drummond's injury has will be the front-court depth in terms of fouls to give. Drummond looked great early in the year before sustaining a stress fracture in December. With Drummond gone for the Kansas game, Villanova will have 5 fewer fouls to give in the frontcourt, but he was not a part of our recent rotation.

7. One last question: What do you see happening on Friday night?

The most likely outcome is a Kansas win, of course. If both teams play to their talent level, Kansas should win. But Villanova is one of the strongest 12-seeds in tournament history, and has the talent to run with anyone in the country. If 'Nova's guards get hot and the threes are falling, an upset would not be out of the question.

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At 10:56 AM, March 28, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would definitely had included free throw shooting as a "strength" of Villanova.

At 11:35 AM, March 28, 2008, Anonymous VillanovaViewpoint.com Editor said...

Hello, Pete-

Great work on that QandA with Cory from Rock Chalk Talk. The opportunity to have respectful dialogue and exchange of information with our opponents' fans and bloggers, is one of the most significant benefits of the Internet, in terms of covering sports.

Also, in my Kansas Preview, I've put a link to both this post and the outstanding one beneath it, by NovaFan09. The links are near the top of my preview, which is linked at the bottom of this comment.

Here are my two cents on your answers to Cory's questions:

1) Bubble analysis

Obviously, it was good to have your optimistic view of the bubble situation vindicated on Selection Sunday. Perhaps due to the long string of Selection Sunday disappointments in the first half of this decade (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), I was braced for an NIT. Obviously, not all of those NIT teams were serious bubble prospects, particularly the 2003 team which had the scandal at the end of the season. But an extra win might have gotten a couple of the others in.

My own bracket had Villanova as the last team in - with the major IF being that Georgia had to lose the SEC title game to free up the bid. Once the Bulldogs won, I took us out of the bracket - but was thrilled to be wrong.

2) Other Wildcats to watch for -

agreed. One intriguing aspect of this squad - intended as a rebuilding year - is that the diversification of threats makes it difficult for opponents to focus on any true "second option".

3) Guard play and defense.

I would add rebounding (relative to the team's small-stature frontcourt), but otherwise agreed.

4) Weaknesses.

I agree that interior offense and droughts are the biggest problems.

5) On whether the season has been successful.

I concur with you that most observers - including myself - were happy to just receive a bid this season. We lost three of our four top players from last year (Nardi, Sheridan, and Sumpter). Although our SOS was properly lowered in light of that fact, we play in a very difficult conference, and also have the challenges posted by our friends in the Philadelphia Big Five during each City Series. (BTW - I think that the City Series is a great thing for all of the schools involved and it was outstanding news to hear back in 2000, that it would resume in its full round-robin format.)

Nobody would have been disappointed had we gone to the NIT. The fact that this team has gotten to the Sweet 16 makes them overachievers. I make this point in my own preview - if Villanova wins this would be one the greatest upsets in Villanova NCAA history, almost as good as the ones in '85.

6) Drummond's absence.

Your summary of Drummond's role is accurate. We'd prefer to have his fouls available, but it won't be likely to have a decisive impact on the outcome.

7) Prediction - upset possible, Kansas victory likely.

Agreed. One pleasant aspect of this is that all of the pressure is on Kansas (they haven't been to a Final Four since Williams' last team in 2003, the one that lost to Syracuse in the final.) We're happy to be there, and the subsequent absence of pressure might be a good intangible in our favor.

Anyhow, you and your readers can check out my VU/Kansas preview at:


I'll be curious to hear your take on it.

Go Wildcats!

At 11:37 AM, March 28, 2008, Anonymous VillanovaViewpoint.com Editor said...

As it turned out, the URL was too long to fit in your comment window. To read the Kansas/Villanova preview, just click my signature link on either this comment or the one above, and it'll take you there.

At 12:18 PM, March 28, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading and listening to most of the "pundits" and the overwhelming consensus is that we don't have a chance. That puts us in a great position, minimal down side and huge upside.

One key that I am concerned about is the number of fouls on our front court. We can't afford to loose anyone, particularly Cunningham. Our guys competed well against GT, UCON, and PITT all of whom outsized us; if we can do the same with KU we have a good shot at one of the biggest upsets since '85.

Go 'Cats.....

At 5:33 PM, March 28, 2008, Blogger Danny said...

that guy sounded like a douche

At 10:28 PM, March 28, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone tell antonio pena to stop dribbling the ball so damn much

At 12:14 AM, March 29, 2008, Anonymous Gregg said...

I acknowledge that Kansas was the better team, but that was our worst played game since St. Joes in February.

At 12:22 AM, March 29, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

we never shoot well in these huge arenas.

it was a bad omen when scottie missed his first two 3 pt attempts which were wide-open. we needed to be hitting 3s to compete

great year nova, can't wait til the preseason tournies kick off!

At 12:57 AM, March 29, 2008, Anonymous Lip said...

I'm proud of the guys.

Thanks for a great season Scottie and the guys.

At 6:57 AM, March 29, 2008, Anonymous Michael said...

Very sloppy game from nova yesterday. We could have had a possible chance if we didn't throw the ball away so many times.

At 10:36 AM, March 29, 2008, Anonymous Big D aka lets go Cats said...

overall i am so proud of villanova...last year i got really upset for days wen they lost to kent, but now...i feel fine. when you dont expect them to go far they do and i congrats the team for making it this far.

Cya next season bros

At 12:39 PM, March 29, 2008, Blogger Gregory said...

Solid year, the future is bright, and at least Reynolds will stay another year now...

Take care for now,

At 1:23 AM, March 30, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

Hey everyone.... tough loss. Kansas was clearly the better team. I am out of town all weekend, but should do a NCAA recap when I get back.

At 12:27 PM, March 30, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looked sloppy, but the second half was much more competitive than the first. I think our guys played about as well as they could, and with as much effort as they could.... KU is an extremely talented, experienced team.

Thanks to the team for a good year. We are anticipating a great next year...

Thanks to the authors for keeping this Blog going all year, it is very important to those of us far from the Philly area.....

See you next year.

At 11:29 PM, March 30, 2008, Anonymous cman said...

wheres malcolm Grant

where is he. and now hopefully you morons know why i said cunningham, clark, redding, and anderson suck.

1 BIG GUY on the inside...thats all we need, maybe two.

keep pena in the mix, toss those other deadbeats thats peak is mediocraty..and boom we got a team

reynolds, fisher, stokes, grant

thats our team...these other guys are second class citizens. trade em all for two big guys and we got a national championship team.

-Cunninghams gunna be pickin up phones for a living in a couple of years. please realize that hes nothing if we're gunna play him as a bigman which is all hes gunna be for us. hence, hes nothing, get over it nova fans...this guys nothin better than a 3rd or fourth man off the bench for kansas

-cman out

At 10:29 AM, March 31, 2008, OpenID bosshoghazzard said...

Cman, I like some of what you said. Pena and Cunningham as PF, never as a center. With Drummond, we have a center. However, it seems that injuries plague Jay's players and avoiding injury will give us the best shot at a title. So, where was Malcom Grant for the end of the season? Can someone please clarify? I saw only what he did on the court which was NASTY. Was it that he couldn't practice like he played? I don' believe that Cory F. is that much better. So I throw that out.
We played like the young team that we were against Kansas. Costly turnovers and poor shot selection. If Davidson can hang with KU, then we should be able to do the same.
We will start the season ranked in the top 20, and without injury, will end ranked #1 in the world.

Great season. From barely in to Sweet 16, almost too much drama, but I'll take it.

Also, I would not mind getting Tyreke. I don't care if he is a ballhog, so is Scottie. But Scottie is good, so its ok. Tyreke is even better, so lets hope we get him.

I am now rooting for KU to win the national championship. How many programs can say that they have lost to the eventual national champion in 3 of the past 4 tourneys? We can! Go Nova.

At 2:11 PM, March 31, 2008, Anonymous Gregg said...

Once again, forget about Tyreke Evans. You will see that he will go to Memphis in the next few weeks. He won't even be good with college defenders on him.

As for next season, Cunningham and Anderson should both be kept, along with Pena. Jay should incorperate more alley oops into the offense, and all three of them are capable of getting up there and throwing it down. It worked like a charm against us for Kansas.
Also, we need at least two big men on the court at all times, especially Drummond.

If they smartly rest Drummond until he is 100%, then they could easily make it to the final four, and possibly win a championship.

At 6:16 PM, March 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to the team for a strong finish to the season.

Thanks to Pete & associates for keeping up the blog.

Pete - I'm looking forward to your recap, it will bring me some closure.

At 9:31 PM, March 31, 2008, Anonymous gill said...

wow cman i cant believe what you said about dante and the other bigs.

dante and dwayne especially, we wouldnt stand a chance against anyone without them. They are our glue and extremely solid good workers. dante constantly puts up good numbers, we'd be nowhere without him. of course scottie is the star 3pt shooter and penetrater, but thats not all there is to the game.

At 9:32 PM, March 31, 2008, Anonymous gill said...

and i'm really not upset with this season. It ended kind of on a bad note, but we made it to the sweet 16 which did not seem possible! overall, im very happy.

At 2:34 AM, April 01, 2008, Anonymous Lip said...

Hey Gregg!!! Why so sure of yourself about Tyreke to Memphis. It seems that way, but word is he's making a visit to Nova before he commits. What's the deal??

At 11:43 AM, April 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...


will you please stop smoking those funny cigarettes!!!


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