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15 February 2009

'Nova fails road test at WVU

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
2/15/2009 02:56:00 PM
Villanova 72
West Virginia 93
(box score)

#13 Villanova: 20-5 (8-4 BE)
West Virginia: 17-8 (6-6 BE)

Villanova got knocked down to earth on Friday night with an absolute debacle of a performance against the hungry WVU Mountaineers.

The Wildcats got blown out of the building, and still lack any kind of quality road win. The loss will hurt Villanova's NCAA tournament seeding, as a top-three seed now seems out of reach. Only a four-seed would now, seemingly, give VIllanova a good chance at being slotted in one of the two Philadelphia pods by the selection committee as a location-preferred protected seed.

The loss also puts Villanova squarely on the outside, looking in at a double-bye at Madison Square Garden. The 'Cats can still get there with a little bit of luck, however.

Finally, the 'Cats will not enter the top-ten tomorrow, as many had hoped. On the other hand, West Virginia vastly improved its at-large chances with the win, which would help the Big East get 9 or 10 teams into the dance.

Villanova tried to mount furious comeback after furious comeback, but there was no Malcolm Grant on the bench to come ball out the Wildcats. Eventually they fell short and relented, leading to the blowout loss.

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

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

  • Corey Fisher (31 min)

    Well, at least Jay Wright seems to have gotten the memo that Fisher can play. Looks like he was the last one to read it. Fisher led the team in minutes, finally. Given the "extra" minutes, Fisher led the team in scoring, of course, but more important was that he seemed like the only Wildcat who remained aggressive and confident despite the scoreboard. Fisher took it to the rim, and maintained hustle on both ends of the court, creating havoc on defense and finishing fast breaks. He shot 6-10, but missed both his threes, to score 17. Fisher ran the point for 30 minutes in a 21-point loss, yet turned the ball over just once. Doesn't that tell you that maybe the reason for loss came from issues at other positions? If Fisher doesn't start at the point the rest of the season, barring injury, Jay Wright should go back to Hofstra. Fisher finished with 2 assists and 3 rebounds.
    Grade: A-

  • Shane Clark (S, 29 min)

    This is my major problem with Jay Wright as a basketball coach: he is utterly reactionary. Just because Clark played very well the past two games does not make him a superstar worthy of 30 minutes of floor time when he is stinking up the joint. Does Wright have any sort of player-evaulation system aside from "go with what worked last time" and "go with the seniors"? It looks like he doesn't. And with Clark, those two philosophies proved to be a double-dose of failure as Wright insisted on leaving Clark on the court for long, unending stretches of offensive ineptitude. Clark found a nice little niche the prior two games by hustling and putting back misses. That's all well and good, but in measured doses. Against WVU, Clark's hands were where offensive possessions went to die. The numbers don't even tell the full story. Clark shot 2-5 from the field and 2-4 from the line, which is bad but not atrocious. The real problem, though, was the disruption of flow and rhythm on the offensive end. Clark doesn't seem to understand spacing, or where to pass, or when to dribble, or when to ball fake, or anything like that. On top of that, he moves S-L-O-W-L-Y. And the worst part of all was on the other end of the court. Clark allowed so many open jumpers, I lost count of them. He was slow to rotate on the perimeter, and often let penetrators drive right by him and past him. I swear I even saw him step out of the way a few times. None of this is really Clark's fault. I wouldn't have a major complaint if Wright kept him in for a few short stretches, reserving the major minutes except for when it was really working out. It wasn't working against WVU.
    Grade: D-

  • Corey Stokes (29 min)

    Stokes tried to get it going, and even though he took 10 shots, I think he should be taking more. He shot 5-10, including a good 3-6 from the three, to score 15 points. He added 5 rebounds, but had 0 assists or steals, and committed 2 turnovers. What Stokes needs to work on is ballhandling and moving more quickly without the ball. The defense looked as well as it could have in a blowout.
    Grade: B

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 28 min)

    Reynolds just couldn't get his shot going. That's going to happen sometimes. He shot 3-11, including 1-5 from the three to score 12. If three or four of those misses had gone in, the Wildcats might have been in a different ball game. Reynolds did not handle the ball well against the Mountaineers. He passed for just 1 assist and turned the ball over 5 times. He had 0 steals, and fouled out with 5 personals. This might be the worst game Reynolds has played since arriving on the Main Line three years ago. Things will certainly get better for Reynolds, especially if Wright lets him play the rest of the season at the two guard.
    Grade: D+

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 25 min)

    Despite Jay Wright's ridiculous, embarrassing lobbying for Dante to be Big East player of the year over the likes of much-better players like Jerel McNeal and Hasheem Thabeet, Cunningham is definitely in a minor slump lately. His rebounding is down a little, and he doesn't seem to be battling as aggressively for positioning down low. Cunningham, of course, remains one of Villanova's most important and best players. He got into minor foul trouble early on Friday, and his absence definitely cost the Wildcats dearly. But why did he have to sit so long? I think Wright was too cautious. Villanova was getting blown away with Dante on the bench. Dante picked up his second foul with 14 minutes to play in the first half, and didn't see the court for the rest of the half? Are you kidding me? That would have been ridiculous if we were winning, and it's patently absurd when the 'Cats are being blown out. Sitting Cunningham for the last 14 minutes of the first half might have cost Villanova the game. Oh, and by the way, Cunningham finished with just three fouls thanks to Wright's abundance of gutless caution. Cunningham shot 3-6 for 7 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and turned the ball over 4 times.
    Grade: C-

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 19 min)

    It was good to see Anderson able to play after his injury earlier this week. He did, however, look a step slow. He shot 2-5 for 5 points, but missed all 3 of his three-point attempts. He did grab 6 rebounds and 2 steals in limited action.
    Grade: B-

  • Reggie Redding (S, 19 min)

    Redding didn't have it Friday night, and probably shouldn't have played nearly 20 minutes. But the Wildcat bench is short, given the spate of recent transfers out of Villanova. Redding shot 1-3, had 4 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
    Grade: C-

  • Antonio Pena (18 min)

    Pena was ineffective from the field (0-2) and perfect from the line (4-4). But ZERO rebounds in 18 minutes? Come on.
    Grade: D

  • Incomplete grades: Frank Tchuisi (1 min).

  • Did not play: Russell Wooten (CD), Jason Colenda (CD), Maurice Sutton (RS).

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At 6:13 PM, February 15, 2009, Anonymous imisskylelowry said...

Welcome back Pete. I'm sure the Anons missed you.

At 8:12 PM, February 15, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If Fisher doesn't start at the point the rest of the season, barring injury, Jay Wright should go back to Hofstra."

When I read that, I laughed so hard milk came out my nose.

I think you should be giving Jay Wright a grade after every game. Would be nice to see your thoughts on him after a win.

At 10:45 PM, February 15, 2009, Anonymous MainLiner said...

I second the motion for grades on Jay Wright. Quite frankly, you are the only person who doesn't treat him as infallible. I'm saying I totally agree with how rough you are on Jay, but he's definitely not as great as everyone thinks he is.

At 10:07 AM, February 16, 2009, Anonymous Jason Colenda's angry mom said...

Why doesnt Jason PLay?!?!

At 5:56 PM, February 16, 2009, Blogger Matthew said...

Nova has plenty of chances at quality road wins. That said, I think a 4 seed is about what most would have expected, if not slightly better, going into this season.

At 9:04 PM, February 16, 2009, Blogger Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, Pete-

My recap for WVU is up now...

My thoughts on your grades...

"Fisher A- "


"Clark D-"

I strongly disagree here. Clark played reasonably well in a game that the two stars did not. He ended up with seven points, five boards and one turnover in 29 minutes, on 2-5 shooting, making the only triple he attempted. I don't think that's a D-. I would go as far as to give him a C+, C at the lowest. He's a role player, and he played his role competently.

That having been said, I recognize that not everything shows up in the box score. Defense isn't measured very well, because it only shows up in steals, blocks, and rebounds, and there's no way where you can tell whether someone gives up open jumpers (or how many). I think that your criticisms of him are very well thought-out and intelligent, even if I don't agree with them.

"Stokes - B"

Agreed. I might have gone B+, but think that either is fair.

"Reynolds - D+"


"Cunningham - C-"

Agreed. I think that the higher grade for him is justified b/c ultimately, DC stayed in the game (he ended up w/ only 3 PFs, ironically, after getting two in the opening minutes), and his shooting wasn't bad, and he rebounded. For 'Nova to win, he has to rack up some more points and boards, and not turn the ball over so much; this could be a C...

"Anderson - B-"

I'd go with a B+ here. Anderson was injured and played pretty well (I singled him out for praise in my post)….He brought what he had to the table.

"Redding - C-"

I would have gone with C+ (as you can see, I'm a more generous grader across the board). But he fouled out in a game where the two stars were in foul trouble and one player was injured, and he needed to stay on the floor. So I can see that C-.

"Pena - D"

I'd probably say C-, for his 4-4 from the line, the fact that he didn't foul out, and he only had one turnover. I agree completely that for a role player who role is to rebound, he has to get some rebounds if he's on the floor for 18 minutes, especially with DC on the bench for as long as he was.

"Tchuisi/Colenda - incompletes" -


Thoughts are welcome...

At 8:16 PM, February 17, 2009, Anonymous Normal Person said...

Villanova Viewpoint Publisher, thank you so much for that elevation of Pena's "D" grade to "C-" I'm sure that was worth your time.

At 1:17 PM, February 18, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have changed Pena from a D to a D+


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