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20 March 2009

'Nova avoids disaster with win over American

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/20/2009 02:18:00 AM
Villanova 80
American 67
(box score)

American: 24-8
#11 Villanova: 27-7

Villanova used a furious second-half run and some very accommodating officiating to hold off an American team that looked for much of the game like it might pull off a major upset.

The Wildcats opened up limp in the first half and trailed by 10 at the break. Villanova would fall behind by as many as 14 points in the second half before turning the game around.

Villanova played to its low-major opponent's strength for the first part of the game, settling for outside jumpers and not guarding the perimeter closely.

The Wildcats started pushing the ball inside more in the second half, when they also benefitted from some very early American foul trouble.

Villanova was in the bonus for the game's final 12:27. American's most dangerous player, Garrison Carr, picked up his fourth personal foul with more than eight minutes to play.

Overall, Villanova attempted 29 free throws in the game, while American received just five foul shots. Some of that disparity can be attributed to the team's differing offensive attacks, but the officiating was certainly favorable to the pseudo-home-team Wildcats, as well.

One major question tonight was the total absence of Antonio Pena, who did not see the court at all. Is Jay Wright shortening the bench just for the sake of post-season shortening?

Logic would dictate that when the two tallest post players in the major American rotation are 6-8, it would be a good move to give Pena even more time than usual, not less. Pena, after all, is the team's second-best post scorer.

Chalk it up to another Jay-Wright playing-time mystery. One would hope Wright had a good reason this time and that it was not just an illogical whim; but one could very well be disappointed clinging to that hope.

With the win, Villanova avoided what would have been one of the most embarrassing losses in school history. The Wildcats will need to play at much higher level, much more consistently, if they hope to beat a non-Patriot League team in this tournament.

Congratulations to reader "Pena Power" for most closely predicting the final score.

Next up for Villanova is what should be an epic match with UCLA on Saturday.

The Bruins have been to three consecutive Final Fours, and are ranked #10 in the country by KenPom, nine places ahead of Villanova. Even after factoring in Villanova's semi-home-court advantage, KenPom gives UCLA a 53 percent chance to win.

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

  • Reggie Redding (S, 36 min)

    One would have liked a bit more offensively out of Redding in 36 minutes versus a lesser-talented team. He was 1-4 from the field and 1-2 from the line. He was 1-3 on three-point attempts, including one very ill-advised shot. He grabbed 4 boards, passed for 1 assist, and had 1 turnover. He did not get any steals, but did lead the team in blocks with 4.
    Grade: C-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 36 min)

    Cunningham handled much of the team's scoring load, putting in 25 on 9-16 shooting. As usual, he was great inside and on the break, but terrible outside. He has got to stop shooting outside jumpers: for one, he is a terrible jumpshooter from outside of 16 feet, and two, when he is out of the paint shooting them, he can't be inside the paint looking for rebounds. Cunningham was a perfect 7-7 from the foul line, which was crucial to the victory. He grabbed 7 rebounds, passed for 2 assists, and blocked 3 shots. He did have 4 turnovers, which is unacceptable against such an unathletic frontcourt.
    Grade: B-

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 35 min)

    Reynolds struggled on the offense, but did find a way to get the job done in the game. He is just simply not suited to be a point guard, no matter how much Jay Wright tries to shoehorn him into the position. As noted by the announcers, Reynolds made terrible decisions with the ball, and indeed, the game did not turn around for the Wildcats until Fisher took over point duties. Reynolds shot 2-7 from the field and missed all 3 of his three-point attempts. He was 4-5 at the foul line. He dished out just 2 assists and committed 4 turnovers, but at least he had 3 steals. Villanova is going to need Reynolds in stride in order to score against Collison, Holiday, and Shipp, which might be the best defensive backcourt in America.
    Grade: C-

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 31 min)

    Anderson basically won the game for Villanova. It was a dream match-up for Anderson; American had no one who could deal with his size, speed, athleticism, and scoring ability. Anderson shot a super-efficient 9-10 from the field, including 4-5 from the three. He was perfect from the foul line, shooting 3-3. He led the team in rebounds, with 8, stole 1 ball, passed for 1 assist, and committed 3 turnovers. He ran the floor well and played with energy and intensity. This is the kind of play Villanova needs from Anderson if the Wildcats plan to make a deep tournament run.
    Grade: A

  • Corey Fisher (27 min)

    Along with Anderson, Fisher was the difference in this game. Fisher put the team on his back in the second half and willed the Wildcats to victory. How well he played definitely is not reflected accurately in the box score: Fisher shot just 1-5 from the field to score 11 points. Fisher, however, drew so many fouls with his aggressive penetration play that he almost got the Eagles in foul trouble single-handidly. Fisher was an excellent 9-10 from the foul line. He passed for a team-high 4 assists. His three turnovers were mitigated by his 3 steals. Fisher's defense was also excellent. My guess is that this game would never have been in question if Fisher played 37 minutes instead of 27.
    Grade: A-

  • Shane Clark (S, 19 min)

    Clark is the worst defender in the rotation by an order of magnitude. He allowed so many threes in the first-half by unnecessarily doubling down on American's 6-8 post players, I didn't know what to say. Clark handled the ball slowly and clumsily and generally was in the wrong places at the wrong times. He did have one very nice interior assist to Cunningham, I will give him that. He also was a perfect 2-2 from the foul line. But he was 0-2 from the field and was not even a remote threat to score. He only grabbed 3 rebounds, tied for the lowest on the team. He passed for 3 assists and did not have any turnovers. He did, however, kill two fast-breaks prematurely (by my count) when the ball was routed through his hands. Nineteen minutes for Clark and zero for Pena is not a winning formula for this NCAA tournament.
    Grade: D-

  • Corey Stokes (16 min)

    Stokes is actually Villanova's most efficient offensive player, statistically, and he needs more time on the court. Tonight, Stokes shot 2-6 from the field and a bad 1-5 from the three. He added 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 steal, and 1 block. I would like to see him in the 23-25 minute range next time.
    Grade: C-

  • Incomplete grades: None.

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

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At 7:31 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous JS said...

I think Stokes' playing time was cut down in this game simply because we did not want to continue going jump shot for jump shot with American, and Stokes is primarily a spot up shooter. Instead, we opted for a smaller backcourt that could penetrate and draw fouls. I would expect Stokes' PT to be back to normal against UCLA.

At 8:26 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous LHead said...

Why wouldn't you think he is spreading his relatively deep bench out to Saturday by keeping Pena's legs fresh? That decision should benefit us against UCLA.

At 8:27 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why must you always knock Jay? Are you that dumb? How come you are not critical of the American coach who let his team run out of gas? Its tournament madness we missed a lot of open looks. Jay's job is to win the game. Not give every player there minutes on the court. This is not HS or middle school. This is the NCAA tournament. Oh and guess what we won!

At 8:37 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Win or lose this loser goes after the coach.

Questionable Officiating...try watching the game pal.

You loser.

At 8:48 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete - Seems to me that you're eager to mention the lack of PT for Pena to fault Jay; but completely disregard that it was likely Jay's in-game adjustments that got the 'Cats back into the game and allowed them to dominate the second half.

At 8:53 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete is a stupid piece of shit, a St. Joe's fan, and a Nova hater. If someone sees him at the game, please punch him in the mouth for me.

At 9:32 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete, you could not get a job as a boy's basketball coach at a high school. I will give you $5,000 if you are able to get a job as a high school coach by the start of next bball season.

In return, if you can not, you need to quit all the uninformed criticism of Wright.

Deal? I'll contact you with my information if you agree.

At 10:02 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah... it was an "illogical whim" on Jay's part.....dude, you are a dumbass...no doubt....Do you think it's those illogical coaching whims that got us to 27 wins, finished 4th in the BE and going to the second round of the NCAAs?

At 10:26 AM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous GEESUS said...

hahah more Jay Wright bashing. I do not think the Pena benching is that big of a deal. He just cannot control his fouling when he is on the court. Plus we flat out dominated in the second half, so I am OK with what the coach did as far as adjustments. Jay Bones can only be held so liable when the likes of scottie have terrible games.

On a side note my Brother is in Philly for work and just happened to be staying at the hotel in Philly where the Cats are staying. He said yesterday he witnessed them walk into the lobby to a standing ovation. My brother is a BC grad so naturally he hated witnessing this.



At 11:09 AM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Eric said...

I've been to many of the games, including the tournament games in Tampa and Detroit last year. It is so refreshing to be around the real fans like you describe in the lobby. People who cheer for the team and believe in them. I get so sick of people, especially on the Rivals board, bashing the players. And on this site bashing the coach. Critique is one thing. Being hateful is what I don't get.

I have to keep reminding myself that 1) the internet brings out the worst, most cynical side of people, and 2) these goofballs writing comments aren't real fans, they're just looking for attention and they can only get it by tearing down someone who has accomplished much more than they have.

The real fans wait for hours in the lobby (been there) to cheer on the guys, win or lose.

At 12:30 PM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

"Hi Haters!"

Seriously, though --

You don't think it is a legitimate criticism to ask where Pena was, especially given American's lack of frontcourt size?

I think this is the kind of criticism -- fact-based, logical -- that would be welcome in the discussion no matter if you agree with me or not.

At 12:42 PM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Eric said...

I'm not a Pete hater, and I didn't see anything out of line in this write-up. I'm mostly fired up about the morons who pile on certain players. I enjoy the conversation here better than any other forum I've found. I do think your critique of Jay is over-the-top many times, but I don't so much care about defending him as I do the players. He's a pro and gets paid the big bucks. Being criticized comes with the territory. Personal attacks against the players, every one of whom is no doubt doing their dead-level best and works harder at what they do than any of us I'm sure, have no place among true fans.

At 1:11 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous IMKL said...

You guys are ridiculous.

This write-up is absolutely fine. The grades are great as well, maybe a bit higher for Dante, but that's nitpicking.

Questioning Pena not playing is completely legitimate. While I don't think he was someone who needed to play, he certainly should have warranted a look at some point in the first half while both Reynolds and Fisher were shooting us in the foot.

The game was not built for Clark or Pena last night though. We needed as many athletes who can handle the rock as possible. Unfortunately both of those players are terrible at that.

Anyway, this is one of the best recaps out of Pete. You "haters" (of which I am one some of the time) are losing your own credibility with questioning Pete's analysis here.

At 1:57 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous MainLiner said...

I'm surprised that you gave scottie such a high grade. I thought he nearly cost us the game. Although I bet it wouldn't have been so bad if he didn't have to worry about running the point and if he could just focus on getting open and scoring. Also, any of the other posters who thinks that the officiating was what hurt us is sadly mistaken. There were some debatable calls, but they went both ways, and we benefited from more than American did. Villanova has only our own play to blame for this one

At 3:13 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Pete is not much of a fan said...

Reggie basically says Pete isn't really much of a Villanova fan

"Still, there are those who will criticize Redding for what he's not, instead of applauding him for what he's become. Just because.

"I really don't listen to that," Redding insisted. "People are going to have their opinions. I don't have to go out and play for them. I play for my teammates and my coaches. If they're coming at me, saying I need to do this and do that, then that's what I'll do. They're the ones out there working hard with me every day. We're trying to do something special.

"If anyone's trying to knock us, then they're not much of a fan. That's just my opinion.""

At 3:15 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Mike said...

Fisher an A-????????? Did you forget the entire first half when he was absolutely terrible??????

You are definitely biased. And that's fine. But don't pretend that you are not.

At 3:36 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous IMKL said...

Mike. Fisher took over with Reynolds and did exactly what we needed them to do in the 2nd half, that is, consistently beat their defender with the dribble drive and get to the line.

IMO, you ignore the entire 1st half based on that, because that is what won us the game. Sure Dante and Dwayne were the ones finishing more often than not, but Fisher and Reynolds were the ones creating our offense and getting Carr in foul trouble.

Fisher deserves an A-, and it should've been an A if it wasnt for an absolute F in the 1st half. He didn't even play many minutes in the 1st half because he was terrible for the few minutes he was out there.

At 3:37 PM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Eric said...

@15 Thanks for posting that quote. I don't remember reading that article. Do you have a link?

At 3:48 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grade for Villanova as a team = C (we won the game albeit with a questionable approach of jumbshots against a smaller team.) Last night was not a Pena game my friend.

Again, RePete continues to favor the players he likes in this grading thing...it is meaningless.

I could care less how well Fisher or Shane play just so we win. Jay sees these guys every day. I have faith in him to pull the strings...AFTERALL HE IS THE ONE THAT IS NOW 8-4 IN THE NCAA TOURNEY WITH 3 OF THOSE LOSSES BEING TO THE EVENTUAL CHAMPS AND THE 1 IN 2007 IN A REBUILDING YEAR WHEN WE LOST MORE THAN 5,000 POINTS!

RePete constantly shows how little he knows about the game.

Smaller, quicker teams like American required guards playing with Dante and Dwayne -- not Pena.

What we should have been doing in the 1st half is trying for 20 seconds to pump it inside before using the 3 as the default. Instead we hoisted the 3s with 25 seconds on the clock. Almost fatal.

Lets go Wildcats! Lets have an identical outcome to our win over UCLA at the Ski Lodge in 2002!

At 3:49 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete...you don't think the players are actually talking about you do you? They could care less about you or any of the naysayers. They have only their coaches to answer to.

At 4:03 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous IMKL said...

Anon #20, when did Pete say that? WTF?

Anons, you are losing all credibility. I can't believe I'm coming to the defense of Pete. This is bizarro world.

At 4:06 PM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...


I don't think many of the anons can read all that well.

Haha, as if I ever said the players are talking about me.

At 4:14 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous I LOVE NOVA said...

Here you go

At 5:12 PM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Eric said...

What a great article. Could a coach ask for a better attitude? Man, it's fun to pull for these guys, because there's not a punk in the bunch.

At 5:23 PM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Pete said...

Well that's nice, Eric --

but what do you really expect? Most major college programs don't have their players spouting attitude to the media.

At 5:37 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete, my offer in 7 still stands. I'm absolutely serious. Deal?

At 5:44 PM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Eric said...

Well, let's see, Pete. Maybe I'm as naive as you imply, or maybe I'm taking into account my own observations of Reggie's hustle and unselfishness over the last three years as well as a few personal interactions. So in my opinion (which is after all what we're sharing here, right?), this article is not a fluff piece, but an accurate description of Reggie's transformation into a team-first defensive monster and smart distributor. I understand that these guys are coached to say the right things to the press, but in the case of this article, I know of no reasons not to take it at face value. Do you? Or are you just being cynical?

At 6:41 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo Pete we should meet up sometime and I will fight you okay! I am sick of you using this to get people to visit this pathetic blog. This blog got nothing on VUHOOPS! So come on I am dead serious I will fight you. Name a place and time punk!

At 6:50 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Mr. Balboa said...

"You gotta be a moron... You gotta be a moron to wanna be a fighter."

At 3:02 AM, March 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really get a good laugh at all the hater comments... Pete's review is on point. Both the players and Jay's coaching were mediocre at best against America.

At 10:48 AM, March 21, 2009, Anonymous Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:54 AM, March 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can the person who repeatedly calls Pete "Re-Pete" please stop existing. Do you think that is clever?

At 11:13 AM, March 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Pete I don't have tickets but if I did it would be fun to fight you at halftime and take your ear as a souvenir

At 11:14 AM, March 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete is post #30

At 8:21 PM, March 21, 2009, Blogger Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

#31 was impersonating me, as you can clearly see by the lack of logged in Blogger logo.

Anyone who challenges someone else to fight over a blog has some bigger issues than whatever he is upset about on the Internet.



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