3/27/2009 04:51:00 AM
#11 Villanova: 29-7
#6 Duke: 30-7
Villanova put together another excellent 40 minutes of basketball on Thursday to absolutely dismantle the 2nd-seeded Duke Blue Devils in Boston.
Villanova head coach Jay Wright thoroughly out-foxed the much-celebrated Coach K, whose Blue Devils had no answer for Villanova's high-pressure defense.
The Wildcats advance to the Elite Eight to face the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers, with a Final Four berth on the line.
Villanova-Pitt will tip at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Villanova overcame a slow start out of the locker room on Thursday to score 11 straight points after falling behind 5-0. The Wildcats took a three-point lead into halftime before totally dominating the second period by a margin of 20.
Villanova used its superior athleticism to generate a tremendous pressure defense and an edge on the boards. The Wildcats out-rebounded Duke by a tally of 49-34.
Villanova's manic defense held Duke's Gerald Henderson, a future NBA player, to a dismal 1-14 shooting. Blue Devil forward Jon Scheyer shot nearly as poorly, going 3-18.
On the offensive end, Villanova focused on shooting efficient shots with good looks. Forwards Dwayne Anderson, Dante Cunningham, and Shane Clark followed all misses with reckless abandon, helping the 'Cats pull in 13 offensive rebounds and put in a bunch of follow-up buckets.
Villanova once again played hard and crisp basketball for the entirety of the game, as the Wildcats had done against UCLA. After the game, Jay Wright attributed this consistency to an improving team.
Congratulations to reader "Pena Power" for most closely predicting the final score.
Villanova advances to the regional finals on Saturday for a game against top-seeded Pittsburgh. The winner of that game, of course, earns a trip to Detroit and the Final Four.
On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.
- Dante Cunningham (S, 33 min)
Cunningham was the best post player in the game by far, and luckily for the Wildcats he asserted himself as such. Dante shot a decent 5-13 from the field and a good 4-6 from the foul line to score 14 points. He led the 'Cats in rebounds, with 11, and blocked 1 shot. He committed just 1 turnover, which is excellent. He had 1 steal that led to a very nice fast break dunk.
- Reggie Redding (S, 32 min)
Player of the game -- and it's not even close. Redding was a force on defense. His help defense was so perfect, I took to watching him on every possession, just to appreciate how well he moved within the flow of the pressure D. He played efficiently on offense, shooting 4-7 to score 11 points. He added a helpful 9 rebounds, and led the team in assists with 4. He blocked 2 shots, stole 1 ball, and committed 2 turnovers. All-around outstanding play, but truly special on defense. Villanova will need a similar effort from Redding on Saturday to get past Pitt.
- Scottie Reynolds (S, 32 min)
Reynolds, plagued by minor wrist pain, finally got going a bit in the scoring department. Though he shot a mediocre 5-15, he was a perfect 4-4 from the line, and hit 2 of his 6 threes to lead the team with 16 points. Reynolds added 3 boards, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 turnovers, and 2 key steals. He made good decisions with the ball, and played well on defense. His 6 three-point attempts were all good shots, and 2 more of them could have easily fell. Villanova will need Reynolds to score against Pitt, especially since Blair might limit the Wildcats' interior offense.
- Dwayne Anderson (S, 26 min)
Anderson plays so hard and with so much passion. He always seems to be in the right spot for a tip, a follow, a lay-up, or a fast-break. Against Duke, he shot an efficient 4-8 from the field despite missing badly on his 2 three-point attempts. He grabbed 7 rebounds, passed for 2 assists, and turned the ball over just once. Anderson has developed from a practice player for Villanova into a real asset, an athletic weapon that can hardly be defended against. Along with Fisher, Anderson has become my favorite Wildcat to watch play.
- Corey Fisher (24 min)
Fisher managed to have a very positive impact on this game despite struggling a bit offensively. He shot a bad 1-6, including 0-3 from the three, but most of those were very good shots. He was 4-6 from the foul line. He added 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and handled the ball very well, committing just 2 turnovers. (No, I am not going to count that low-class ball-grab by Nolan Smith as the last 3 seconds ticked off the clock as a turnover.) Fisher's one basket came on a beautiful dribble drive with a nice pump fake at the end. Villanova is going to need Fisher to shoot better next time in Boston, but Fisher played well today despite the poor shooting percentage. His defense was so good I was surprised to see he only had 1 steal -- he likely caused several more turnovers with his pesky pressure.
- Shane Clark (S, 22 min)
Clark had some great moves in this game. He shot 3-5 to score 7 points. Clark grabbed 5 boards and notched 1 brilliant assist on a fantastic interior pass. The box score credits him with 0 turnovers, but he did actually make a turnover when a perfect Scottie Reynolds pass sailed through his hands. This has been a regular occurrence this year -- perhaps Villanova can spend a little more time on the passing drills with Clark before Saturday? Still, a very solid game from Clark.
- Corey Stokes (21 min)
Stokes looked good handling the ball today, despite the 3 listed turnovers. He shot 2-7 from the field and 1-4 from the three. He was perfect from the line at 2-2. He pulled in 4 rebounds, and added an assist and a block. Not the most explosive game from Stokes, but he played 21 solid minutes, including good defense. Look for Stokes to heat it up from the three at the next opportunity. A very unscientific "pattern" would seem to indicate that Stokes shoots much better the second game in an arena.
- Antonio Pena (8 min)
Pena was only in for 8 minutes but played very well. He shot 1-1 on a very nice dunk, and was a perfect 2-2 from the foul line as well. He added 3 rebounds in his limited time, and committed no turnovers and no fouls. Can't ask for much more than that in 8 minutes.
- Incomplete grades: Frank Tchuisi (1 min), Jason Colenda (1 min).
- Did not play: Maurice Sutton (RS), Russell Wooten (CD).