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20 October 2011

Let's Go Nova available as archive

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
10/20/2011 03:09:00 AM
Let's Go Nova is no longer updated, but remains available in archive form.

Go 'Cats!


23 June 2009

Foye likely to be traded to Wizards

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
6/23/2009 10:48:00 PM
[Let's Go Nova is on summer break, but we will continue to update for important breaking news.]

According to an ESPN report, former Wildcat Randy Foye will be traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Washington Wizards in a deal that includes the 5th pick in Thursday's draft.

Says ESPN:

The Washington Wizards are close to a deal that would send the No. 5 pick in Thursday's draft, Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller, a league source told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher on Tuesday. [...] The trade hasn't been consummated yet because of a clerical point that Etan Thomas needs to handle, a source told Katz.

According to the ESPN Magazine report, the trade will probably become official tomorrow, one day before the draft.

The trade would bring Foye, a Newark, N.J. native, back to the East Coast. Foye was drafted by Minnesota after his senior season at Villanova in 2005.

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22 June 2009

New SeanDon video hits airwaves!

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
6/22/2009 07:07:00 PM
[Let's Go Nova is on summer break, but we will continue to update for important breaking news.]

At this point, the one-man Villanova video vanguard known cryptically as SeanDon needs no introduction.

He also needs no second, supporting paragraph.

His latest video, available below in the traditional embedded YouTube player, focuses on Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, he of the late-game NCAA tournament heroics this spring.

Watch it.

The video is SeanDon's first work since his excellent 2008 Philadelphia Phillies "Shoot to Thrill" highlight piece.

I give that video a solid A, but no A+, because it gives insufficient credit to the most magical moment of the 2008 -- or ANY -- World Series, Taylor Swift's national anthem in Game 3.

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09 June 2009

Reynolds withdraws from NBA draft

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
6/09/2009 11:56:00 AM
[Let's Go Nova is on summer break, but we will continue to update for important breaking news.]

Scottie Reynolds has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will return to Villanova for his senior season, according to a press release from campus today.

Last season, Reynolds led Villanova to its first Final Four since 1985, and then decided to test the draft waters in April. After working out for about half-a-dozen NBA teams, Reynolds decided to withdraw from the pro draft.

"The best decision for me is to return to Villanova for my senior year," said Reynolds. "I'd like to thank everyone who put their time into helping me get better during these NBA workouts. I especially want to thank my teammates and coaches here for all of their support. I felt like I learned a great deal from this process."

Villanova head coach Jay Wright praised Reynolds and his decision-making process.

"Scottie took a very mature and intelligent approach to this process," said Wright. "He prepared himself thoroughly for each workout and absorbed everything he could from them. This was a tremendous learning experience for him and now he is focused on becoming a great senior leader in our program. He has great respect for the tradition here and I know he'll embrace this role."

Villanova basketball, of course, will resume this fall.

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21 April 2009

Reynolds declares for NBA draft

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/21/2009 01:51:00 PM
Scottie Reynolds will enter his name to this year's NBA draft, according to a press release from Villanova University.

Reynolds, a junior guard and arguably the Wildcats' most valuable player, does not plan to hire an agent, and thus his departure from the team is not yet certain.

Reynolds will be able to attend draft workouts and gauge where he might be selected if he decides to remain in the NBA draft, which will be held in New York on June 25.

"Scottie and I have decided that it would be smart for him to experience NBA workouts at this time," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright.

Wright also said that Reynolds will complete all his spring semester classes to ensure NCAA compliance if Reynolds decides to return to Villanova for his senior year.

If Reynolds remains in the draft, Villanova will lose four starters from its 2009 Final Four team: Reynolds, Dante Cunningham, Dwayne Anderson, and Shane Clark.

According to NBADraft.net, Dante Cunningham is expected to be selected in the early second round of the draft, which usually means a player will be fighting for a spot on the team roster.

NBADraft.nets's mock draft has not been updated after Reynolds's announcement, but it seems likely that Reynolds, if he is drafted, would fall somewhere after Cunningham.

Villanova returns point guard Corey Fisher and shooting guards Reggie Redding and Corey Stokes for next season. In the frontcourt, forward Antonio will be back. Joining the Wildcats will be four freshmen: point guard Maalik Wayns, shooting guard Dom Cheek, small forward Isaiah Armwood, and power forward Mouph Yarou. Duke transfer Taylor King, another small forward, also joins the team after sitting out one year, as does redshirt freshman forward Maurice Sutton.

Personally, I expect Reynolds to be back for his senior season. I do not see him going anywhere near the first-round and its guaranteed salaries.

Whether or not Reynolds returns will have a major impact on the Wildcats' pre-season and early-year rankings; though a Reynolds departure would ease some of the logjam in the backcourt for the younger players.

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05 April 2009

UNC outclasses Villanova

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/05/2009 01:34:00 AM
North Carolina was simply the better team tonight.

The Tarheels won easily, putting away the Wildcats by a score of 83-69

Villanova, which trailed by nine at the half, was able to cut the lead down to five early in the second period. Carolina, however, responded instantly, with a quick 5-0 mini-run to put the lead back to double digits.

After that, the Tarheels never looked back.

If North Carolina is able to defeat Michigan St. on Monday -- and UNC is the tremendous favorite to do so -- Villanova will have lost to the eventual national champion in four out of the last five tournaments:
  • 2005: North Carolina
  • 2006: Florida
  • 2008: Kansas
  • 2009: North Carolina (possible champion)
Let's Go Nova's full recap and game grades will be available later.

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04 April 2009

Villanova faces UNC in Final Four

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/04/2009 03:41:00 AM
#11 Villanova (30-7) vs. #2 North Carolina (32-4)
8:47 p.m., 4 April 2009 at Ford Field.


Line: UNC -7.5

Game day has arrived.

One week ago, Scottie Reynolds secured his place in history with a buzzer-beater to defeat Pittsburgh and send Villanova to the Final Four.

It's been a fun week, looking forward to this game, Villanova's first Final Four since the 1985 championship season.

North Carolina. In the Final Four. If there were polls this week, the Tarheels would surely be ranked number one in the nation. Villanova would be in the top five.

It does not get bigger than this.

We already talked about the history between these two teams from 2005.

We know Vegas likes Carolina by 7.5 points, and KenPom predicts a 4-point margin, with a 66 percent chance of victory for UNC.

We've listed the keys to the game, what Villanova needs to do to pull off the upset.

All that's left to do is predict the final score.

Check out the other Villanova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then try to predict the game's final score in the comment thread below.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of UConn and Michigan St. in the national championship game on Monday. Holy crap.

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03 April 2009

How can Villanova win?

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/03/2009 03:31:00 AM

Yesterday, the Rush the Court college basketball blog asked me to contribute a guest post to its site on how Villanova could win on Saturday.

Make no mistake about it: Villanova is the underdog tomorrow. North Carolina is favored by 7.5 points in Vegas and by 4 points by KenPom (with a 66 percent chance of victory).

More intuitively, common sense tells us the Tarheels are the superior team. North Carolina features five likely future first-round draft picks: Ed Davis, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Ellington, and Ty Lawson will all cash big NBA paychecks.

Villanova might sneak Dante Cunningham into this year's second round, but that's pretty much it in terms of NBA prospects as of right now. (Corey Fisher, Scottie Reynolds, and Corey Stokes are also plausible NBA candidates, but are not quite there yet.)

The Tarheels have lost just four games this season, compared to seven for Villanova. While the Wildcats squeaked by Pittsburgh last weekend in one of the all-time great NCAA tournament games, North Carolina blew out Blake Griffin and Oklahoma, with a 12-point margin of victory in a game that was not even that close.

Carolina has not really been challenged in the tournament so far, winning four blow-outs. Villanova trailed American by double digits in the second half before coming up with the win. The 'Cats also played Pittsburgh to a virtual draw for 39 minutes and 55 seconds before Scottie Reynolds entered the pantheon of great NCAA tournament buzzer-beaters to win the game.

Villanova was able to blow out both UCLA and Duke, which is a good sign.

North Carolina also will enjoy a tremendous coaching edge. I don't care how much you like Jay Wright; Roy Williams is one of the all-time greats. I don't think there can be much debate about that.

Positives for Villanova include a rapid, intense improvement in quality of play late in the season, a versatile bunch of players who can multi-task on the court, a superior half-court defense, and a likely favorable crowd in Detroit, especially if MSU wins the opener.

Conventional wisdom also says that the Wildcats play "tougher" than the 'Heels, but I am not so sure toughness matters so much when your opponent has a lineup full of NBA players. (I do think it matters some.) We shall see.

So, in the face of these long odds, how can Villanova actually win the game?

Though the Wildcats probably won't have to play the much-vaunted "perfect game" like their predecessors did in 1985 to beat Georgetown, it's clear that this game will require an effort well above-average from Villanova.

If both teams bring their "A" games, Carolina wins. But if Villanova can play to its strengths while taking advantage of Tarheel missteps, it could be the Wildcats playing on Monday night for a spot in history.

"READ MORE" below for the keys to the game, as I see them.

  • Convert on open threes. Allowing uncontested three-pointers might be Carolina's Achilles' (Tar)heel. UNC let Oklahoma take several wide-open shots behind the arc, but the Sooners could not put them in. Hitting those long shots will be an absolute prerequisite for any Wildcat win on Saturday. Fortunately, Villanova has the firepower to take advantage of this. Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes are all excellent three-point shooters; Dwayne Anderson and even Shane Clark can put them in if they get going. Though Reynolds and Fisher have struggled from long-range in the tournament so far, perhaps their 2008 experience at Ford Field's "arena" will allow them to heat up quickly.
  • Win the battle on the glass. This isn't just a cliche. Of course, it's always important to grab rebounds in any game, but it's especially crucial on Saturday. Rebounding is one of the few areas where Villanova might be equally talented as the Tarheels, so the Wildcats need to create an advantage there. Wayne Ellington may be a better scorer than Reggie Redding by orders of magnitude, but there's nothing to suggest he is a better rebounder. Winning the rebounding battle will also give the Wildcats' less efficient scorers more chances to put points on the board, and limit UNC's offensive opportunities. Villanova does tend to play tough, smart, efficient basketball, whereas UNC relies on more of a shock-and-awe attack, overwhelming their opponents with points. Villanova definitely wants this game to be a battle of attrition, not a shootout, and rebounding is the first step to controlling the game's tempo and style.
  • Limit Wayne Ellington. Ellington's play may be the key to Carolina's margin of victory or defeat. He is the most dangerous third scoring option in the nation. Oftentimes when teams concern themselves with limiting Ty Lawson's penetration and Tyler Hansbrough's play in the post, Ellington burns them on the perimeter. Villanova is full of athletic big guards who can stay with Ellington should he try to drive to the basket; Reggie Redding, Corey Stokes, and Dwayne Anderson should all be up for the task. Where Ellington will be most dangerous is spotting up for three-pointers, whether in transition, off screens, or off a Lawson drive. It's the latter case about which I am most concerned. The temptation will be great for Nova's wing defenders to collapse in on Lawson as he progresses to the basket, and in many cases they will need to. But the one player they simply cannot leave open behind the arc is Ellington.
  • Hope Lawson is a step slow. Villanova has a lot of trouble with speedy point guards. The Wildcats have lost this year to Texas (AJ Abrams), UConn (AJ Price), Marquette (Dominic James), and Georgetown (Chris Wright). Even in their two wins over Syracuse, Jonny Flynn gave the Wildcats fits from the perimeter. Lawson, at his best, is faster and better than any of the guards mentioned here. Fortunately for Villanova, Lawson is recovering from a toe injury, and might not be as speedy as usual. Though he is the player of the tournament so far, Lawson has been getting it done with shooting and passing rather than on his trademark explosions to the rim. Villanova has the personnel to deal with the former two attacks, but has lots of trouble with the latter. If Lawson is not at 100 percent of his speed, the chances for a Villanova win increase dramatically.
  • Limit turnovers. This one is obvious. Carolina loves to run. The Tarheels have the horses to do it. No one can stop UNC in transition. Less obvious, though, is the fact that more turnovers by Villanova means fewer possessions that the Wilcats' advantage in the half-court defense can be applied -- on either end. One of the few areas where the 'Cats have an edge over UNC is in the half-court on defense. If UNC can render that moot by jumpstarting its offense via transition, the game will be over quickly. Similarly, the Tarheels' half-court defense is not as good as Villanova's, but that won't matter if the 'Cats forfeit possessions with turnovers.
If the Wildcats are able to execute most of those five keys to the game, a victory and a trip to the national championship on Monday would be well within reach.

What do you think the keys to the game are? Let us know in the comment thread below.

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02 April 2009

Countdown to the Final Four!

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/02/2009 02:18:00 PM
Villanova's return to the Final Four, 24 years in the making, is now just over two days away.

Game time is set for Saturday, April 4, at 8:47 p.m.

Before we get into the more serious game previews tomorrow, allow me to give you that beloved mainstay of trashy MySpace sites everywhere, the blinged-out Flash countdown timer!

See the top right sidebar for the high-tech countdown timer.

Use this comment thread to discuss just how excited you are for the game.

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01 April 2009

Wayns, Cheek play McDonald's A.A. game tonight

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/01/2009 06:10:00 PM
Even though the 2009 season is gloriously still ongoing for Villanova, Wildcat fans can get a sneak peak at two of the team's best incoming players for next season in the annual McDonald's high school all-American game tonight.

Guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek, both Villanova commitments, will play together on the East squad.

The game airs live tonight at 8 p.m. from the University of Miami, and will be broadcast nationwide by ESPN.

Wayns and Cheek join fellow high-school stars Dexter Strickland, Lance Stephenson, Kenny Boynton, and Derrick Favors to face the all-stars from the West.

Memphis recruit DeMarcus Cousins, whose matriculation might now be in jeopardy with John Calipari leaving for Kentucky, is also a member of the East squad.

The West team is led by Memphis-signee Xavier Henry, generally considered the top player in the country. The North-Carolina bound Wear brothers, David and Travis, are also on the West team.

The official site uses annoying-as-hell Flash, horrible music, and (no joke!) floating cartoon bubbles spewing Dick Vitale's voice on every page, so here is a screenshot of the rosters, for your sanity:

Wayns and Cheek will join forwards Mouph Yarou, Isaiah Armwood, and Taylor King as Villanova's fab five in 2009-2010.

With the possible dissolution of Memphis's unheard-of-good recruiting class (Cousins, Henry, and likely John Wall), Villanova's four freshmen might be the very best class in the nation next season.

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Anon. commenters vindicated

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/01/2009 02:00:00 AM

Bowing to pressure from an increasingly powerful gallery of anonymous commenters, the popular Villanova basketball blog Let's Go Nova will shut down immediately, according to the site's publisher.

Though it would seem unusual to shutter the blog in the middle of a Villanova Final Four run, with site traffic setting new records every day, blog owner Pete @ LetsGoNova.com cited the sheer eloquence of the anonymous commenters' arguments as the decisive factor.

"I've had a good run these past three years," said Pete, "but the last few weeks have really shown me the light. I had no idea just how dangerously unqualified I was to run an Internet blog -- which is, after all, serious business -- until it was patiently and logically explained to me in the comment section."

The move to close down the site comes amidst several swirling controversies, the most serious an ongoing maelstrom of discussion as to the fictional choice between current Villanova head coach Jay Wright and former Villanova coach Steve Lappas.

"I thought people would be more interested in talking about the amazing string of victories Villanova has put together in the NCAA tournament, but I gravely miscalculated," said Pete.

"I see now that my flippant remark two weeks ago about not minding a hypothetical and impossible Lappas return is much more newsworthy and relevant to Villanova fans than even winning the national championship," admitted Pete.

Dubbed "RePete" by his many detractors, Pete said that closing the blog will give him time to accomplish many of the things in life he's only now realized he'd been lacking.

According to various anonymous commenters, Pete has never played organized basketball, doesn't know anything about basketball, has never even seen a basketball, and, most disturbingly, has never experienced the sweet caress of a woman's touch.

"These are all things I would like to try one day, God willing," admitted a remorseful yet cautiously hopeful Pete.

"I want to thank the anonymous commenters for showing me the folly of my ways," he said.

Shortly after closing the site, Pete posted a tearful goodbye video to thank his few supporters during the course of the publishing the blog.

Speaking on behalf of anonymous commenters across the site, an anonymous spokesman offered a prepared statement in reaction to the news:


The anonymous spokesman then exited the site to read the latest Bill Simmons column, steadfastly refusing to click on any advertisements on his way out of the now-defunct Let's Go Nova home page.

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30 March 2009

\V/ for \V/endetta?

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/30/2009 01:48:00 AM
Well, not really.

Although Villanova's 2009 Final Four opponent, North Carolina, represents a loaded memory to most Wildcat fans, none of the current Villanova players were around for the 2005 team's Sweet 16 loss to the eventual national champion Tarheels.

The 2005 loss is a particularly brutal memory for Villanova fans, because the game turned on a very questionable -- "phantom," even -- traveling violation on star Villanova shooting guard Allan Ray, just as he put in a basket that would have brought the 'Cats to within one point.

Instead of calling an "and-one" foul, as many fans expected, the official whistled Ray for traveling, thus ending the season of the upstart 2005 Sweet 16 Villanova team.

Then, as now, Villanova was a heavy underdog to what looked to be an unstoppable Carolina team, loaded with future professionals at nearly every position.

That didn't faze the 'Cats so much in 2005; let's hope the 2009 team can play with a similar swagger on Saturday.

The 2009 version of Villanova-North Carolina is scheduled for an 8:57 p.m. (EDT) game time on Saturday.

Video highlights of the 2005 game embedded below.

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29 March 2009


posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/29/2009 03:25:00 AM

Villanova 78
Pittsburgh 76
(box score)

[See end of post for video highlights.]

Villanova defeated the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers tonight in Boston to earn a trip to the Final Four after one of the greatest, most epic, and most nerveracking games in Wildcat history.

It was fitting that a game featuring a ridiculous 10 ties, 15 lead changes, and 66 AP photos would come down to two last-second shots -- one rimming in, and one bouncing just high off the backboard after time expired.

Facing a tied score and a possible overtime with the Wildcats in severe foul trouble, Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds dribbled nearly the length of the floor to put in the winning floater with half a second left. The play will no doubt go down in Villanova and NCAA tournament history as one of the greatest winning baskets ever.

Reynolds's brilliant shot put the Wildcats ahead, 78-76, which was the final score after Levance Fields's desperation heave from 65+ feet bounced just errant off the backboard, way, way too close for comfort.

Although the entire game was an instant classic, the last few minutes were especially amazing. With a little over three minutes to go, Villanova trailed by four points, and Pittsburgh had the ball. Chances of a comeback seemed slim.

Dwayne Anderson, though, had different ideas, as he stole the ball and put in a crucial and-one layup -- and hit the foul shot. That play itself should be considered one of the most clutch sequences in Villanova history.

Then, up by two points with 13 seconds left in the game, Villanova called timeout before attempting to inbound the ball on its own baseline. Instead of simply inbounding the ball safely and shooting free throws to put the game out of reach (Villanova had made an astounding 22 of 23 fouls shots), Villanova and Reggie Redding executed one of the most boneheaded plays in NCAA tournament history.

Redding attempted to hit Dante Cunningham for the "home-run" play, throwing the ball almost 90 feet and nearly out of bounds. Not only did the play turn the ball over, it did not run much time off the clock.

I don't know if that was the play drawn up by Jay Wright in the timeout, but it seems likely it was, given Cunningham's home-run trajectory -- and Redding's eagerness to roll the dice. You cannot fault Jay Wright too much, however, as it was a good coaching job to even have the team in position at the end to potentially put the game away.

The inbounds play, in my mind, ranked right up there with Chris Webber calling timeout with none remaining in the 1993 championship game. Had Villanova lost this game, it would have been in the parthenon of all-time NCAA tournament errors. Thankfully, that did not happen.

Villanova proceeded to foul Levance Fields on the ensuing Pitt possession with just over five seconds remaining, which was nearly as bad a decision as Redding's inbounds throw.

After Fields calmly sank two free throws, the prospect of overtime looked grim for the 'Cats, who were beset by front-court foul trouble.

But then Scottie Reynolds made a play that will be included in NCAA tournament highlight reels for decades to come, and the rest is history.

Villanova advances to its first Final Four since the 1985 NCAA championship.

All in all, Villanova's last-second win over Pitt concluded one of the greatest basketball games in recent memory. I would argue that it topped this year's six-overtime thriller between Syracuse and Connecticut in the Big East tournament, simply because the game meant so much more and ended much more closely.

Personally, I have never rooted so hard for a sporting event in my life. It will be difficult to ever top this game for young Villanova fans -- but the Wildcats have the chance to do just that next weekend.

Right now, though, the win stands for me and many other young Villanova alumni as the greatest basketball game ever seen. The game, of course, triggered racous celebration on Villanova's campus (video).

Congratulations to reader "JohnnyB1" for most closely predicting the final score.

Villanova awaits the winner of Sunday's North Carolina-Oklahoma regional semifinal. I like the Oklahoma match-up much better for the Wildcats, so I'll be a Sooner fan tomorrow.

"READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis, followed by the embedded video highlights and links to other recaps.

  • Reggie Redding (S, 36 min)

    Redding's solid 36 minutes risked being overshadowed by his foolish inbounds with 13 seconds left. Luckily, Villanova won the game, so Redding's effort can be properly appreciated. Redding shot 2-6 from the field to score 5 points. He was the only Wildcat to miss a free throw, shooting 1-2 in the game's closing minute. He co-led the team in rebounds with 6. Redding added 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals, and a team-high 3 blocks. His overall defense was excellent. Redding is the heart and soul of a surging Final Four team. No top grade, because of the end-game sequence and small offensive impact, but Redding's tenacious defense earns him an above-average rating.
    Grade: B-

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 33 min)

    Reynolds hit the game-winning shot in one the great finishes of NCAA tournament history. As Jay Wright said after the game, they will be replaying that basket when Reynolds is 40 years old. Reynolds's clutch play is even more amazing when viewed through the lens of his mediocre shooting night. Scottie shot 4-11 overall, and 0-3 from the three, and the team still won. Reynolds definitely seems bothered by his sore right wrist. Hopefully the full week's rest between now and the national semifinal will allow the wrist issue to fade away. Reynolds was perfect tonight from the foul line, a cool 7-7. He did not handle the ball very well, committing 4 turnovers, but of course he handled it well when it counted. Even though he shot 4-11 with 4 turnovers, no steals, and 1 assist, how can I not give Reynolds an excellent grade after one of the biggest shots in NCAA tournament history?
    Grade: A-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 30 min)

    Cunningham picked up two fouls with over 8 minutes remaining in the first half. I emphatically diagree with the decision to sit him the rest of the half -- this was for a Final Four, after all, and you have to trust your senior not to commit an additional foul before halftime. As such, Villanova's arguably most important player was limited to just 30 minutes. Cunningham was not able to stop Blair, who scored 20 on 9-9 shooting, but he did manage to score 14 points of his own on decent 6-11 shooting. Cunningham pulled in a lower-than-usual 5 rebounds, and added 2 assists, 2 turnovers, and 1 steal. Whether Villanova next faces UNC and Tyler Hansborough or OU and Blake Griffin, Cunningham's next assignment will be the toughest and most important one of his career.
    Grade: B-

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 28 min)

    Despite how good Dante Cunningham has been the last three years, Dwayne Anderson is the senior I will miss the most next year. His play in the NCAA tournament run has been astounding. Tonight he was easily the player of the game, and he made play after play to keep Villanova competitive. As mentioned, what's lost in Reynold's game-winner was how crucial a play Anderson's steal and three-point play was. Anderson shot a good 5-10 tonight, inlcuding 2-6 from the three and a very nice 5-5 from the foul line. He grabbed a team-high 6 rebounds. He also led the team in steals, with 4 of the 6 Wildcat picks overall. It was an amazing performance, and Villanova will miss Anderson's hustle, athleticism, decision-making, and resourcefullness next season.
    Grade: A

  • Shane Clark (S, 26 min)

    I've got to hand it to Clark. He has been much-criticized in this space in his career, but he saved us tonight. Clark scored in the first half when no one else seemed able. He shot a good 4-7 overall, including an amazing 3-4 from the three. He notched 4 rebounds and committed just 1 turnover. Excellent hustle play from Clark, whose late-season emergence has been one of the bigger reasons for Villanova's improvement.
    Grade: B+

  • Corey Stokes (23 min)

    As predicted in the Duke recap, Stokes improved his shooting considerably against Pitt in the second game in the arena. Here is hoping that he will have the chance to play two games in Detroit's Ford Field stadium. Tonight, Stokes shot an excellent 3-4, including 1-2 from the three. He showed he could put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Stokes added 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, and 1 block. I still think Wright subs Stokes in and out too frequently for him to develop an optimal rhythm. Stokes, though, will need to be a reliable scorer in the next game if Villanova hopes to advance to the national championship.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Fisher 18 min)

    Fisher only received 18 minutes tonight, but they were 18 huge minutes, and he was on the floor when it counted at the end. Earlier in the game, Fisher initiated one of the most entertaining plays I have ever seen. He dove to the floor for a loose ball and tipped it behind his body to a trailing Reggie Redding, who proceeded to make a fantastic pass to Reynolds in the corner. Reynolds pump-faked, getting his defender airborne, before driving baseline to make a very nice reverse layup. Without Fisher's extraordinary hustle, Villanova would not have had those two points. Fisher shot poorly again tonight, just 1-7. But where he really shined was on the foul line, where he was a perfect 7-7, including a pair of ultra-clutch late-game trips. He added 4 big rebounds for a 6-foot guard, and handled the ball reasonably well, dishing for 2 assists while committing 2 turnovers.
    Grade: B+

  • Antonio Pena (6 min)

    Pena contributed 6 decent minutes, and while he did not have any impact on the box score, he absorbed two personal fouls that would have disqualified any of Villanova's other frontcourt players.
    Grade: C

  • Incomplete grades: None.

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

Video highlights:

Other recaps:

I am sure VBTN, VUhoops, and IBBW will have their recaps up soon, as well.

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28 March 2009

Villanova duels Pitt for Final Four trip

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/28/2009 01:01:00 PM
#11 Villanova (29-7) vs. #4 Pitt (31-4)
7:05 p.m., 28 March 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden.


Line: Pitt -2

Villanova clashes with a very familiar opponent today in Boston for a Final Four berth.

The top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers have won 31 games, and were ranked #4 in the country in the last AP poll. But Villanova beat Pitt last time, and that was before the Wildcats began to look like a top-5 team during their recent tournament run.

There's not much to write about this game that hasn't already been said. Villanova and Pittsburgh are both tough, defense-oriented teams with penchants for physical play.

Unlike its last three games against American, UCLA, and Duke, Villanova will probably be at a disadvantage on the interior tonight, facing Big East player of the year Dejuan Blair.

The Wildcats will have to make up for Pitt's edge down low by using their superior scoring guards and athletic running game. A key player tonight will be Dwayne Anderson, and his ability to score whether or not his three-point shot is falling.

Corey Fisher will need to get to the rim, even if Blair is patrolling the key. Scottie Reynolds will need to bear some of the Wildcat scoring load. Dante Cunningham will have probably the toughest task of all, containing Blair on one end and scoring on the other.

Pittsburgh is a tall order and a legitimate top-5 team nationwide, but the Wildcats are arguably the hottest team in the NCAA tournament. While the Panthers have largely struggled their way to the Elite 8, Villanova has absolutely demolished its last two opponents, with slaughters of ranked UCLA and Duke.

KenPom predicts a 2-point victory for the Panthers, giving Villanova a 40 percent chance for the win.

Oddsmakers installed Pitt as a 2.5 favorite on Friday, but the line has dropped to 2 points as of Saturday afternoon.

Check out the other Villanova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then try to predict the game's final score in the comment thread below.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of North Carolina and Oklahoma in Detroit's national semifinal next Saturday.

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27 March 2009

'Nova destroys Duke on way to Elite 8

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/27/2009 04:51:00 AM
Villanova 77
Duke 54
(box score)

#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.
    Grade: A-

  • 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.
    Grade: A

  • 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.
    Grade: B+

  • 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.
    Grade: A-

  • 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.
    Grade: B-

  • 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.
    Grade: B

  • 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.
    Grade: B-

  • 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.
    Grade: B+

  • Incomplete grades: Frank Tchuisi (1 min), Jason Colenda (1 min).

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

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