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20 November 2006

Xavier 71
Villanova 66

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
11/20/2006 03:10:00 AM

Villanova: 1-1 (0-0)
Next game: Iowa, 11/20/06

In an extremely close game with eight ties and 13 lead changes, Villanova came up short against the Xavier Musketeers Sunday night in the Paradise Jam semifinals at the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The game went down to the final few possessions. Trailing by 2 with 12 seconds left, Curtis Sumpter launched a three from the corner, right in front of the Villanova bench. Though there appeared to be contact as the ball left Sumpter's hands, no foul was called. Xavier's Brandon Cole made one free throw to put his team up by 3, and Mike Nardi's 3-pt-attempt for the tie was off the mark.

Xavier guard Stan Burrell led all scorers with 26. Curtis Sumpter and Shane Clark each scored 17 for the Wildcats.

Our Take:

Click read more (below) for why we lost, silver linings, and player grades.

Why we lost:

  • Lack of clutch experience

    Villanova fans were downright spoiled last year in close games. Every time a game went down to the last possession, the Wildcats had three poised, confident, experienced NBA-level players to make clutch plays. It became almost routine to see a game go down to the wire and then won by an Allan Ray jumper, a Kyle Lowry drive, or a Randy Foye anything. Unfortunately for the 'Cats, Ray, Lowry, and Foye are now busy making clutch plays for their respective NBA teams.

    We need a clutch leader to emerge for these end-of-game situations. The natural choice would be senior Curtis Sumpter, but he needs to find his outside shot. Mike Nardi or Scottie Reynolds could also play this role. Someone needs to step up.

  • Lack of scoring

    With the departure of our top three scorers from last year, Villanova needs to find people to put the ball in the basket. Sumpter's return was a huge help, of course. But aside from Curtis and a surprising Shane Clark, the only other Wildcat in double figures was Mike Nardi, with 10 points. We need our Dante Cunningham and Will Sheridan to find their roles in this offense, and dominate the paint. Scottie Reynolds needs to create more shots for himself. And perhaps Dwayne Anderson can provide a scoring boost off the bench.

  • Weak transition game

    Villanova managed just 14 points off turnovers and 6 fast break points, compared to 22 and 13 for Xavier, respectively. It's hard to get transition points when only notching two steals on the night, so the defense needs to work harder to pressure the ball and the ballhandler.

Silver linings:

  • Rebounding

    Villanova won the battle of the boards, 25-21.

  • Shooting percentage

    The 'Cats shot 26/54 for a 48.1 FG percentage, which is quite decent.

  • Jay's passion

    Jay looked fired up this game, especially in the second half. It's a good sign that Jay and the team are this passionate this early in the season.

Player grades:

  • Curtis Sumpter (36 min)

    Curtis looked good down low, exploding for some very nice lay-ups and a monster jam. The outside shot was a little off, though, as Curtis went 8/18 from the field and 1/5 from the three. Led the team in points (17) and turnovers (5). Grade: B-

  • Mike Nardi (33 min)

    Mike was a good presence out there, providing senior leadership and making smart decisions. Had some trouble from the field, shooting 3/10, but did drain 2 three-pointers in 5 attempts, and led the 'Cats in assists (5) and steals (2). Grade: B

  • Will Sheridan (27 min)

    Bump looked a little lost on offense. Twice he took shots that seemed to be by far out of his range, including a contested 3-pointer. Still, Sheridan was good defensively, blocking two shots. We will need more than 2 rebounds from him, however. Grade: C-

  • Dante Cunningham (36 min)

    Dante was a big presence down low, and on the break the few times we were able to run. I wish we would run more plays for Dante in the post, instead of feeding it to him on the wing. Cunningham had a pretty balanced night, scoring 8, blocking 2 shots, and leading the team in rebounds with 8. Grade: B

  • Scottie Reynolds (26 min)

    Why didn't Jay get Scottie in during the second half? In such a close, see-saw game, it makes sense to have one of our two most-talented players out on the floor. Reynolds looked good handling point duties aside from some costly turnovers. Scottie finally missed a shot this season, going 3/6, including 2 three-ponters, for 8 points. He also added 4 assists. Reynolds might be our best three-point shooter. Grade: B-

  • Shane Clark(29 min)

    A breakout game for Shane? Clark co-led the team in scoring with 17, and was very efficient in the process, shooting 6/9, including 4/7 from the three. Clark seems to have developed into a potent perimeter player despite his unorthodox jump-shot. Would like to see fewer turnovers (3), however, and more rebounds (2) and assists (0). Grade: B+

  • Incomplete grades:
    Bilal Benn
    (1 min), Reggie Redding (5 min), Dwayne Anderson (4 min).

  • Did not play:
    Frank Tchuisi
    (CD), Casiem Drummond (CD), Ross Condon (CD),Andrew Ott (RS), Antonio Pena (RS).

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