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13 January 2007

'Cuse kills the 'Cats

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
1/13/2007 03:22:00 PM

Villanova 64
Syracuse 75

(box score)

Syracuse: 14-4 (3-1 BE)
Villanova: 10-5 (11-5, 1-3 BE, 3-0 B5)

Next game: vs. Notre Dame, 01/17 @ The Pavilion.

After a statement win over Georgetown in Washington, Villanova looked to even its conference record with a win at Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. Victory, however, was not in the cards for the 'Cats, as the team suffered perhaps its worse loss of the season at the hands of the Orange.

Although the game started out beautifully with an alley-oop from Reynolds to Cunningham to make the score 2-0 Villanova, it was pretty much all downhill from there. The Wildcats couldn't make shots, couldn't play defense, and couldn't score in transition. Syracuse shot a blazing 54.5 percent from the field, while holding the Wildcats to an anemic 36.1 percent. I use the word "holding" lightly, as Villanova missed several wide open looks.

Villanova was able to force 20 turnovers while only giving the ball away 12 times, an excellent margin. The 'Cats could not capitalize, however, as they were outscored on the fast break 11-2. Despite the plus-8 turnover margin, 'Nova managed only a 17-16 edge in points off turnovers.

The real problem, however, was shooting. Villanova's freeform offensive philosophy produced precious few easy buckets. The "take 'em" approach that worked so well with three NBA guards last year seems to be languishing this season, as the 'Cats have precisely one player who can create off the dribble as the offense requires.

With three new, highly touted guards coming in next year, Jay Wright may indeed want to stick with his guard-centric, create-for-yourself style. It does seem that the offense will create a lot of headaches this year, however, as the only player who gains any advantage from the offensive sets is Reynolds.

Villanova may not have won this game with any kind of offense, though. The Wildcats missed shots at a fantastic rate yesterday; in the second half they managed to miss fully two-thirds of their shots, going 10-30.

The 11-point final margin of victory for Syracuse is fairly misleading, as the Orange were comfortably ahead the entire second half and were in complete control of the game.

Onto the player grades. As always, click "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Curtis Sumpter (S, 37 min)

    Sumpter once again led the team in scoring, putting in 24. He shot well from the field, 9-17, and from the three, 3-5. He grabbed 12 rebounds, leading the team, and had 3 steals. He only committed 1 turnover. These numbers are fantastic by any measure, but Villanova did lose the game. Sumpter is an excellent scorer, true, but sometimes the team needs him to take charge during dry spells and moments of panic. Curtis has rarely done that this season.
    Grade: B+

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 34 min)

    Cunningham's performance as the point man of the full-court press is a sight to behold. His long wingspan and natural athleticism give him a major edge in forcing turnovers. He co-led the team in steals with 3. Dante also grabbed 4 boards and scored 4 points on his typically efficient 2-3 shooting. This sounds like a broken record, but they need to involve Cunningham in the offense more.
    Grade: B

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 32 min)

    It was a frustrating game for Reynolds, especially following his two career-best performances against DePaul and Georgetown. Scottie started out the game well, finding Dante on a beautifully-timed alley-oop and swishing a threeball. Inconsistency crept into his play, though, especially in the second half. Reynolds finished with 4 turnovers, leading the team. He also could not seem to find his stroke. Reynolds shot 4-15 from the field, and a terrible 2-10 from the three. He is a better shooter than that, but the shots weren't going in on Saturday.
    Grade: C-

  • Will Sheridan (S, 22 min)

    Sheridan was a non-factor in the game despite starting and playing for 22 minutes. He was 1-3 from the field with 2 points, and only managed to get 2 rebounds. Sheridan is a competent role player, but would he be starting if he weren't a beloved senior? It may be time to look in other directions for the team's post minutes.
    Grade: D-

  • Mike Nardi (S, 38 min)

    Frustration was the word of the day for the senior leader Nardi. He scored 17 points, second on the team, but he did it on 5-17 shooting, including a dismal 2-10 from the three. Nardi is in a major slump, shooting 13-51 from the field in his last four games, 25 percent. He is also 7-34 from the three in that span, a 20.5 percent success rate. The team needs a second major scorer to complement Sumpter, and unless he is set up by his teammates, Nardi may not be able to play that role. Nardi is a tremendously better shooter when he is able to catch and fire open and in rhythm. What he cannot do is create his own shot. Yet that is what he has been trying to do lately, with the expected results. I am a big Mike Nardi fan and cannot wait to see him get it back on track.
    Grade: D+

  • Shane Clark (14 min)

    Clark was very quiet in his 14 minutes, scoring just 3 points on 1-4 shooting. He grabbed two rebounds and committed 2 turnovers. He may have suffered a minor injury during the game as he saw no action in the final minutes.
    Grade: D

  • Casiem Drummond (12 min)

    Drummomd played no role in the offense in his 12 minutes, but looked good on the defensive end. He had 2 rebounds, an assist, a turnover, and even a steal. Count me in amongst the growing set of Drummond fans. I also believe either Casiem or Clark should be this team's fifth starter, with an edge to Drummond, because I like the offensive spark Clark can provide off the bench.
    Grade: C-

  • Dwayne Anderson (5 min)

    In a game where Villanova could not score for its life, the highly touted "instant offense" provided by Anderson consisted of 0-1 shooting and no points. He literally had no statistics in his 5 minutes of play aside from 2 personal fouls. Why not take some shots, Dwayne?
    Grade: D-

  • Bilal Benn (6 min)

    Maybe if Benn got more minutes he could get into the flow of the game better. With only 6 minutes played from the point, is it any surprise Benn could not contribute offensively? Benn is a good defender and should be able to shoulder the load a bit from Nardi. If Nardi is going to be playing 38 minutes per game while only hitting 1 in 4 shots, it's going to be a very long rest of the season. Benn, for his part, didn't do much of anything during his limited playing time, but that's not to say he couldn't given a longer period of run.
    Grade: D

  • Reggie Redding (Did not play: coach's decision)

    Why didn't Reggie play? In a game where our guards couldn't make anything happen offensively, why not give Reggie some minutes? Is he that inept on offense? If so, that assessment differs greatly from the ability he showed in high school: namely, that he knew how to put the ball in the basket. The only real reason for not playing Redding that I can think of is that Villanova may be extremely close to signing Tyreke Evans. Though that would indeed be good news, it certainly doesn't seem fair to Redding if that is indeed the reason he stayed on the bench Saturday. I am not privy to private team matters or performances in practice, and it may be simply that Reggie is in the doghouse. But in a game where the offense is sputtering and the game is quickly getting out of reach, I would have thrown Redding in there to see what he could do.
    Grade: NA

  • Incomplete grades:

  • Did not play:
    Reggie Redding
    (CD), Ross Condon (CD), Frank Tchuisi (CD), Andrew Ott (RS), Antonio Pena (RS)

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