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04 January 2007

West Virginia game grades

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
1/04/2007 02:04:00 AM

        Villanova 56
#25 West Virginia 67

(box score)

West Virginia: 11-1 (12-1, 2-0 BE)
Villanova: 9-3 (10-3, 0-1 BE, 3-0 B5)

Next game: vs. DePaul, 01/06 @ The Pavilion.

Villanova began its conference play with this tough loss at West Virginia. The #25 Mountaineers were clearly the better team tonight, as they hit open shots at will, and confused the Wildcats with John Beilein's much-feared 1-3-1 zone.

It isn't often I'll say this, but Jay Wright looked out-coached in the first half. Villanova looked completely unprepared on defense and baffled on offense against the stifling Mountaineer D. West Virginia even shut down VU's in-bounds plays, and picked off one of the "long bombs of last resort" so familiar to Wildcats fans these past few years.

Villanova quickly fell behind, and despite a mini-comeback in the first half, the Wildcats trailed by 22 at halftime.

Jay made a fairly good adjustment in the second half, adding a full-court press on defense, and focusing inside more on offense. This allowed Villanova to cut the lead to 4 at the 5:19 mark before West Virginia eventually pulled away.

Still, when the chips were down, the Wildcats could not guard West Virginia's shooters. The 'Cats allowed Frank Young to hit a gratuitous 8 three-pointers, of which several were wide-open looks.

Also, when the lead was cut to 4, Villanova abandoned the methods that got it there. Gone was the full-court press, and instead of pounding the ball inside on offense, which had been working, the Wildcats jacked some ill-advised threes.

Villanova had 16 turnovers tonight, including far too many in the clutch minutes. All in all, it was not the Wildcats' night. They will need to play more disciplined if they hope to pull even in conference play on Saturday against DePaul.

I think the team is better than what we saw tonight. If not for the atrocious first half, we may well have won this game. Jay Wright, as usual, said it best tonight in his post-game comments:

I don't think we are a bad team. I think we're a really good team that looked bad tonight. The first half told the story. They executed really well. We were just living on the edge there.

Sage words, Jay.

Onto the player grades. Click "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Curtis Sumpter (S, 35 min)

    It was a tale of two halves for Curtis, who was off in the first 20 minutes but spectacular in the second period. After going 2-7 from the field and committing 3 turnovers in the first half, Curtis came out of the locker room ready to go on a tear. He shot 7-11 in the second half, and had no turnovers. He seemed to score at will in the post against the undersized Mountaineers. Sumpter finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and 3 steals. It was an above-average night that was spoiled by a sloppy first half.
    Grade: B-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 28 min)

    Cunningham is probably the team's most consistent player. He plays very efficiently and makes few mistakes. This, however, is starting to become more and more an indication that he needs to step up and play a larger role. As our best pure post player, most athletic defender and floor-runner, and leader in FG percentage, I want more of the offense run through Dante. I don't know if this is a Jay Wright issue or a Dante issue, or both, but Dante needs to step up: he is one of the team's best players. Dante scored 7 tonight on 1-1 shooting, and led the team in rebounds with 8. He also added 2 steals and had no turnovers. Very efficient play, now get him the ball more.
    Grade: B-

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 27 min)

    The cliche would be to say that Scottie looked every bit like a freshman tonight. Reynolds seemed a little dazzled in his Big East debut, making several poor decisions with the ball and totaling 4 turnovers in the first half. His play improved dramatically in the second half, where he committed only 1 turnover. Scottie hit the boards well, pulling in 5 rebounds, and had 2 steals to go with his 7 points. He only dished out 1 assist, however. Reynolds can certainly do better.
    Grade: C-

  • Will Sheridan (S, 30 min)

    It was a rough night for Will. He was a total liability on offense, unable to score or even advance the ball usefully. He led the team in turnovers, with an unconscionable 6, including several that killed our comeback in crunch time. How he managed 6 turnovers without any ball-handling responsibility is beyond me. Sheridan took bad shots, finishing 1-5 from the field and scoring 2 points. His 7 rebounds were not enough to make up for the fact that Villanova played 4-on-5 on offense whenever he was out there. The team simply played much better with different lineups, and the fact that Sheridan had to go 30 minutes on such an off night is a mistake by Jay Wright. There is no way Sheridan should have seen that much playing time. It may be time to take the red shirt off Antonio Pena, depending on the status of his knee. We need another offensive presence down low, and at this point Bump is not the answer. Sheridan should rotate in for defense, but I do not think he should start as we move into conference play.
    Grade: F

  • Mike Nardi (S, 29 min)

    I did a double-take when I looked at the box score and saw that Nardi had no turnovers tonight. That may be true, but it doesn't mean he didn't make any mistakes handing the ball. Time and time again he dribbled the ball directly into WVU's double team, instead of making an easy pass. Nardi was also very off in shooting tonight, going 3-14, including an atrocious 1-9 from the three. A few of those were desperation heaves in the game's final moments, but he did not shoot well overall. Mike managed to score just 12 points on his 14 shots, and spent a good chunk of the second half on the bench with foul trouble. We will need better scoring from him. One bright spot: he led the team in assists with 4. Grade: C-

  • Shane Clark (29 min)

    Shane played 29 minutes tonight, but did not really contribute very much. After stroking a three-pointer to give Villanova its first points of the game, he missed his next 6 shots, finishing 1-7 from the field. He was OK on the glass, with 5 rebounds, and did add 1 assist and steal each to go with his 1 turnover. It was just a mediocre night for Clark, though, as he did nothing of note in the second half.
    Grade: C-

  • Dwayne Anderson (12 min)

    Aside from a really nice drive-and-dunk that the announcers cited as the textbook way to exploit the WVU zone, Anderson was largely ineffective.
    Grade: C-

  • Bilal Benn (7 min)

    Benn looked solid in his 7 minutes. He should have played more. He had an assist, 2 rebounds, and no turnovers in his limited action, and scored 2 points on 1-1 shooting. More important, however, he did not make many mistakes and played good defense. Look for Benn to get some increased playing time against DePaul on Saturday.

  • Incomplete grades: Reggie Redding(3 min).

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

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