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26 February 2007

Villanova cruises vs. Rutgers

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
2/26/2007 03:22:00 AM

Villanova 74
Rutgers 51

Rutgers: 9-18 (10-18, 3-12 BE)
Villanova: 18-9 (19-9, 7-7 BE, 4-0 B5)

Next game: at Connecticut , 02/28 @Gampel Pavilion.

It was senior night at the Pavilion, but a freshman stole the show in Villanova's easy win over Big East bottom-dweller Rutgers on Saturday. Villanova rookie Scottie Reynolds put on an absolute clinic in the first half, scoring a point per minute and pouring in five threes. Reynolds looked like he was playing at a different speed than everyone else, although that is now becoming a familiar sight. It was all but over by half-time, when the 'Cats took a 45-18 lead into the locker room. The Scarlet Knights were horrendous at the start of the game. It took Rutgers 8 minutes just to get its first field goal.

Rutgers played much better in the second half, actually outscoring the 'Cats by 4. The game's outcome, however, was never in question, and Villanova cruised to the win.

The win over Rutgers does not really improve the Wildcats' NCAA Tournament resume. A loss, however, would have been disastrous. Villanova still needs at least one more win in its final two games at UConn and vs. Syracuse to be on the safe side of the bubble, depending on what happens in the Big East Tournament. Winning out those two games would move the 'Cats to the absolute lock category. If the Wildcats lose the next two (not as unlikely as it seems), they will either have to make a run in New York City, or place their fates in the hands of the committee, or both. If the season ended today, however, Villanova would be solidly in, and it would take a tremendous collapse at this point for the 'Cats to go 0-3 and play themselves out of the NCAAs.

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

  • Mike Nardi (S, 36 min)

    It seems like it's been forever since Nardi made his Pavilion debut at "Hoops Mania" three-and-a-half years ago, and yet it feels like it's too soon to say that he has played his last minutes on Villanova's campus. Barring an unlikely collapse to the NIT, however, Nardi and the three other Villanova seniors indeed have played their last games at the Pavilion.

    Nardi went out on a high note. Rebounding from his sub-par performance in Milwaukee, Mike played well and seemed to have fun out there, too. He dished out a team-high 7 assists, scored 11 points on 3-7 shooting, and was a perfect 4-4 from the foul line. Nardi even managed to drain a three, the last of his many Pavilion longballs.

    It's interesting, also, to note that Jay Wright moved Nardi back on the ball Saturday. Was the decision to give the point back to Nardi based on the competition, or the fact that it was senior night? Or was it a legitimate strategy shift that will carry forward for the rest of the season? I'm not sure either way. Nardi handled the ball well, turning it over only once. And Reynolds sure was spectacular playing off the ball. But will Jay stick with Nardi handling the ball against more athletic defenses? My guess is no, but it is an option.
    Grade: B

  • Scottie Reynolds (34 min)

    Jay Wright moved Reynolds off the ball Saturday, and the dividends were measured in swishes. Reynolds scored 25 points, including 20 in the first half before Jay called off the dogs. He was simply unstoppable. You read it here first: Scottie's performance Saturday just locked up his Big East Freshman of the Year award. Reynolds shot well from the field, 8-14, and perfect from the foul line at 3-3. Reynolds is now 36 for his last 39 free throws. I know who I want at the stripe with the season on the line this March. Scottie added 3 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals. He committed 2 turnovers, and had a block. Reynolds is going to be the 'Cats' primary weapon in any NCAA Tournament run that is in the cards.
    Grade: A

  • Curtis Sumpter (S, 28 min)

    Sumpter also said goodbye to the Pavilion, his basketball home for the past five years. He put in a balanced performance Saturday. Sumpter scored 13 points on 5-11 shooting. He was 1-3 from the three and 2-2 from the free throw line. He led the team in rebounds, with 8, and blocks with 2. He had 1 steal and committed 2 turnovers. Sumpter is a much better player when he does not have to be the primary offensive focus, and the team's results this year reflect that. It was a very good game for Curtis's last in the "ski lodge."
    Grade: B

  • Will Sheridan (S, 24 min)

    Bump went out with a bang Saturday, putting in an efficient, mistake-free effort. Sheridan was 2-3 from the field for 4 points. He grabbed 3 rebounds in 24 minutes, and did not commit any turnovers. He also added 1 steal. Not eye-popping numbers by any means, but much better than some recent performances. His defense in the interior was fairly strong, but he did not have any blocks.
    Grade: B-

  • Dante Cunningham (24 min)

    Dante looked solid out there Saturday. He scored 12 points on 3-10 shooting, which is half his season field goal percentage. He was, however, a fantastic 6-6 from the foul line. Cunningham added 5 rebounds off the bench, and co-led the team in steals with 2. He did commit 2 turnovers, but his aggressive defense made up for it.
    Grade: B-

  • Shane Clark (S, 20 min)

    Clark continues to start, and no one really knows why. He did play fairly well Saturday, however. Shane notched 7 points on 2-6 shooting, including 1 three pointer. He was 2-4 from the foul line. Clark pulled in 6 boards, and added an assists and a steal to go with his 2 turnovers.
    Grade: C+

  • Reggie Redding (11 min)

    Redding did not do much offensively in his 11 minutes on the floor, but he did play solid defense. Reggie had 2 rebounds and a block. I'd really like to see him get his shot going before the post-season, so he can become another weapon on the perimeter.
    Grade: C

  • Bilal Benn (8 min)

    Benn had an assist, a turnover, and a steal in his 8 minutes. He played solid defense.
    Grade: C+

  • Ross Condon (S, 6 min)

    Condon started Saturday as part of the senior night festivities. A walk-on, Condon has been a valuable member of the team for four years, especially on the practice floor, where he helped hone the talents of NBA guards Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Allan Ray. He was a bit unlucky during the actual game tonight, going 0-4 from the field after finally getting the green light to take some shots. Ross faced the real possibility of being shut out on his senior night until Rutgers coach and former Villanova assistant Fred Hill instructed his team to foul Condon with 24 seconds left. It was a classy move on Hill's part to get Condon to the line, and Ross sank both free throws to get on the board in his last game at the Pavilion. The second made free throw also allowed Coach Wright to sub out Condon on the dead ball to a boisterous standing ovation. Condon was active all over the floor in his 6 minutes. He grabbed two rebounds and co-led the team with 2 steals.
    Grade: B

  • Incomplete grades:
    Casiem Drummond
    (4 min), Dwayne Anderson (3 min), Frank Tchuisi (2 min).

  • Did not play:
    Andrew Ott
    (RS), Antonio Pena (RS).

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At 6:30 PM, February 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance that you could put of the video of possibly the greatest moment in Villanova Basketball this season? That would be Ross's amazing first (of three) steals follower by Cassiem completely steamrolling one of the Rutgers players. It was amazing to see in person, now i just want replay the video over and over again. Thanks!

At 10:27 PM, February 25, 2007, Blogger pete said...

I don't have the game on DVR (or a DVR at all) but if any of you readers have the video, send it to me and I'll post it on the site.



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