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31 March 2007

WVU wins NIT, bad t-shirts

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/31/2007 02:02:00 PM

Congratulations to the West Virginia Mountaineers, fellow members of the Big East, for winning the National Invitation Tournament in New York City on Thursday.

The Mountaineers beat Clemson of the ACC 78-73 in the NIT final at Madison Square Garden.

Though it's been argued that winning the NIT is like kissing your sister -- please, no Pittsnogle jokes -- the Mountaineers had to suffer a different kind of ignominy Thursday night when they donned the celebratory championship t-shirts, which were humorously misspelled.

The shirts, which were printed by the NIT, drop one of the more crucial letters in "West Virginia": the trailing "i."

Since this is a family blog, I won't go into the various debates on the correct pronunciation of "Virgina"; suffice it to say that in any case, even the winner of the Not Invited Tournament deserves better than that.

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26 March 2007

Reporter: Wright rumors untrue

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/26/2007 11:02:00 AM
Brett Dawson, a reporter for Louisville's Courier-Journal, posted on his blog yesterday a piece refuting reports that Kentucky has already asked the Villanova athletic department for permission to interview Jay Wright.

Dawson called Philadelphia's Comcast Sports to ask about the rumor. According to Dawson, Comcast denied it ever reported that Kentucky had made formal contact with Villanova.

It now seems that yesterday's Kentucky Sports Radio blog article about Wright and the Kentucky job is incorrect, because it attributes part of the story to Comcast Philadelphia.

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25 March 2007

Blog: Jay Wright to interview at UK

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/25/2007 04:12:00 PM

[Update: Reporter Brett Dawson now writes that KSR's entire report is untrue.]

According to an article on the sports blog and podcast Kentucky Sports Radio, Villanova coach Jay Wright will interview for the University of Kentucky head coaching position within the next few days.

As reported by KSR, Kentucky has asked for and received permission to talk with Wright from the Villanova athletic department. [Update: whether or not this is actually true is the subject of considerable debate right now]

Says KSR:

We have confirmation today that Jay Wright, the handsome dapper coach for the University of Villanova [sic] either was interviewed yesterday by Mitch Barnhart or will be interviewed in the next two days.

Jay Wright is on the short list of candidates for the Kentucky job, although it appears Florida's Billy Donovan remains the first choice.

Donovan is sitting pretty at Florida, though, and would probably turn down any job offer. If that were the case, it would seem that Jay Wright would be one of the favorites to be offered the UK job, along with Tom Crean, John Calipari, and Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie.

Although Wright has repeatedly said he is happy at Villanova, calling it his "dream job," 'Nova fans cannot be happy with this latest news.

Considering the head job at Kentucky is one of most prestigious posts in all of sports, even someone in his "dream job" would have to take a long hard look at Lexington if offered the position.

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22 March 2007

It's official: Reynolds returns

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/22/2007 06:31:00 PM

Villanova University issued a press release today confirming that star freshman guard Scottie Reynolds will indeed return for his sophomore year.

Though this announcement was widely expected this week, the official word from the university should finally put to rest the last of speculation and worry on the Main Line.

Coach Jay Wright praised Reynolds in his official statement:

Scottie is a very mature and intelligent young man. He has high aspirations for his career as a basketball player as well as a deep regard for his academic career. He considered both of these factors and came to a decision that we're all proud of.

Reynolds will join a talented incoming class of three true freshmen and two red-shirt rookies next season as the Wildcats look to make another run at the NCAA Tournament.

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CBS: Wright's name will come up at UK

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/22/2007 06:01:00 PM
CBS Sportline reporter Gary Parrish wrote today that Jay Wright will be among the names considered for the now-vacant head coaching spot at the University of Kentucky.

According to Parrish:

Names that will surface as possible replacements are Florida's Billy Donovan, Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie, Memphis' John Calipari, Marquette's Tom Crean, Villanova's Jay Wright, Ohio State's Thad Matta, Gonzaga's Mark Few, Texas' Rick Barnes and countless others. Also, don't be surprised if the interest of Louisville's Rick Pitino is gauged.

At this point, I think Jay Wright is a real long-shot for this job. Wright is sitting pretty right now at Villanova, with some great recruits coming in. Wright has also said repeatedly that Villanova is his "dream job," and I don't think he is crazy enough to leave a place where he is beloved to enter into the maelstrom that is the head coaching job at UK.

Remember, Tubby Smith won a national championship and went to four Elite Eights and seven Sweet Sixteens in his 10 seasons in Lexington. He also was 10-for-10 in first round NCAA Tournament games. If Smith, an excellent coach, was run out of town with that resume, why would Wright want to put himself in that position of unrealistic expectations?

If I were a betting man, I'd bet on Marquette's Tom Crean being tapped for this job.

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Wright expects transfers

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/22/2007 01:52:00 AM
According to a candid article in the alternative campus newspaper the Villanova Times, Jay Wright thinks one or more of his current players could transfer before next season.

For those confused by the date attached to the article, the Villanova Times Web site seems to think that the date is currently February 21, 2007. Rest assured, this is a new article. One can only hope that the Villanova Times is more meticulous in its quote collection than its article dating.

In any event, while transfer rumors have been floating around all year, the quotes from Wright in this new article are by far his strongest revelation to date that some scholarships may soon be freed.

Said Wright:

I have a feeling somebody could [transfer]. We just have [too many people] in that freshman and sophomore class. And they're all good kids, and that's what I want them to know. I'd love to have all of them, but if all of them stay and you're that bunched up in your freshman, sophomore, junior class, certain guys aren't going to play.

They practice their butts off every day so I'm psyched about that, but one of them has got to [consider transferring]. Maybe even two, because they see what these kids [incoming recruits] are doing.

These blatantly honest statements from Wright could well be a signal to Tyreke Evans, the much-hyped 2008-09 superstar recruit, that a scholarship will soon open for him.

According to various sources close to Evans, Villanova leads in the Tyreke lottery. Evans is also said to be considering North Carolina, Louisville, Texas, and Connecticut.

Landing a recruit as good as Evans would totally change the constitution of Villanova's basketball program; in short, it would be the game-changing commitment that would cement the Wildcats as a first-tier destination for years to come.

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21 March 2007

PDN: Reynolds will stay

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/21/2007 08:55:00 PM

Scottie Reynolds, Villanova's star freshman point guard, will return to the Main Line for his sophomore season, according to an article today in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Reynolds averaged 14.8 points and 4.0 assists per game in a stellar freshman campaign that earned him Big East Rookie of the Year honors.

Reynolds also gained national attention after being named national player of the week two times this season by ESPN analyst Andy Katz.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Scottie had not yet considered making the jump to the pros, but that was before today's meeting with Jay Wright.

According to the PDN article:

The freshman and his coach, Jay Wright, met today but the meeting only reaffirmed Reynolds' gut feeling, namely that he should return for his sophomore season.

The article also says that Villanova will formally announce Reynolds's decision to stay tomorrow.

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Jay Wright talks Tourney in radio spot

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/21/2007 01:22:00 AM

On Tuesday, Villanova coach Jay Wright gave his first radio interview since losing in the NCAA Tournament's first round against Kentucky this weekend. Wright appeared as a guest of the the 700 Level Sports Fanatics program on Philadelphia SportsTalk 950 AM.

The entire 16-minute interview is available for download as an MP3.

Wright discussed his experience in the NCAA Tournament on the show, including why he feels Kentucky defeated Villanova on Friday. Wright also gave his Final Four picks (Kansas, Florida, OSU, and Georgetown), and admitted that he can't really relax and move on until after the entire tournament ends.

Wright revealed that his ideal end-of-game strategy when leading by three and defending with fewer than 10 seconds left is to foul, but he admitted that he doesn't always have the "guts" to follow through with that tactic in a real game situation. Ohio State's win in overtime in the second round of the tournament over Xavier after trailing by three with the ball at the end of regulation added fresh fuel to the fire of that ever-controverisal issue earlier this week.

Coach Wright also responded to the rumors regarding the freshman star Scottie Reynolds and his NBA prospects this spring. As previously reported, Wright said that he had not talked to Reynolds at all about his pro prospects, but that he will meet with Scottie individually later this week.

When asked about who will be the team's leaders next year, Wright said that rising juniors Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham, along with Reynolds, will provide leadership to the very young team in 2007-08. Villanova adds five new players next season, three true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen, and will have no seniors on an inexperienced albeit talented roster.

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20 March 2007

Reynolds: Right now, I'm coming back

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/20/2007 09:54:00 PM

Villanova fans received some excellent news this morning in the form of a Sporting News article about star freshman guard Scottie Reynolds.

In the article, Reynolds is quoted saying he has not even considered making the early jump to the NBA yet. Scottie also says he never talked about the NBA with his family or with Villanova coach Jay Wright.

Says Scottie:

Right now, I'm coming back. I'm not even thinking about it. Of course there are the questions, but right now I'm not thinking about it. I'm ready to take on a new challenge for next year.

While Reynolds could choose to go pro at any time, this statement really lowers the odds that Scottie will forgo his remaining college eligibility this spring.

The article also reveals that Villanova senior Curtis Sumpter will undergo medical testing to determine how reliable his knees are before the NBA Draft, and that senior Mike Nardi has applied for dual citizenship in Italy to play professionally there next year.

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17 March 2007

Kentucky ends 'Nova's season

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/17/2007 12:14:00 AM

Villanova 58
Kentucky 67

Villanova: 21-11 (22-11, 9-7 BE, 4-0 B5)
Kentucky: 21-11 (22-11, 9-7 SEC)

Villanova's season came to an end tonight with a loss to the #8 seed Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Chicago.

In a game where Villanova could not seem to find any other option on offense, Villanova freshman Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points.

The main problem for Villanova tonight was shooting: the team shot a dismal 18-55, clocking in at 32.7 percent for the game. Second half shooting was even worse, 8-28 and 28.6 percent.

The one silver lining of this loss for Villanova is that Kentucky's win should save coach Tubby Smith's job, thus snuffing out any Jay-Wright-to-Lexington rumors that were sure to crop up this spring if Villanova had advanced.

On to the player grades. I will not be grading the four seniors tonight, as I wish to simply thank them for their service to the program.

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


  • Curtis Sumpter (S, 38 min)

  • Will Sheridan (S, 30 min)

  • Mike Nardi (25 min)

  • Ross Condon (DNP--CD)

  • Thank you, seniors.

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 33 min)

    Aside from Sumpter, Reynolds was the only scoring option for Villanova. Kentucky coach Tubby Smith had five days to prepare for Villanova's Scottie-reliant offense, and Smith did a good job of denying Reynolds any open space in which to maneuver. Even as the focus of Kentucky's unrelenting defensive efforts, Reynolds managed to lead all scorers with 23. He shot 6-18 from the field, including 3-8 from three-point range. His 8-12 performance from the line included 4 uncharacteristic misses. It may be unrealistic, but when Reynolds is at the line, you expect them all to go in. Scottie had 3 turnovers, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. All in all, it was a valiant effort, but Reynolds simply did not have enough help this year on offense to take the team deep into the tournament. If Reynolds decides to return to Villanova next year, you can be sure the addition of the five freshmen will give Reynolds a lot more options on the offensive end of the court.
    Grade: A-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 28 min)

    Cunningham was not much of a factor tonight, which is a shame because Villanova sorely needed an interior scoring presence. Dante shot 1-5 from the field and never went up strong to the rim. He scored 4 points and was 2-2 from the line. Cunningham grabbed 3 rebounds, committed 2 turnovers, and had 2 steals.
    Grade: C-

  • Reggie Redding (S, 20 min)

    Redding's ballhandling, passing, and defense were all solid tonight, but he was anemic on the offensive end. Redding shot 0-2 from the field, scoring no points, and passed up several open looks. He needs to build some shooting confidence this off-season if he hopes to see any time amongst Villanova's suddenly crowded backcourt. Redding led the team in assists tonight with 3, and added 2 rebounds. He did not turn the ball over. It was an excellent night for Reynolds in all aspects of the game except scoring.
    Grade: C+

  • Shane Clark (22 min)

    Clark remained hobbled by injury and was fairly ineffective on both ends of the floor. He scored 2 points on 1-3 shooting. Clark collected 4 rebounds, and had 1 each of assists, turnovers, and steals.

  • Incomplete grades:
    Caseim Drummond
    (4 min).

  • Did not play:
    Bilal Benn
    (CD), Dwayne Anderson (CD), Frank Tchuisi (CD), Andrew Ott (RS), Antonio Pena (RS).

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16 March 2007

Nardi said good to go for tonight

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/16/2007 02:41:00 PM

According to Shannon Ryan of the Phildelphia Inquirer, Villanova coach Jay Wright said his starting guard Mike Nardi is almost completely healthy and will be a major factor in tonight's first-round NCAA game against #8 Kentucky.

Wright was confident that Nardi's 2-week-long struggle with a left-ankle sprain and a calf-muscle strain will no longer trouble the senior guard:

I think he is close to 100 percent. He practiced and looked very good. We look at it like we got our guy back.

Wright also said that Nardi's return allows freshman guard Reggie Redding to add crucial depth in the backcourt for the grueling tournament run.

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TV coverage for tonight

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/16/2007 02:23:00 PM
Villanova's 9:30 p.m. game against Kentucky will be the primary game for 49 percent of the nation tonight, according to CBS. Check the broadcast map (below) to see whether your CBS affiliate will be going with the game.

Shaded in striped green, Eastern PA, Delaware, South Jersey, and Kentucky all get "constant" coverage, meaning the game will be shown the entire time no matter how close it is.

Most in the Northeast and Midwest will receive the 'Nova-Kentucky match-up as their primary game, but will be subject to cut-ins to other regional sites as in-game situations warrant.

Of course, viewers with DirecTV's NCAA basketball package will be able to choose which game of the four to watch. For cable and over-the-air viewers outside CBS's constant-coverage zones, a trek to a friend's house or a sports bar may be the best bet to ensure an uninterrupted Wildcats vs. Wildcats feed.

As a last resort, the Villanova game will be available for free as an online stream from CBS. If there are any problems with local "blackouts" on that site, try changing your zip code in the URL.

Click on the map below for a larger version.

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14 March 2007

Best and worst cases for 'Nova

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/14/2007 05:07:00 PM
ESPN's Pat Forde is by far my favorite college hoops scribe, so it's only appropriate today to highlight what he has to say about Villanova in his 64-team wildest dreams and worst nightmare guide.

According to Forde, here is the best-case scenario for Nova:

Curtis Sumpter and Scottie Reynolds carry the Wildcats to an unlikely second consecutive regional final, upsetting Kentucky, Kansas and Southern Illinois along the way. Jay Wright outdresses every coach in his path, smiles graciously at all times, and between games helps old ladies across the street outside the arena. Back home in Philly, Phil Martelli remains bald.

Hey, I'd take an Elite Eight. It's also good to see Jay Wright finally getting some attention for his meticulously selected wardrobe.

The worst nightmare:

Wright loses a button on his pinstripe sport coat, gets several hairs out of place and earns a technical as his Wildcats shoot 29 percent and melt down against Kentucky. Reynolds scores 30 in a losing effort and proceeds directly to the pros.

Joking aside, poor shooting is always a legitimate concern for this streaky Villanova team. Reynolds turning pro after a fantastic NCAA showing is another real threat. Let me be the first to say it: Stay, Scottie, stay. Great things are coming next year.

Those two issues are where the concerns end, though. There is no way on Earth that Jay Wright loses a button or messes up his hair.

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Jay Wright on Jody Mac

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/14/2007 02:32:00 PM

Villanova coach Jay Wright appeared on the Jody Mac show last night on the WPEN radio network. Wright and Mac discussed Villanova basketball and the NCAA Tournament in the 13-minute interview.

The full interview is available as an MP3 to listen or to download.

Coach Wright shared his thoughts on the injury status of Mike Nardi, the game-plan against Kentucky, and his general approach to the NCAA Tournament.

Wright said he remains hopeful on Nardi's status and was confident he would be "good to go" on Friday. He also repeated his much-invoked mantra of treating the NCAA Tournament as a series of two-game mini-tournaments, to be approached one at a time.

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Nardi suffers injury setback

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/14/2007 12:29:00 AM

Villanova guard Mike Nardi was forced to leave practice on Tuesday after re-injuring his sprained left ankle, according to the Associated Press.

Villanova coach Jay Wright said Nardi tweaked his hurt ankle in practice Monday. Though Nardi said he felt better at the start of Tuesday's practice, he was quickly forced to take the sideline.

It is unclear if Nardi will participate in practice on Wednesday. The senior from Linden, N.J, is also suffering from a strained left calf muscle.

"It's not drastic," said Wright, "but it's not where we want it to be."

Nardi is still expected to be available to play in Villanova's first round NCAA game against Kentucky in Chicago on Friday night, but it is doubtful he will be at his peak effectiveness.

Villanova is not the only Big East team struggling with injuries before the start of the tournament. Marquette's Jerel McNeal is definitely out for the first weekend of the tournament with an injured thumb on his shooting hand. The speedy sophomore guard is arguably the Golden Eagles' best player.

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Niagara joins the pod

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/14/2007 12:28:00 AM

Niagara University, champions of the MAAC, defeated Florida A&M tonight in Dayton, Ohio, to earn the #16 seed in the NCAA Tournament's West Region.

Niagara senior Clif Brown led all scorers with 32 as his Golden Eagles prevailed fairly easily, 77-69.

The absurdity of forcing two conference champions to play each other for one "automatic" bid aside, Niagara had no business being in the play-in "Opening Round" game.

So how did they get there? The NCAA Selection Committee -- I swear I am not making this up -- took steps this year to ensure that two "historically black" college would not meet in the opening game.

Niagara, apparently, was the first non-"historically black" college working backwards on the committee's "s-curve," so the Purple Eagles found themselves downgraded to the "Opening Round." In other news, I have run out of sarcastic quotation marks.

Racial sensitivity is something to be applauded, for sure, but it really should play no role in the seeding of NCAA Tournament teams. Every team should be judged on its own merits, and Niagara got the shaft.

In reality, Niagara is more like a 13 or 14 seed in terms of strength. This makes the Friday night game against #1 seed Kansas all the more exciting.

Can the Purple Eagles shock the world and become the first #16 seed to defeat a #1?

Probably not. But they have a better chance than anyone to do so.

In any event, welcome to the pod, Niagara. See you in Chicago.


13 March 2007

KenPom runs numbers on West bracket

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/13/2007 05:29:00 PM

Ken Pomeroy, the statistical oracle of college basketball, has published his much-vaunted "Log5" analysis on Villanova's West bracket of the NCAA Tournament.

The Log5 method is simply the application of a statistical formula to every possible NCAA tournament game for a given team.

The basic formula:

A - A * B
WPct = -----------------
A + B - 2 * A * B

where "A" is team A's winning percentage and "B" is team B's winning percentage.

Pomeroy's analysis confirms the conventional wisdom about the top-side of the bracket. Namely, that the first pod, with Kansas, Villanova, and Kentucky, is quite strong, whereas the next pod, featuring Virginia Tech, Illinois, Southern Illinois, and Holy Cross, is extremely weak.

According to Ken, "The Jayhawks have the worst chance of all the No. 1’s to get to the Sweet 16, but the 2nd best to win the championship." I would agree with that.

Below are the numbers for the full bracket. Note that Villanova has the seventh-best chance of the 16-team region to advance to the Final Four.

                 2nd Rd  Sweet16   Elite8   Final4   
1 Kansas 99.19% 78.52% 66.68% 48.48%
2 UCLA 98.08% 67.22% 38.23% 16.59%
6 Duke 86.21% 51.88% 27.54% 11.37%
3 Pittsburgh 89.71% 43.85% 20.50% 7.35%
7 Indiana 71.17% 26.83% 11.68% 3.76%
8 Kentucky 50.09% 10.76% 6.46% 2.69%
9 Villanova 49.91% 10.69% 6.41% 2.67%
12 Illinois 50.70% 30.03% 6.59% 2.29%
5 Va. Tech 49.30% 28.88% 6.21% 2.12%
4 S. Illinois 82.89% 38.49% 7.52% 2.36%
10 Gonzaga 28.83% 5.86% 1.43% 0.25%
11 VCU 13.79% 3.05% 0.49% 0.06%
13 Holy Cross 17.11% 2.60% 0.13% 0.01%
14 Wright St. 10.29% 1.22% 0.12% 0.01%
15 Weber St. 1.92% 0.09% 0.00% 0.00%
16 Play-In 0.81% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00%

According to the Log5 numbers, the Villanova-Kentucky game is extremely close. Kentucky is favored by 18 one-hundreths of a percentage point. As KenPom himself says:

Villanova has been playing better over the past month, while Kentucky’s defense has continued to regress. But Kentucky’s schedule has been the toughest in the land. The health of Mike Nardi could be crucial in deciding this one.

The Log5 also says that Villanova has only a 0.27 percent chance to win the National Championship. Hey, that's only 369.37-to-1. For comparison, Kansas's odds, according to the Log5, are 4.29-to-1. Florida's Log5 odds for a national title are significantly worse at 8.22-to-1.

In reality, I would put Villanova's odds at slightly better than 370-to-1. If the team gets rolling and can get to the Sweet 16, the draw is very favorable. Bodog is taking bets on 'Nova to win it all at 70-1, and perhaps double that would be the fair odds.

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Wildcats vs. Wildcats

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/13/2007 02:40:00 AM
Kudos to "lowballj" for posting this amusing and appropriate Simpsons clip. Enjoy.

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12 March 2007

Most pick 'Nova over Kentucky

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/12/2007 10:57:00 PM

All signs point to the American public favoring Villanova over Kentucky in Friday's 8 vs.9-seed, first-round match-up.

Sports fans selected Villanova over Kentucky in both the CBS SportsLine National Bracket and the ESPN Tournament Challenge National Bracket. At the time of this writing, 60.2 percent of sports fans filling out ESPN brackets chose Villanova in the game.

If those percentages are accurate, it means Kentucky has less of a chance to win this game than a craps shooter has to make a point of 5 or 9. And we all know how difficult that is.

CBS Sportsline does not release the percentages associated with its national bracket. CBS did post the brackets of its panel of seven experts. Six of the seven experts chose Villanova to advance. The lone dissenter? Former Villanova head coach Steve Lappas. Take what you will from that.

Finally, the Las Vegas and offshore sportsbooks weigh in on the subject, installing Villanova as the 1-point favorite over the higher-seeded Kentucky at the time of this writing.

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Nardi hurting but hopeful

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/12/2007 07:22:00 PM

The Associated Press pens a long piece about the status of Mike Nardi today.

According to the report, Nardi is still in a lot of pain, but is optimistic about playing in the NCAA Tournament. The senior guard had missed most of Villanova's two games in the Big East Tournament last week in New York.

The story begins somewhat dramatically:

Mike Nardi plays with a brace on one ankle, tape on the other, at less than full speed, and unable to make cuts. In the Big East tournament, he was in agony.

Other than that, Nardi is fine.

After missing practice on Sunday, Nardi underwent a bone scan for his injured left ankle on Monday morning. No further damage was revealed, but the ankle is still sprained. He also still has a strained left calf muscle.

Nardi was able to practice today. Coach Jay Wright and Nardi both remain hopeful Mike will be ready to go against Kentucky on Friday. Villanova was given the latest possible game in round one, which gives Nardi as much time as possible to heal.

According to Nardi:

I think I've rested it enough. I can't change the way it feels. [...] I want to have an impact on this team and hopefully we can do some damage.

Villanova's first-round NCAA game against #8 Kentucky tips off at 9:40 p.m. Villanova time on Friday night.

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'Nova-UK will be Chicago nightcap

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/12/2007 12:19:00 AM
After six tense hours of mystery and debate, we finally have the approximate tip time for Villanova's first-round NCAA game against Kentucky on Friday at Chicago's United Center.

According to the official Kentucky athletics Web site, Villanova and Kentucky will be the second game of the second session, scheduled for 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Kansas game. Kansas's game against the play-in winner starts at 6:10 p.m. local time. This should place our game at around 8:40 p.m. local time, or 9:40 p.m. Villanova time.

UK Athletics has the full bracket with start times available as a PDF file.

Update: The official NCAA scoreboard now lists all the start times, and slates the Villanova-Kentucky game for 9:30 p.m. Eastern.

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11 March 2007

'Nova gets 9-seed vs. Kentucky

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/11/2007 06:22:00 PM

The Selection Committee placed Villanova in the West bracket as a #9 seed with a first round game versus #8 Kentucky. The game will be played on Friday, March 16 in Chicago's United Center. The winner of the match-up of the two Wildcats will likely face #1 Kansas. UCLA is a #2 on the other side of that same bracket, making it arguably the toughest region of the four, as many expected both UCLA and Kansas to be #1 seeds..

Personally, I feel Villanova got disrespected to be slotted as low as a #9, especially considering its resume versus such seeds as #9 Purdue, #8 BYU, #7 Nevada, #6 Duke, #6 Vandy, and #5 Butler. Kentucky fans are also probably upset with such a difficult first round match-up.

The Big East got just six teams in, despite nearly unanimous projections by bracketologists that Syracuse would be the seventh Big East team selected. The committee did not seem impressed with the Big East in the seeding. Marquette especially seems seeded far too low at #8 for a team with such a strong resume. #1 North Carolina cannot be happy with its potential second-round match-up.

CBS has posted a seeded printable bracket.

Click on the small bracket below for a larger viewable version.

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09 March 2007

GM: Cheeks will coach Sixers next season

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/09/2007 09:17:00 PM
Villanova fans can breathe a sigh of relief tonight, as Philadelphia 76ers president Billy King gave his current coach Maurice Cheeks a vote of confidence for next season.

This should put to bed the persistent rumor that Villanova coach Jay Wright would be lured to the NBA next year to revive the struggling Philadelphia franchise.

The rumor had been exacerbated by a string of appearances at Villanova games by Larry Brown, a 76ers executive. Apparently the Villanova, Pa-resident Brown really was just there to watch basketball, and not woo the up-and-coming Wright.

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A-Ray called back up to NBA

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/09/2007 06:05:00 PM
The Boston Celtics have recalled guard Allan Ray back from the Austin Toros, their NBDL affiliate, according to a Celtics press release.

Ray averaged 14.5 points in the two games he played with the Toros. A-Ray had averaged 4.9 points per game in 33 NBA games for the Celtics this season.

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08 March 2007

Watch the G'town game live

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/08/2007 12:12:00 PM
Good day, Villanova fans.

For those of you stuck without a television, here is a backdoor link to ESPN360's online broadcast of the game live. This link works with any internet service provider.

Here is the stream.


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Injury update

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/08/2007 02:43:00 AM
Villanova guard Reggie Redding, who started in place of injured Mike Nardi in Wednesday's opening-round Big East game against DePaul, was himself injured in that game with a mildly sprained ankle. Redding should be able to play Thursday's noon game against the top-seeded Georgetown Hoyas.

Nardi was only able to go a few minutes in Wednesday's game on his strained left calf. He is expected to be limited but available for Thursday's contest. Nardi will likely see more time against the Hoyas than he did on Wednesday, according to Villanova coach Jay Wright.

Sixth man Shane Clark is also suffering from leg pain but will play Thursday.

The New York Times has further information regarding the Villanova injury situation in its college basketball blog.

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Villanova beats DePaul to advance in BET

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/08/2007 02:40:00 AM
Villanova advanced to round two of the Big East Tournament with a 75-67 win today over the #8 seed DePaul Blue Demons at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Scottie Reynolds set a new Villanova Big East Tournament record for scoring with 29 points. Reynolds was one of just four Wildcats to attempt a field goal Wednesday. Reynolds also led all scorers in the eight-team, four-game opening round of the tournament Wednesday.

The 'Cats will face the top-seeded Georgetown Hoyas Thursday at noon in the rubber match of a hard-fought season split.

Full analysis and player grades for both games will be up Thursday night.

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06 March 2007

Nardi 'feeling better,' expects to play

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/06/2007 07:02:00 PM

According to an article published today in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Villanova senior started Mike Nardi expects to play in tomorrow afternoon's game against DePaul in the first round of New York's Big East Tournament.

Though he was unable to practice on Monday, Nardi told the Inquirer he was "feeling better" two days after straining his left calf muscle in Villanova's win against Syracuse at the Wachovia Center Saturday.

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Reynolds is Big East Rookie of the Year

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/06/2007 06:47:00 PM

As was widely expected, Villanova freshman Scottie Reynolds won the Big East Conference Rookie of the Year award tonight in New York.

Reynolds was selected by the league's head coaches for the honor. The Rookie of the Year award was part of a series of annual Big East Conference awards also announced tonight.

Georgetown's Jeff Green won the Player of the Year award, and Mike Brey of Notre Dame was Coach of the Year.

Reynolds averaged 18.4 points per game in conference play, second in the league. His 40 points in Villanova's win at Connecticut were the most points scored by any player in a Big East game this season. Reynolds also averaged 4.1 assists per game in conference play.

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05 March 2007

Reynolds again Katz's national player of week

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/05/2007 03:46:00 PM

ESPN's Andy Katz has named Villanova's fabulous freshman Scottie Reynolds his national player of the week for the second time this year. Reynolds led Villanova in scoring in each of its two wins last week, notching 40 and 22 points against Connecticut and Syracuse respectively.

Reynolds also earned Big East player of the weekhonors for his performance.

Katz praises Reynolds and says he could be instrumental in the Wildcats' post-season hopes:

Reynolds remains the best pickup in years for a coach after another coach moved to a new program. If Reynolds keeps this up, he could find a way to help Villanova make a deep run in the Big East tourney.


Sumpter, Reynolds win All-Big-East honors

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/05/2007 01:39:00 PM

Villanova's Curtis Sumpter was named a member of the All-Big-East first team, and freshman Scottie Reynolds earned second-team all-conference honors in the annual end-of-season awards selected by the league's head coaches.

The full rosters are available on the Big East Web site.

Reynolds also was selected as a member of the Big East All-Rookie Team. Along with Connecticut's Jerome Dyson and Seton Hall's Eugene Harvey, Reynolds was one of just three unanimous selections to the 11-member rookie team.

Villanova senior Mike Nardi earned an All-Big-East Honorable Mention nod.

Conference player of the year and rookie of the year awards are expected to be announced tomorrow.

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Reynolds wins BE Rookie of the Week. Again.

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/05/2007 02:19:00 AM

Villanova's sensational freshman point guard Scottie Reynolds has won the Big East Conference Rookie of the Week accolade for a third time this season.

The Big East press release points out that Reynolds averaged 31.0 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 boards, and 3.0 steals in last week's victories over Connecticut and Syracuse.

The Big East also noted that Reynolds has now improved his in-conference scoring average to 18.4, second in the league.

Villanova fans can bet the farm that Reynolds will win the Big East Rookie of the Year award this week. Reynolds also has a chance to make the all-conference team. Stay tuned.

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Inquirer's Smith praises Jay Wright

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/05/2007 02:06:00 AM

Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer ran a piece in praise of Villanova coach Jay Wright penned by Stephen A. Smith, the columnist perhaps best-known for his high-decibel speaking voice during television appearances on the sports network ESPN.

Smith attributes the current team's success to Wright's positive attitude and dedication to substance over image. It's interesting that Smith chose to emphasize that latter point, as Coach Wright's image has had no shortage of admirers.

Nonetheless, Smith is right to note that this team has exceeded all reasonable pre-season expectations, which were generally muted in appreciation of Villanova's on-paper talent dearth.

Smith quotes Jay Wright at length in the article, but Wright sounds particularly effusive in this passage:

There were so many question marks in regards to me and all the young kids, losing the guys we lost, I really just wanted to maintain the tradition we established of being tough, competitive and hard to play against. That's all I ever wanted from my guys. And I wanted my seniors to maintain our leadership, and they did that. But then they went beyond the call of duty. They stuck together through injuries. [Reynolds] really stepped up. We go at Oklahoma and win. At Providence, we win. At Georgetown. Things that usually don't happen... happened. We beat Texas, and Sumpter didn't even play in that game. He didn't play against Providence, either. So things like that takes things to another level for us. It really impressed me about these groups of kids. It's what is fun about college, coaching these kids.

Smith's full article is worth a click, if only to watch Stephen A. restrain himself by making just one "Wright stuff" pun.

Please do not be alarmed by this paragraph, however:

That much was easy to notice yesterday afternoon, after Villanova's thrilling 78-75 win over Syracuse at the Wachovia Center, a day when the Wildcats probably clinched an NCAA tournament berth - barring a collapse in the upcoming Big East tournament.

Villanova fans, do not despair. Villanova did not "probably" clinch an NCAA bid, "barring a collapse" in the BET. The Wildcats are a solid an NCAA lock as any team in the country, no matter how far they advance at Madison Square Garden.

It looks like Joe Lunardi's bracketology job at ESPN is safe for now, as is Stephan A's gig of being heckled at NBA drafts.


04 March 2007

Big East Tournament bracket

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/04/2007 07:03:00 PM
The Big East Conference has posted the full bracket for the conference tournament starting Wednesday. You can view the bracket below (click for a larger picture), or download it in PDF form from the Big East Web site.

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Big East standings set

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/04/2007 04:01:00 PM
With the St. John's Red Storm's win over Providence this afternoon, seedings for the Big East Tournament are now set.

Villanova earns the #9 seed and will play #8 DePaul on Wednesday at noon in Madison Square Garden.

Check out the final Big East standings.

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Correction and apology

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/04/2007 01:40:00 PM
Earlier this morning, Let'sGoNova team member Matthew posted an article regarding player Casiem Drummond that was based on rumor, not fact. Let'sGoNova takes journalistic integrity very seriously and deeply apologizes for any confusion that may have arisen based on this erroneous article.

Let'sGoNova issues the following correction: We have received no "confirmation" of any kind that Drummond will transfer at season's end. We deeply regret the error.

Rest assured, the article has been deleted from the site, and the writer responsible for posting the story has been permanently removed from the Let'sGoNova team.

-- Pete

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03 March 2007

'Cats top 'Cuse in regular season finale

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/03/2007 06:13:00 PM

Villanova 78
Syracuse 75

Syracuse: 21-9 (10-6 BE) RPI: 50; SOS: 48.
Villanova: 20-9 (21-9, 9-7 BE, 4-0 B5) RPI: 18; SOS: 7.

Next game: BET R1, vs. DePaul or West Virginia (TBD), 03.07 @ Madison Square Garden.

Villanova closed out its regular season today with a big win over the Syracuse Orangemen at the Wachovia Center. The victory gave the Wildcats 20 wins versus Division I competition, and inked the team's final conference record at 9-7. The win also will likely ensure a higher NCAA seed for Villanova, assuming the Wildcats can get at least one win at the Big East Tournament in New York City.

The game itself today was fairly physical and rough. The game was marred by two ugly technical/intentional fouls and generally poor officiating. After coming out of the gate hot, the Wildcats fell behind in the middle of the game, only to make a comeback and take a large lead of their own. The Orange had one last run in them that was greatly assisted by two dumb plays by Villanova's front line, and one even-dumber intentional foul call with 3.9 seconds left. Despite these setbacks, Villanova was able to hang on to the win.

Many Villanova fans watching the game probably needed a hearty dose of Tums after the way things unfolded at the very end. After Scottie Reynolds sank two free throws with 8 seconds left to give the 'Cats a 6-point lead, the game seemed to be all but over. Syracuse raced up the court and Josh Wright drove into the lane to try a quick lay-up. In what may be the worst decision by a Villanova player I have ever seen, senior Curtis Sumpter stepped in to try to take a charge. Instead, he was whistled for a blocking foul, and 'Cuse was awarded two foul shots with 3.9 seconds on the clock. Wright made both free throws, and then things got crazy.

As the second foul shot was going in, Villanova's Dante Cunningham was jockeying for position on the blocks with Syracuse star Demetrius Nichols. Cunningham attempted the murkily illegal "swim-move" box-out, and his flailing arms grazed Nichols's head. Nine times out of 10, Cunningham's arms would have grazed Nichols's abdomen, but Nichols had lost his balance after moving inside Cunningham for the rebound.

Incredibly, the referee blew his whistle and called a technical foul on Cunningham, which was later amended to an intentional foul. The result, however, was the same: Syracuse would get two free throws and the ball, down 4 with 3.9 seconds left.

Luckily for the 'Cats, Nichols only made one of the free throws, and the Orange could not sink either of the two three-point attempts they managed to fire before the buzzer. Had Syracuse tied or even won the game on a 6- or 7-point possession in under 4 seconds, however, it would have been one of the greatest collapses/comebacks in the history of American sports.

In my opinion, the intentional foul call on Cunningham was tremendously incorrect. By definition, an intentional foul is, well, intentional. Anyone could see that Cunningham had made inadvertent and immaterial contact with Nichols. At worst, it should have been a regular foul. At best, it's inadvertent contact and a non-call. What it certainly should not have been, however, was a chance for Syracuse to make up 6 or 7 points in one trip down the floor in a game that had been over.

I really admire the way Jay Wright handled the incident. As soon as the technical foul was called, and the arena exploded into stunned silence, Jay had the presence of mind to calmly call his team over to discuss the situation. When the buzzer sounded and the win was intact, however, Wright sprinted down the sideline to confront the offending official. Rather than face Wright, the official cowered behind security personnel, who then ushered him into the tunnel amidst the boos, curses, and popcorn raining down. Did the official really believe Jay Wright was going to hit him?

This 90-foot dash by Jay somewhat stunned his players, who were momentarily confused before they finally formed the usual handshake line. By the time Jay made it back down to the North side of the court, his team was already engaged in the traditional v-sign salute to the student section.

Next up for the 'Cats will be either DePaul or West Virginia at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Though Villanova lost to both those squads in the regular season, the Wildcats would likely now be a favorite over either of them on the neutral Garden floor.

Villanova's opponent hinges on the results of Sunday's game between St. John's and Providence. If St. John's wins, Villanova will get a #9 seed in the BET and be paired against #8 DePaul Wednesday at noon. If Providence wins, Villanova will be the #10 seed and will play the 7 p.m. game Wednesday against #7 West Virginia.

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

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 40 min)

    Scottie followed up his 40 points at UConn with another spectacular game today. After struggling early to overcome an Orange 2-3 zone that seemed intent on denying him any look at the basket, Reynolds put the team on his back in the second half. Scottie led the team in scoring with 22 points on 6-19 shooting. He was 2-8 from the three and a perfect 8-8 from the line. He grabbed 3 rebounds and co-led the team in turnovers with 5. His best stats of the day, however, were his 4 steals and 6 assists. Reynolds was flying all over the court on offense and defense, mucking up Cuse's offensive plans and setting up his teammates for easy baskets. Though he struggled a bit with his three-point shooting and with the turnovers, Reynolds once again did what was needed to win. It should be noted that with Nardi injured for much of the game, Reynolds also assumed primary ball-handling duties, in which he excelled. Let me be among the first to ask Scottie to stay at least one more year!
    Grade: A-

  • Curtis Sumpter (S, 40- min)

    For 39-plus minutes, it was the kind of performance from Sumpter that Villanova fans had been waiting for. Curtis was dominant in the paint today. Sumpter scored 20 points on 6-15 shooting, including 2-5 from the three. He was 6-9 from the foul line. He led all rebounders with an incredible 15 boards. He also had 2 blocks. The only negatives were his 5 turnovers, co-leading the team, and the foul with 3.9 seconds left, described above. His in-game performance grade before that foul was an A-, but I'm docking a full letter grade for that boneheaded play. A senior leader like Curtis should know game situations, and there is no excuse for being anywhere near the paint in the path of a driver while up 6 points with 4 seconds left. It nearly cost the 'Cats the game.
    Grade: B-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 34 min)

    Cunningham exploded offensively today, pretty much taking over the second half at the foul line. Dante scored 21 points on 5-13 shooting, and was a remarkable 11-11 at the free throw line. He pulled in 8 rebounds, blocked 2 shots, and had 1 steal and 1 assist. He committed 2 turnovers. Cunningham also made a great heads up play on the opening tip, taking advantage of Syracuse defenders confused as to the direction of their basket, to open the game with a monster dunk. His performance for the first 39:56 was a solid A, but as with Sumpter, I have to deduct a full grade for what occurred in the last 4 seconds. True, the official over-reacted, but there is no reason Cunningham should have been that aggressive in the first place, in that game situation. Objectively, Cunningham's swim-move should have been a regular foul, which still would have placed the game in peril unnecessarily.
    Grade: B

  • Reggie Redding (25 min)

    With Mike Nardi suffering from a twisted ankle and possible back spasms, Redding was once again conscripted into emergency guard duty. Redding played 25 minutes of good basketball, especially on the defensive end, where he almost single-handedly shut down Nichols, the conference's leading scorer. Redding also looked great passing the ball. He routinely found the open man, setting up several scores with his passing. Two areas where Reggie underperformed were ball-handling and shot-taking. Reggie got trapped in the corner after giving up his dribble a couple of times, which is patently against basketball fundamentals. Redding also passed up a few open shots that he should have taken. Redding finished with 0 points on 0-2 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, and 0 turnovers. Overall it was a good, solid performance by Reggie.
    Grade: B

  • Will Sheridan (S, 24 min)

    Sheridan played decently today. Though he was customarily quiet on offense (5 points on 1-1 shooting), Sheridan looked good on defense. He also was fair on the boards, grabbing 5 rebounds. He did turn the ball over 3 times, which is too many for a big man playing only half the game. He added 1 block and 1 steal.
    Grade: C

  • Shane Clark (23 min)

    Clark played a good complementary game today. He scored 8 points on an efficient 3-4 shooting performance from the field and a perfect 2-2 mark at the foul line. He added 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a block, and a steal. He committed no turnovers and played good defense.

  • Mike Nardi (S, 13 min)

    Nardi injured his ankle early in the game, and was also said to be suffering from painful back spasms. He was not effective today, probably due to the injuries. Nardi scored 3 points on 1-5 shooting, and had 1 assist and 1 turnover. His status for the Big East Tournament has not yet been determined; the sprained or twisted ankle was apparently of the low variety, which is a good sign. I would not be surprised, however, to see Mike sit out Wednesday as a precaution, especially with the 'Cats' NCAA dance card already stamped. I'll try to update the site with Mike's status early this week as we learn more.
    Grade: NA

  • Note: Villanova radio reported that reserve forward Casiem Drummond was serving a one-game suspension for a minor violation of a team rule.

  • Incomplete grades:
    Bilal Benn
    (1 min).

  • Did not play:
    Casiem Drummond
    (1-game suspension), Dwayne Anderson (CD), Frank Tchuisi (CD), Ross Condon (CD), Andrew Ott (RS), Antonio Pena (RS).

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01 March 2007

ESPN: Reynolds a "Hiro"

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/01/2007 05:47:00 PM

O.K., I thought ESPN was a sister network of ABC, not NBC. I'm not sure how happy the corporate masters are over at Disney, but ESPN's Andy Glockner is obviously a huge fan of "Heroes," the breakout NBC drama.

Glockner devotes his entire "Drive to 65" bubble-watch column today to Villanova's own Scottie Reynolds, drawing parallels between Reynold's game last night with the supernatural abilities of the Heroes cast.

According to Glockner, Reynolds used his "special powers" to save Villanova's season. He is right. Reynolds's performance last night was fairly superhuman.

Glockner goes on with his metaphor:

[S]hould we start calling Villanova's Scottie Reynolds "Silar," after the evil character in "Heroes" who kills people and takes their powers? Reynolds certainly was Villanova's hero Wednesday night. He killed UConn from behind the arc, showing his newfound ability to go thermonuclear with a 40-point explosion in a four-point win greatly enhanced Nova's at-large hopes. Reynolds has been anything but invisible down the stretch, having poured in 90 points in his last three games. [...]

Right about now, Oklahoma fans probably are hoping that Reynolds can come and erase their memory. [...]

Glockner didn't move Villanova to the "lock" column yet, as I would have. But he did place the 'Cats and upcoming opponent Syracuse into the "should be in" category, which really should be re-titled "all but in" this late in the season.

One more thing to note. Glockner closes his column with what I hope becomes a new Villanova catchphrase:

Bottom line: If Reynolds is able to read the minds of the selection committee, he's probably feeling pretty good about his team's chances right now. Save the Wildcats ... save the world

Save the Wildcats, save the world. Indeed.

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Will Reynolds go pro?

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/01/2007 05:06:00 PM

After Scottie's 40-point explosion in Storrs last night, the college basketball world is abuzz with Reynolds chatter. One of the most frequent discussions today is will Scottie go pro, and if so, when.

The folks over at BigEastHoops sure seem to think he is going pro, and sooner than later, to boot. One of their writers, Donald, says "so long, Scottie," estimating there is a 100 percent chance he leaves this year:

Mark my words: Scottie Reynolds is gone after this year. Corey Fisher, one of the top prep guards in the country is going to Villanova next year, so he’ll have the share the ball (and limelight) with him next year. As it is, Reynolds doesn’t stand much to gain from staying next year. He’s shown improvements each month of the season, culminating in his 40 point performance last night in a win over UConn. He’s a bit undersized to play in the NBA (kind of like Khalid El-Amin), and that’s not going to change next year. He would be smart to leave.

Willie, another one of their pundits, sets the over/under for Scottie leaving at two years. Willie later says there is a 0 percent chance Scottie stays for his junior year, which makes his over/under a bit skewed. Well, good thing he's a basketball writer and not a bookmaker.

So what's my take on this issue? I believe Reynolds will go pro, and I believe he will leave early. I don't think it will happen this year, though, due to the fact that this year's draft class is over-stuffed with talent.

Here is my best guess on the probabilities. Note that I think Reynolds has a 95 percent chance to go pro overall.

After year:Chance Reynolds will have gone pro:
Freshman 15%
Sophomore 55%
Junior 80%
Senior 95%

At this point, the team needs to concentrate on its NCAA Tournament run. But it's always nice to have a player be a part of the national discussion. Here's hoping Scottie helps bring home an NCAA title during his 'Nova career, no matter what the year.

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Reynolds explodes at UConn as 'Cats punch dance ticket

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/01/2007 12:31:00 AM

Villanova 78
Connecticut 74

Connecticut: 17-12 (6-9 BE)
Villanova: 19-9 (20-9, 8-7 BE, 4-0 B5)

Next game: vs. Syracuse , 03.03 @The Wachovia Center.

It might have been a little too close for comfort, but Scottie Reynolds and the Villanova Wildcats stamped their NCAA dance card tonight with a victory at the University of Connecticut.

With the win, Villanova improved to 8-7 in Big East play, thus ensuring at least a .500 finish in conference. Several national bracketology experts declared before the game that with one more win the Wildcats would be solidly in the NCAA field of 65, and I agree. Villanova's name will be called on Selection Sunday; we are now playing for seeding.

The story tonight was Scottie Reynolds. The freshman once again put the entire team on his back and willed the Wildcats to the win. Reynolds dropped 40 points on the Huskies to become the highest scoring visitor ever at the Gampel Pavilion, where the 'Cats had only won once before.

Reynolds shattered all kinds of records tonight. He now holds the highest single game point total for a freshman this season in the nation, beating out consensus player-of-the-year Kevin Durant. Reynolds also now becomes the leading single-game freshman scorer in Villanova history. He missed that same accolade in Big East history by a single point. Finally, Reynolds is the only Wildcat to score 40 points this decade.

With the 40-point performance in Villanova's biggest game of the season, Reynolds also erased any doubt about who would earn the Big East Conference's rookie of the year award. Now Reynolds' name must be seriously considered for national rookie team honors and the first-team all-conference award.

Villanova has three starting scholarship seniors about to embark on their final post-season run, but there is no question about whose team this is when the chips are down. Will Scottie "pull a Carmelo" and lead his team to great post-season heights nearly singlehandedly as a freshman? Only time will tell, but he sure has a great start.

On Saturday, Villanova closes out its regular season with a 2 p.m. game against the Syracuse Orange at the Wachovia Center. Though both of the teams should be safely in the tournament at this point, Saturday's game has tremendous seeding implications, and could provide the winner with some immutable bubble insurance should several conference tournaments end in upsets.

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

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 36 min)

    Unbelievable. Unstoppable. Unreal. It's difficult to describe the degree to which Scottie Reynolds carried Villanova tonight. For starters, Reynolds scored 51 percent of the Wildcats' points tonight while playing just 18 percent of their minutes. If you add in the 6 points Reynolds set up with his team-leading 3 assists, Reynolds accounted for 59 percent of the 'Cats offense. And in reality, it was even more than that. The game plan for tonight was simply "give it to Scottie." Sure, the other Wildcats did a great job setting some high ball screens for Scottie, and grabbing some offensive boards, but on offense it was basically one-on-five. And we won. That's how good Reynolds is. Hall-of-famer Jim Calhoun knew the plan, knew who was getting the ball, and knew where it was going, but the UConn coach and his players simply could not stop Reynolds.

    Let's take a look at the statistics. Reynolds shot a remarkable 12-25 (48 percent) from the field despite the fact that he was was the primary focus of the Huskies' defense, and everyone in Storrs knew it. At 6-15, he was 40 percent from the three, which is the equivalent of 60 percent from inside the arc. Reynolds got to the line a ridiculous 14 times, and netted 10 of those free throws in what was arguably the "weakest" part of his game tonight. Scottie led the team in assists with 3. Reynolds also grabbed 4 rebounds, committed 4 turnovers, and snagged 2 steals. It was simply a sublime, dominating performance from the freshman, hopefully one of many more to come.
    Grade: A

  • Mike Nardi (S, 32 min)

    Nardi played well for most of the game by playing within himself. He drilled two open threes and shot a perfect 6-6 from the line to finish with 12 points on 2-6 shooting from the field. He did make bad decisions with the ball, however, especially in crunch time. Nardi co-led the team with 4 turnovers, including two inexcusable back-to-back turnovers that let the Huskies right back into the game at the end. If this team is going to have any hopes of an NCAA run, Nardi has to improve in the clutch. Mike added 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
    Grade: C-

  • Curtis Sumpter (S, 28 min)

    This was the prototypical game from Sumpter at his best, free to play a complementary role on offense. He looked superb in cleaning up the boards, especially on his 3 offensive put-backs. He led the team in rebounds with 10. Sumpter also scored 18 points on 7-15 shooting, and was 4-5 from the foul line. He had 1 turnover, and 1 block. Getting 18 and 10 from Curtis would be huge the rest of the way, especially if it is in his preferred complementary mode.
    Grade: A-

  • Will Sheridan (S, 28 min)

    Sheridan played some good defense on UConn's imposing young front line before fouling out. He finished with 0 points on 0-3 shooting, but did grab 7 rebounds. He did a lot of the important "little things" to win the game. He led the team with 4 steals, and added 2 assists. Aside from the complete lack of offense, a good game by Will.
    Grade: B-

  • Shane Clark (27 min)

    Clark was quiet for the majority of the game. He did hit two huge free throws at the end to seal up the victory, but was generally missing in action before that. Clark shot 1-4 from the field and 2-4 from the line to finish with 4 points. He only had 2 rebounds, and did not get any steals, blocks, or assists. His defense was probably his strongest point tonight.

  • Reggie Redding (16 min)

    Redding did not make much of an impact on the box score, but the box score was not the only story. Reggie provided some absolutely crucial relief minutes for the foul-plagued 'Cats. He handled the ball strongly and did not commit a turnover. Reggie also made one of most critical plays of the game at the very end when he cooly completed a long pass down the court while double-teamed, breaking a ferocious Husky press. Redding scored 2 points on 1-1 shooting, and dished out 2 assists. His defense was excellent.
    Grade: B

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 15 min)

    Cunningham finally moved back into the starting lineup tonight, but spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble. He really looked out of it offensively, shooting 0-4 for 0 points. He grabbed 4 rebounds but committed 2 turnovers. Uncharacteristically, he had no steals or assists. Dante needs to get back in his excellent mid-season form, and the sooner, the better.
    Grade: D

  • Casiem Drummond (15 min)

    Aside from Scottie Reynolds, Casiem Drummond was the surprise player of the game for the 'Cats. Though he had been relegated to the bench for the past several games, Drummond seized his opportunity tonight to provide 15 minutes of excellent low-post play. He played outstanding defense on the formidable Husky front line, and grabbed 5 rebounds. He scored 2 points on 1-2 shooting. The box score does not credit him with a steal, but he had a beautiful strip and layup immediately following a UConn inbound. I would not complain at all if Drummond saw some significant minutes in the post from here on out.
    Grade: B

  • Incomplete grades:
    Bilal Benn
    (2 min), Dwayne Anderson (1 min),

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

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