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30 December 2007

'Nova beats La Salle to stay perfect in Big 5

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
12/30/2007 11:04:00 AM
Villanova 71
La Salle 58
(box score)

La Salle: 4-7 (0-0 A10, 0-1 B5)
#16 Villanova: 10-1 (0-0 BE, 3-0 B5)

Next game: at DePaul, 01/03 at Allstate Arena.

Villanova managed to outclass the La Salle Explorers to improve to 10-1 on the year and remain perfect in the Philadelphia Big 5 city series. It was the 14th consecutive Big 5 win for the Wildcats, who extended the all-time record for successive victories.

The 'Cats used the firepower of their starting backcourt to outgun the Explorers. Guards Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher combined for 37 of Villanova's 71 total points.

Villanova played good pressure defense to force 22 turnovers, but the Wildcats were sloppy with the ball themselves, committing 17 turnovers.

Villanova again went nine deep in the rotation, with all nine players who saw the court receiving double-digits in minutes. Dwayne Anderson, hero of the Hartford game, logged 18 minutes. Once again it looked like his play might earn him time during conference play.

Congratulations to reader "Matt" for most closely predicting the game's final score.

Next up for Villanova is the the start of conference play and a date with DePaul on Jan. 3 in Rosemont, Ill.

On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 35 min)

    Reynolds struggled a bit to get his shot going, going just 5-14 from the field and 1-4 from the three. He did, however, manage to put up a game-high 19 points, mostly by getting to the rim and getting to the line. Reynolds was 8-8 from the foul line, and was a decent 4-10 inside the arc. He grabbed 2 steals, jump-starting a few fast-breaks, and served up 3 assists. Reynolds committed 3 turnovers but otherwise handled the ball well. He managed to grab 4 rebounds, good for third-highest on the team.
    Grade: A-

  • Shane Clark (S, 33 min)

    Clark was much quieter on the offensive end than usual, taking just 4 shots. He made 3 of them to score 6 points, but was 0-2 from the foul line, and did not take a 3-pointer. He grabbed 6 rebounds and led the team in steals, with 3. He had an assist and a block and committed no turnovers in his 33 minutes. Aside from the lack of scoring, it was a fairly solid game from Shane Clark. With center Casiem Drummond now out indefinitely with a stress fracture, the Wildcats will rely on Clark a tad more to fill those vacated frontcourt minutes.
    Grade: B-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 28 min)

    Cunningham looked sharp against the Explorers, especially in the first half. He started off the game shooting 5-7 from the field before cooling off to shoot 6-11 overall. Cunningham dominated the glass against the Explorers, grabbing 12 rebounds, double the total of anyone else in the game. He was a little out of control at times, fouling out and committing 3 turnovers from the forward position. He looked solid creating space for himself down low and running in transition.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Fisher (S, 27 min)

    Fisher is definitely the best ballhandler on the team, and he showed it again against La Salle. Fisher led the team in assists, with 5, and turned the ball over only 2 times while handling point duties for much of the game. He carried a heavy load offensively, scoring 18 on 6-15 shooting, including 2-5 from the three. He was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line. Fisher is now consistently one of the team's best players, and will be a force in conference play.
    Grade: A-

  • Reggie Redding (S, 24 min)

    Redding continues to be a valuable role player in the backcourt. While he may never take over a game offensively, he does seem to do the little things to help the team win. That said, Redding played a quiet game against the Explorers, even by his standards. He took just 1 shot, though he did make it, and was 1-2 from the line to score 3 points. His defense was decent, but he did not notch a single assist or steal. On the plus side, he did not turn the ball over, either. Look for Redding to take a step forward with his offensive confidence as he enters his second Big East season.
    Grade: C-

  • Dwayne Anderson (18 min)

    I guess the secret is out on Dwayne Anderson. Long relegated to a role as the sixth guard on the team, Anderson has been making his impact felt as a basketball player first. He played another good game against La Salle. Anderson scored 4 points on 2-4 shooting. He added 3 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and 2 steals in his useful 18 minutes. As a longtime fan of Dwayne Anderson, I would like to see him remain in the rotation during conference play. If recent results are any indication, it looks like he will.
    Grade: B

  • Antonio Pena (15 min)

    Pena continues to develop and still has not fully tapped his tremendous talent and athleticism. Against La Salle, Pena scored 6 points on 2-6 shooting. He grabbed just 2 rebounds, and did not notch any other positive statistics. He committed 2 turnovers. Pena has better performances in him, and has the potential to explode into a powerful inside-outside scorer.
    Grade: C-

  • Malcolm Grant (10 min)

    Grant seems to alternate between Herculean efforts and smaller contributions. The La Salle game was in the latter category. Grant took just 3 shots, and sank a 3-pointer to score his only 3 points. He did handle the ball reasonably well in carrying out his point duties, dishing 2 assists and committing 2 turnovers. Overall, it was a quiet night from Grant, who nonetheless reserves the right to explode offensively at any given moment.
    Grade: C

  • Corey Stokes (10 min)

    At this point, it is time to accept that Corey Stokes will be a longer-term project than many people expected. Wildcat fans saw the McDonald's All-American logo next to Stokes's name, and were perhaps spoiled by the nearly instantaneous development of last year's All-American freshman, Scottie Reynolds, into an all-conference caliber player. It looks as if that will not be the path for Corey Stokes. While Stokes shows flashes of good instincts on the basketball court, it is his shooting that has been his Achilles' Heel. Ironically, the word on Stokes before the season was that no matter how long it took him to adapt to the Wildcat system, his shooting would be on from day one. Stokes certainly looks to be a streak shooter, but he has not had any positive streaks so far this season. Against the Explorers, Stokes was 0-2 from the field and did not score. He notched 1 assist and 1 turnover in his 10 minutes. On the positive side, Stokes's defense seems to be very slowly improving; Jay Wright would not give the All-American double-digit minutes if that were not the case.
    Grade: D

  • Incomplete grades: None

  • Did not play:
    Casiem Drummond
    (ankle), Andrew Ott (CD), Frank Tchuisi (CD), Jason Colenda (CD).

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At 10:18 AM, December 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only saw snippets of the game live, (at a wedding reception) but I had it TOVO'ed and looked at it pretty carefully.

I think I see a "Villanova Basketball TEAM" arising from a bunch of talented kids. Most of the lapses seemed to be on Offense, not Defense. I don't worry much about fire power, any one of eight or nine guys can get hot at any time, but bad "D" seems to last a whole game.

One more tune up.... Then PITT. We fans have the luxury of looking beyond the next game, even if the team does not.


At 2:07 PM, December 31, 2007, Blogger greyCat said...

I think that will be the trend this season with Malcolm. His job this year will be to give Fisher and Reynolds time to breath and watch the game a bit. He will not be called on to do LSU-type duty often...that will be next year. Stokes and Pena are going to be longer term than anticipated, but to this point the team has performed beyond my expectations (I anticipated another loss somewhere).


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