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24 January 2008

'Nova embarrassed by winless Rutgers in blowout Big East loss

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
1/24/2008 02:57:00 AM

Rutgers 80
Villanova 68
(box score)
(ESPN video highlights)

Rutgers: 9-11 (1-6 BE)
#18 Villanova: 13-4 (3-3 BE, 3-0 B5)

Next game: vs. Notre Dame, 01/26 at the Wachovia Center.

The wheels came off for Villanova tonight.

The Wildcats suffered easily their worst loss of the Jay Wright era, getting blown out by a Rutgers team that was previously winless in conference play, and widely regarded as one of the worst teams in Division 1 basketball.

When all is said and done this year, the loss may rank as the one of the worst in school history.

It's difficult to describe just how bad this loss is. The defeat will no doubt have huge implications for Villanova's NCAA Tournament hopes. The Wildcats can also kiss their #18 ranking in both major polls goodbye, as the team is sure to drop out of the top 25 regardless of what happens against Notre Dame on Saturday.

Granted, Villanova is a young team still trying to come together, and bad losses can be expected to emerge from inexperience. This loss doesn't end the season, and the 'Cats may yet achieve great things in 2008 and beyond. I don't know if anyone, however, thought this team could lose to Rutgers.

Rutgers entered the game on a 6-game losing streak and with an RPI well in the 200s. Previously in the season, Rutgers had lost to teams like St. Peter's, Nebraska, and Rider, with that last loss coming at home. Before giving DePaul a scare in Chicago last weekend, Rutgers failed to score more than 50 points in four of its last five games.

The NJ Institute of Technology, with its 0-20 record and RPI of 335, held Rutgers to just 65 points and a 10-point victory last month. Villanova allowed Rutgers 80 points and lost by 12. NJIT doesn't even have a conference to call home in Division 1 and still outperformed VIllanova against the common opponent.

Villanova started off the game flat, as usual, and fell behind by 14 after five minutes, with the scoreboard showing the ridiculous number of 16-2 at the 15:08 mark.

While Villanova wound up trailing by eight at the half, many Wildcat fans might have expected a come-from-behind victory similar to those against LSU, DePaul, Syracuse, and Bucknell.

The Wildcats, however, had other plans. Villanova showed no signs of life whatsoever until the 5:11 mark of the second half, when Jay Wright mercifully and magnanimously deemed it finally suitable to substitute in Malcolm Grant, with the team trailing by a whopping 18 points.

Grant, who had been benched much of the second half for reasons only known to Wright, proceeded to score 17 consecutive points in just over a two-minute stretch for the Wildcats. Unfortunately, even Malcolm Grant's late-game heroics were too little, too late (this time) to overcome the inexplicable playing-time decisions meted out by his coach.

Villanova went through a scoring drought that lasted 9:45, fifteen seconds short of a full quarter of a game. Can you imagine a team in high school or the NBA getting shut out for an entire quarter? The Wildcats were stuck on the laughable total of 39 points from the 16:12 mark all the way until 6:27 in the second half.

Despite Villanova's complete inability to score during that nearly 10-minute long stretch, Jay Wright thought it prudent to sit Malcolm Grant for all but three minutes of the Wildcat scoring drought.

I must say that while I believe Jay Wright is a good coach who generally has the program going in the right direction, I completely disagree with the way Wright managed his players' court time tonight.

Grant, easily one of Villanova's best scorers, was given just 18 minutes in the game, including a mere seven minutes in the second half. The under-use of Malcolm Grant has become a major theme for this season, and has been chronicled in this space time and time again.

It almost seems as if Jay Wright won't unleash Grant until it's too late for him to make a difference. Grant overcame those odds against LSU and DePaul, but why on earth would Wright sit Grant for 13 minutes in the crucial second half?

Wright even yanked Malcolm off the court after seven minutes in the first half, despite the fact that Malcolm was 1-1 from the field and had accounted for fully one-third of the team's total points.

Wright played Grant just 18 minutes while giving the thoroughly ineffective Shane Clark 24 minutes tonight. Wright also decided to give Corey Stokes, at this point a major project, 26 minutes and Grant's starting spot to open the second half.

Reggie Redding got just three minutes less than Grant despite scoring 23 fewer points and shooting a combined 1-6 from the field and foul line.

If you look at the box score, you might note that Malcolm Grant fouled out, and think that perhaps that was the reason he only saw 18 minutes. Think again. Four of Grant's fouls came with under four minutes to play in the game, and three of his fouls were committed under the two-minute mark, as the Wildcats were forced to try to get back the ball.

All in all, it was a terrible loss for the Wildcats and a poor performance by Jay Wright, who was in my opinion outfoxed tonight by his former assistant, Fred Hill. The 'Cats looked ill-prepared for the game, and did not seem to exhibit any hustle whatsoever on the defensive end.

Villanova's perimeter defense was poor, its offense was anemic, and its heart nowhere to be found outside of Malcolm Grant. The team really only played the last five minutes of the game, but by then, it was too late.

I would say it is time to move on and focus on Notre Dame for Saturday, but this is the type of loss that cannot be forgotten, even with a good victory later in the week.

A win over the Irish would be a good start to get the Wildcats back on track, but make no mistake about it, this loss sets the team and perhaps even the program back immeasurably.

"Congratulations" to reader Tony for most closely predicting the game's final score. Tony's guess was a total of 20 points off the final score, and still was the closest prediction for the game.

Next up for Villanova is Notre Dame, Saturday at noon at the Wachovia Center.

Let's move on to the player grades, which tonight are not for the faint of heart. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 37 min)

    Reynolds struggled mightily from the field tonight, shooting a comical 5-19, including 1-9 from the three. Can you really blame him, however, for taking all those shots when the rest of the team was equally inept on offense, and the one player who might have bailed him out was languishing needlessly on the bench for most of the game? It was a below-average effort for Scottie, though, without a doubt. Reynolds seemed unable to break free of a Rutgers defensive scheme that keyed on the sophomore guard. Scottie finished with 16 points, second best on the team. A bright spot for Reynolds tonight was his free-throw shooting, where he went 5-6. Another positive were his 3 steals, tied for tops on the team. Reynolds grabbed 2 rebounds and committed 2 turnovers. He gets a C- for carrying most of the scoring load while Grant was on the bench, but that might even be a tad generous.
    Grade: C-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 32 min)

    Cunningham was mostly ineffective tonight despite shooting a decent 4-8 from the field to score 9 points. Cunningham was denied on the boards, picking up just 4 rebounds, including only two offensive caroms in a game where the Wildcats shot a dismal 36.7 percent. Cunningham rounded out the box score with 2 turnovers, 2 blocks, and 3 steals. His grade would no doubt be higher with those same stats had the 'Cats not lost to probably the worst team in the all of the BCS conferences tonight.
    Grade: D+

  • Corey Stokes (26 min)

    Stokes actually played one of his best games of the season, which regrettably is not saying much. Still, the freshman managed to shoot relatively well from the field (3-7), including 3-4 from the three to score 9 points. He also grabbed 7 rebounds, but committed 2 turnovers. On the downside, Stokes looked a step slow on defense, and still cannot handle the ball very well out on the perimeter. Stokes also shot one of the worst looking balls I have ever seen, air-balling a layup from point-blank range that missed the rim by perhaps five feet. Nonetheless, this has to be considered a positive game for the freshman project. It's too bad that Stokes's best game to date had to come in one of the worst losses in school history, but perhaps Stokes can build upon this performance going forward.
    Grade: C

  • Shane Clark (S, 24 min)

    Clark put forth a dismal performance tonight, one of the worst by a Wildcat in recent memory. Clark shot 0-4 from the floor, including a miss on a crucial, wide-open three as Malcolm Grant attempted to rally the team very late in the game. Despite playing for 24 minutes for what can only presumably be his size, Clark grabbed just 2 rebounds. As bad as his offensive night was, his defense was far, far worse. Clark was slow getting up the court and slow getting back down. He gave his assignment on the perimeter all day to shoot the ball, and the Rutgers backcourt lit up the 'Cats for 46 points. I can see no justification as to why Clark played 4 minutes tonight, much less 24. Clark is a junior, a captain, and a leader on the team, but sometimes being a leader means taking a reduced role for the greater good. Here is that hoping Jay Wright realizes this before it's too late. In this writer's opinion, it is time for a drastic reduction in Clark's minutes.
    Grade: F

  • Antonio Pena (S, 22 min)

    Pena rebounded well tonight, grabbing 8 for the most on the team, but that's about it. He was blanked from the field, shooting 0-6 for 0 points. He also committed a ridiculous 6 turnovers. Pena has shown flashes of brilliance, especially on the offensive end, but did not play well tonight.
    Grade: D-

  • Reggie Redding (15 min)

    Redding could not get anything going tonight, and it shows in the box score. He shot 0-3 from the field and just 1-3 from the line to score a single point. He had just 1 rebound, and he had a steal. Redding played 15 ineffective minutes tonight, but I do feel like the 15-to 18 -minute range is appropriate for Redding going forward, as he generally is a much better contributor than he was in the RAC.
    Grade: F

  • Corey Fisher (15 min)

    Fisher struggled offensively tonight despite shooting 3-4 from the field. In a game where the Wildcats desperately needed scoring from any source, Fisher was uncharacteristically quiet. Fisher scored just 6 points. He added 2 rebounds, 2 turnovers, just 1 assist, and no steals. I do think that he probably should have seen more than 15 minutes of playing time tonight, however.
    Grade: D+

  • Malcolm Grant (S, 18 min)

    Grant has already been the comeback hero of the two games this season, and he came achingly close to pulling off what would have been his biggest miracle to date. Grant scored a ridiculous 17 straight points in a 2:15 stretch late in the second half. To put that in perspective, at that impossible pace Grant would have scored 302 points in 40 minutes. Much of the above of tonight's post has been dedicated to asking why Grant didn't see more court time, so let's just focus on what he did do in his 18 minutes. Grant shot 6-10 from the field, including 6-7 from the three to score 23 points. Grant made his first 5 attempted threes, and completed another 4-point play in the midst of his one-man rally. A few of Grant's late-game threes were heavily contested NBA-length shots, as well. Grant was 5-6 from the foul line. He had 1 rebound and 3 turnovers, and did not have any assists. To be fair, to whom was he supposed to pass the ball? No one else could find the rim tonight with a pair of binoculars and a GPS. It seems strange to give a player an A in one of the worst losses a team will ever experience, but there it is. Malcolm Grant should get at minimum 30 minutes per game going forward, and if he does not, expect a growing outcry from Villanova fans.
    Grade: A

  • Dwayne Anderson (11 min)

    Anderson wasn't altogether terrible tonight but did not accomplish much, either. He was 1-1 from the field to score 2 points, and added 2 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 turnover. I do think Anderson has earned the right to play 8-10 minutes per game, but he couldn't really get the job done tonight in this awful loss.
    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 8:11 AM, January 24, 2008, Blogger Paul said...

I couldn't have said it better myself, only to add a grade of D to Jay Wright. Something has to be done about the teams' slow start in most games.

At 9:07 AM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at that game..and I was embarrassed. The team had no sign of any offense whatsoever, and they consistently got beat on dribble drives by Rutgers guards. Shane Clark hung his head the entire game. In my opinion, anyone doing that should not be playing, especially when he should be setting an example for the younger guys. Malcolm Grant has more heart than anyone on this team and has more than proven himself 3 times now. He deserves 25-30 minutes a game at least. And on nights when Scottie doesn't have it from the field or from 3, pass the ball. What a terrible, terrible loss.

At 9:58 AM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay Wright is not an X and O coach. He sucks. They cannot play D. They have no heart. We are "a one trick pony" with Scottie Reynolds.

The team should turn in their jerseys after last night.

They are not a top 50 team, much less a top 25 team.

At 12:01 PM, January 24, 2008, Blogger garretthill said...

Shane Clark is contributing nothing positive to this team right now!!!

I have no idea what happened to him and his production from last year. Jay needs to seriously think about sitting him b/c he is really hurting them on the floor.

At 12:14 PM, January 24, 2008, Blogger Jamie said...

Thanks for summing it up because after driving the 3 hours back and forth to Piscataway, I really didn't have the heart or energy to do so.

-Jay needs to wake up and play Malcolm. I said that after the LSU and Pitt games.

-Scottie needs to get his head out of his ass and realize that his stock is FALLING faster than the nation's economy at the moment. Learn how to play some @#! defense and maybe, maybe you can play in the NBA someday.

-I say screw it, play the freshman. Feed them to the dogs that are the Big East. Reggie contributes nothing. Shane = nothing against good competition.

...isn't it insane how the loss of Casiem has turned this whole team upside down?

At 12:33 PM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW. This one hurts to the core of my soul. I am unbelievably frustrated with Jay Wright's coaching decisions. We are way past the time where Jay can keep 'experimenting' with line ups. He needs to read the box scores and take out the kids who aren't doing anything (SHANE and DWAYNE.) Why the hell would you take out Grant after just a bit while he was 1-1 from behind the arch? Why is Stokes penetrating? He fumbled every time he did. He is a shooter. I had the luxury of Tivo and watched some of the blown defenses in slow motion. THEY ARE GIVING UP ON DEFENSE. Cas, get your ass back in the lineup. Wright, you are a division 1 coach: coach like one.

The only thing that gives me hope is thinking about the first 2 years of Ray, Foye, Sumpter, and Frazier. We did not make the NCAA, but we went on to the elite 8 and sweet 16. But, if we want to be a program like Duke, Kansas, UNC, UCLA, Memphis then we need to start trying.

Horrible, horrible loss.

Lets watch closely this weekend to see how the cats respond. If they dont, SEASON OVER.

At 1:32 PM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the team reads this Blog. Cause I wanna know what they are thinking when they are playing out there, cause it sure as hell isnt the game or basketball for that matter. Jay Wright needs to take the green light away from Scottie, cause he's throwing up enough bricks to build a new building on campus. Shane, only god knows where his head is at. Our defense is horrendous. Last night's loss was embarrassing and sickening.

You guys need to find each other and work together and simply play some basketball. PLEASE

To give credit where credit is due, Good game by Grant, but 1 player can't win the game on his own.

At 2:05 PM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rutgers? Seriously?

At 3:23 PM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

embarrassing loss, that game will hurt us a lot come march... everyone on this blog seems to hype up grant too much... i understand he had some great late game heroics (again) but he was coming down the court and bombing straightaway threes without passing. i know it looked good because they were falling (and they have in other late game situations) but you CAN NOT run an offense like that in a close game. i would personally run onto the court and slap him if i saw him do that in a close game. fisher is much better at running an offense, which is why i don't understand why his playing time has decreased so much for the likes of reggie and dwayne.

At 3:35 PM, January 24, 2008, Blogger pete said...

Todd we were down 18 with 4 minutes to play. At that point it is desperation time. It's no time to go down the court and run a nice crisp 20-second offensive set. Down 16 with 2 minutes to go, it's heave-ho time.

There's no way Malcolm would have done that if it had been a close game. You can't make the comparison at all.

At 5:01 PM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pete, will you please delete the anti-nova comments.

At 5:23 PM, January 24, 2008, Blogger Eric said...

I'm with BossHog. Delete the anti-nova tripe along with the juvenile garbage that seems to be showing up more lately.

At 5:28 PM, January 24, 2008, Blogger pete said...

I'm not going to delete comments for being anti-Nova. Each commenter is responsible for his or her own post and opinion.

Here are comments I will delete:

- Hate-speech (racist, for example)

- Threats

- Spam/ repeat postings

- Personal attacks on another person

- Obvious libel

- Unnecessary obscenity / pornography

Each commenter is responsible for his or her own comments. It's up to you guys to decide who is credible.

At 6:16 PM, January 24, 2008, Blogger Paul said...

The key component of Nova's poor play this season is the inability to recover after trapping. At this point, I believe the players get how to help out on D, but don't understand how to rotate to cover the trappers man/area. Perhaps it's time to go to the 3-2 zone, 3-2 match up zone, 2-3 zone, etc.. Adjustments need to be made to make up for mental deficiencies. On another note, I'd take Jay Wright over anybody!!

At 8:59 PM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pete, that's my point. we're supposed to bomb threes in that situation, that's the only way we are going to come back. my point is malcolm doesn't have the same kind of production in close games because he is a natural gunner. he deserves credit for what he has done late in games but you need to put it into perspective, that's all. fisher is clearly a better floor general and better at running an offense.

At 9:11 PM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember when Jay said Malcolm is the heart and soul of his team, and he tries to stop that from being the case? all i want to know is, WHY?! Why is one of the best scorers on the team being benched more than half the game when were down so far? I don't understand why malcolm isn't playing more than other people when he is clearly so much better. I DONT GET IT DONT GET IT! This was by far the ugliest most disgusting game ever. And i think a lot of that blame has to go to jay wright, he needs to shape up his act!

At 10:04 AM, January 25, 2008, Blogger Unknown said...

I agree completely with Todd. Malcom definately needs to see more minutes, but he is not nearly as effective in running the offense as fisher is. I was at the game, and prior to the last 4 minutes, there were too many times where grant pounded the ball into the floor, drove, and never even thought about passing. with that being said, he still needs to be on the floor 25-30 minutes a game, at the very least so that he can learn how to run an offense.

as for shane clark. he honestly deserves no playing time. he contributes nothing on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. he is really really hurting this team right now.

jay wright is not a good coach. he is a great person/speaker, but when it comes to diagraming plays, he is not effective. 90% of the time our offense consists only of trying to beat your man off the dribble.

very frustrating team at this point, but they definately show a lot of potential. i am very curious to see how they respond against ND. a strong showing would really show a lot about their character.

At 12:21 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys are a bunch of bandwagon jumping fans! honestly, go root for memphis or duke. have we forgotten how young a team our wildcats are?! so they get blown away by rutgers and have not been playing to their potential but to say jay wright sucks is a load of crap. only a couple seasons ago did he make nova a #1 seed in the tourney. youre all pathetic for giving up on this team already. watch, they'll play a lot better from here on out, make the tourney, and everyone will be in love with the team again. you guys make me sick

At 2:29 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay Wright can recruit, but cannot coach with X's and O's at all. In case you have not noticed, that's what matters. A much better halftime adjustment should have been made. I agree that he is a great speaker, but when it comes to motivational speeches, he's probably useless. He should let Pat Chambers do that for him.

As for Clark and Anderson, somebody needs to light a fire under their asses. Also, Reggie Redding just has no talent at all.
Furthermore, Reynolds cannot be forcing off-balanced and contested shots.

I still believe that Nova will make the tournament, especially if the starting lineup consists of:

Fisher (running the point)

Grant (They must understand when he is hot, and feed him the ball like crazy. Otherwise, we can't afford to have him taking NBA threes and missing them)

Reynolds (He can't be taking 20-25shots every game unless he is on fire)

Pena (They should feed him the ball more often in the post, and let him go to work)

Cunningham (Needs to be tough with bigger opponents)

Lastly, does anybody know when Drummond is coming back? We obviously need him desperately. It's disappointing to see him injured after he was finally playing well.

At 3:55 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you guys should just realize Rutgers is a better team then Villanova and stop blaming Jay. Heck I see them winning the Big East. They were just playing with everyone with that 0-6 record. Now they're playing for real!

At 4:43 PM, January 25, 2008, Blogger Foye's Boy said...

completely embarrassing loss....we cant come out each and every game with poor starts and expect to come back in the 2nd half....shane clark has nowhere to be found at all....we got to put this one behind us, and for once come out on fire and play a full 40 minutes against ND and turn this thing around

At 6:52 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely, COMPLETELY agree with Gregg on the starting 5. Fisher, Grant, Reynolds, Pena, and Cunningham. Our most solid 5 healthy players. Yes it would be small, but why not go zone!? Maybe the zone D would help our terrible help defense behind the 3 point line. Jay Wright can't run the x's and o's that well, so why not just let your starters play more and let them get into a rhythm with each other? Shane, Dwayne, Reggie, and Stokes really don't contribute much. This team has potential to turn it around.

Remember what we did to Syracuse in their building!

At 6:54 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree withn Gregg

At 6:58 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have a reason to disagree? Also, why do so many people hate Pena? He is an athletic and talented player with so much upside and potential.

At 7:39 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHA Villanova lost to Rutgers HAHAHAHAHA. oh that's classic. Go jump off the bandwagon because Nova is overrated. I've been saying it since day one.

At 9:31 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Enrique. I do believe we have a winning record in the best conference in the country, with one of the youngest line-ups in the conference. So we have 11 Big East games left! Keep that in mind, and get back to us when the year is over!

At 11:11 PM, January 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sickened by you bandwagon fans. This team still is young basically a bunch of kids. When they get the chemistry needed they will be a top 4 team in the Big East. They have shown they can hang with the top crop teams by beating Pitt at home, and Cuse in there building. They can still get a 6 or 7th seed in the tournament. There 4-1 vs the top 50 rpi this year as well which is really strong. 11 Big East games to go they can do this if Jay puts the right team on the floor. However if I see Clark start and/or get more then 20 minutes against ND I'm going to throw up in my mouth. He shows nothing I'd rather see Ott Or Fchuisi out there, hell maybe even Colenda. Redding isn;t very good, I think I have a better jumper then he does. Anderson is way more athletic then the both of them but is not very skilled in the offensive department. And Pete how is this a major set back to the program? UNC just lost a similiar game to Maryland who sucks this year. It's one game with a very good team with a great future for next year. I will copy this into the ND thread as well.


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