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21 February 2008

'Nova cruises past WVU

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
2/21/2008 01:41:00 AM

Villanova 78
West Virginia 56
(box score)

West Virginia: 18-8 (7-6 BE)
Villanova: 16-9 (6-7 BE, 3-1 B5)

Next game: vs. Connecticut, 02/23 at the Wachovia Center.

Villanova used a stifling defense paired with efficient shooting to blow out the West Virginia Mountaineers tonight in the Pavilion.

It was the second straight win for the Wildcats, who have won three of their last four contests after a disastrous five-game losing streak.

The win puts Villanova "on the bubble of the bubble of the bubble," before the Wildcats face three consecutive top-25 teams in Connecticut, Marquette, and Louisville.

Win two of those three, and take care of business against USF, and all of a sudden the Wildcats are on the bubble of the bubble.

One or two wins in Madison Square Garden would then place Villanova on the good side of the final bubble, the one for the NCAA Tournament.

Enough talk about bubbles, though. We are getting ahead of ourselves.

Villanova played an excellent game tonight at the Pavilion, and used season-best performances from Corey Stokes and Dwayne Anderson to put away the Mountaineers.

The Wildcat defense allowed the Mountaineers just a 35.6 percent shooting performance. West Virginia shot an atrocious 2-20 from the three, but several of those were missed open looks. If the Mountaineers could have drained those shots, the game would have been closer.

For more thoughts on the game, see the transcript of the live blog.

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

Next up for the Wildcats is arguably the biggest game of the year, a home battle at the Wachovia Center against the UConn Huskies. Connecticut, winners of 10 straight, is the hottest teams in the Big East.

A win for the 13th-ranked Huskies would help them crack the top 10; a victory for Villanova would be the best entry on any NCAA resume the Wildcats would put forward next month.

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

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 31 min)

    Anderson lit it up tonight in the first half. Dwayne notched the best scoring game of the season, sinking 5 of 7 three pointers to score 17 points, all in the first period. Anderson also played an excellent defensive game, coming up with a team-high 4 steals. He grabbed 3 rebounds, and had 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 turnover. Anderson showed excellent hustle, and proved he could knock down open shots. He still seems to have some difficulty creating shots for himself, but if Villanova can get this kind of performance from Anderson consistently, the future looks bright.
    Grade: A-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 22 min)

    Cunningham didn't dominate the paint, but he held his own. Dante shot an excellent 4-6 from the field to score 8 points, but he only managed to pick up 3 rebounds. He had 2 big blocks, 1 steal, and 1 turnover. It was a good game for Cunningham, but his rebounding could improve.
    Grade: B-

  • Antonio Pena (S, 26 min)

    Pena just missed the double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing a team-high 9 boards. He shot well, 3-5 from the field, and was a perfect 4-4 from the foul line. Pena dished out 3 assists, and had 1 turnover, block, and steal each. Pena's rebounding performance was excellent, and his inside presence seems to grow each game.
    Grade: B+

  • Corey Fisher (S, 26 min)

    Fisher looked like a great point guard tonight despite shooting just 2-8 from the field. Fisher missed all 3 of his three point attempts, but was a perfect 5-5 from the stripe to finish with 9 points. He led the team in assists, with 6, and handled the ball reasonably well, turning the ball over 2 times. He still seems to have some problems with shot selection, and he is definitely better running in transition or taking the ball on breakdowns than on set plays, but Fisher is developing into a tough Big East point guard.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Stokes (21 min)

    Stokes followed up a good performance against the Red Storm with another good game tonight. He scored a career-high 16 points on 5-12 shooting, including 3-8 from the three. Stokes has definitely improved his three-point shot recently in the season. Corey added 5 rebounds from the wing-guard position, and had 1 assist and no turnovers.
    Grade: B+

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 18 min)

    Reynolds struggled with early foul trouble and was held scoreless before heating up for 9 points in the second period. Reynolds only took 4 shots, making 2 of them, both three pointers. He shot well from the free-throw line, going 3-4. He had 1 turnover and did not notch a rebound, steal, or assist. It was definitely a below-average game for Reynolds, but it was good to see him get going in the second half. Reynolds will need to do more than this to defeat the surging UConn Huskies on Saturday; it's a good thing he dropped 40 on them the last times the two teams met, a year ago in Connecticut.
    Grade: C-

  • Malcolm Grant (14 min)

    Despite baseless rumors to the contrary on the Interwebs, Malcolm Grant was dressed and ready to play for the Wildcats. While the announcers spewed the latest company line about Grant being relegated to the bench for size considerations, avid followers of the program know there has to be more to the story, though we may never find out exactly what. Grant did not play altogether well in his 14 minutes. He shot 0-2 from the field, and had 2 turnovers. The good news is that he looked good handling the ball otherwise, dishing out 2 nice assists. I'd like to see Grant get a more extended run so he can get into a scoring groove; maybe Connecticut will be his break-out game like it was for Reynolds last year.
    Grade: D+

  • Shane Clark (14 min)

    Clark didn't look spectacular, but played one of his better games recently. The announcers mentioned that he'd been tested for mononucleosis in an effort to explain his mysterious fatigue. Clark did look less lethargic in the first half, and his offensive performance was a tad better than his past few debacles. Clark scored 4 points on 1-3 shooting, and dished out a respectable pair of assists. He also was able to get his hands on 3 rebounds. That said, he looked weak with the ball, and still cannot handle the ball with any efficiency. Clark committed 1 official turnover, but his 2 missed shots were so weak they were practically turnovers themselves. Clark's defense looked a step slow, as well. Still, his 14 minutes were a small step forward for the struggling junior captain, and hopefully he can continue to make progress.
    Grade: C-

  • Reggie Redding (13 min)

    Redding managed 1 steal, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 missed shot, and 2 turnovers in a practically invisible run of 13 minutes. His defense was decent, however, and Redding is a noticeably better defender than many of Villanova's scoring guards. One just wishes that Redding could be a factor on offense, at least once.
    Grade: D+

  • Casiem Drummond (10 min)

    Drummond had two big buckets on perfect 2-2 shooting, but was just 1-3 from the foul line. He only was able to grab 1 rebound in his 10 minutes. He also committed 2 turnovers. Drummond's ankle was said to be hurting, so you have to take this performance with a grain of salt/
    Grade: D+

  • Incomplete grades: Jason Colenda (3 min), Frank Tchuisi (2 min)

  • Did not play: None.

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At 8:36 AM, February 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I think Villanova is still a very long shot for the NCAA tournament, I think they have less work to do to make it than you seem to think. Winning 2 of the next 3 is unlikely, but if they do that, and then "take care of business" in their last 2 regular season games, I think they are in, regardless of how they do in the conference tourney. 20-10 and 10-8 in the conference would be enough, especially given that they would have finished 7-2, including the controversial loss at Georgetown.

At 9:11 AM, February 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For better or worse, the home games against UConn & Marquette are at the Wachovia center, not Pavilion. It's going to take a big effort from the crowd to keep the energy level high in that building, I'd like to see Nova push the tempo, force turnovers, and frustrate the other teams.... always a lot more likely whenever the noise levels are high.

At 9:31 AM, February 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They have to consider playing less games at Wachovia. It is ridiculous and it is not a home court advantage. I know it is money but give me a break. We are going to be lucky to split the next two games in the Wachovia center, when we would have had a real chance if they were both in the Pavilion.

At 9:41 AM, February 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with the first comment. Although there are a lot of teams on the bubble, and winning two of the 3 big games remaining would be huge, remember that we beat NOBODY out of conference and so far nobody away from home. I think we need all 3 of the big games or 2/3 and at least 2 wins in the BE tourney. The Lousiville game I think is most important, because it would give us a good win away from home, which we don't have right now and goes along way in the eyes of the selection commitee. Either way, I like that we are coming on at the right time and hope we can keep it up.

At 9:50 AM, February 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nova is on the bubble of the NIT. You guys stink on ice this year.

At 4:10 PM, February 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nit commish i dont know what you are watching but if nova continues to play the way they have been playing recently, they will be directly on the ncaa torney bubble. Just bc they lost 5 straight doesnt mean the season is over. And a win over uconn saturday isnt that unrealistic. Uconn has won 10 straight, they are good, but they arent an elite team, yet. Its hard to continuously win, especially in the big east, so im feeling a nova win on sat.

At 4:39 PM, February 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Many people are right. I am attending the uconn vs nova game on sat. i believe we can win both if nova students come on saturday and we have a semi good show up against marquette. If we win sat. we will have so much confidence going into marquette. I believe thats the key word. Confidence..it worked for dwayne anderson last night

At 5:12 PM, February 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Playing at Wachovia Center was a definite homecourt advantage in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 because the team was ranked, there was a lot of hype in the area about the team and all the games were sold out. When we had all of those bandwagon fans the Wachovia center was rocking and a real home court advantage, so it's definitely possible.

We need to convert those bandwagon fans into true fans during mediocre years like this one, or else get everyone that does go to the games to get on their feet more often and make a lot of noise.

At 2:25 AM, February 23, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Play me Jay!


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