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17 November 2008

'Cats beat up on Great Danes

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
11/17/2008 02:57:00 AM
Albany 60
Villanova 78
(box score)

#23 Villanova: 1-0 (0-0 BE, 0-0 B5)
Albany: 0-1 (0-0 AE)

Next game: vs. Fordham, 17 Nov. at the Pavilion.

Villanova opened up its regular season with a decisive win over cannon-fodder Albany, but spent less time on cruise control than many expected.

Albany made a few runs to cut into the Wildcats' lead, but the game was never in question.

Villanova racked up 18 assists on 28 field goals, which would be lovely in conference play, but was less impressive considering the competition.

The Wildcats spread the ball around with a balanced attack, and five of the eight players in the rotation scored in double digits.

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

Next up for Villanova on Monday is another early-season cupcake, Fordham. It looks like the Wildcats will not be seriously tested until a potential date at the end of the month with the Rhode Island Rams, who were a questionable "Cameron Call" away from knocking off #8 Duke on Sunday.

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

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 30 min)

    Reynolds is billed as one of the best scorers in the Big East, but it was his game management skills that were on display against Albany. If there is a place for Reynolds in the NBA next year or in 2010, it will be as a point guard, so it would be natural for him to develop that aspect of his game on top of his already polished knack for scoring. Reynolds shot 4-11 from the field and 2-6 from behind the arc to finish with 13, but it was his ridiculous 6 assists to 1 turnover that should really catch your eye. Reynolds also added 2 steals. With Malcolm Grant lost to transfer and Corey Fisher picking up slack for injured Wildcats, Reynolds will be asked to play the point a great deal this season.
    Grade: B+

  • Corey Fisher (S, 30 min)

    With Dwayne Anderson out indefinitely and Malcolm Grant in Miami, the sophomore Fisher will see a major increase in minutes from last year. Supremely talented, Fisher still needs to get his game under control and become more consistent. He played well against Albany, but it was not the dominating performance one would expect from such a talent against players who are less athletically gifted. Then again, a dominating performance was not required. Fisher is at his best running the fast break, and to a slightly lesser extent, putting the ball on the floor. If he can find some consistency with his three-point shot, the Wildcats' ceiling should go way up. Against the Great Danes, Fisher shot 3-4 from the two but 0-2 from the three. He was a perfect 4-4 from the line, and finished with 10 points. He looked good distributing the ball, and passed for 5 assists. His 3 turnovers were a bit troubling, but Fisher more than made up for it with his frisky defense and team-high 4 steals. Fisher's future is bright, especially if he starts stroking it from downtown.
    Grade: B

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 30 min)

    Cunningham, now a senior, is going to be asked to shoulder most of the load in the post for the Wildcats. He looks up to the task. Cunningham shot his usually efficient 6-9 from the field for 13 points, but was a bad 1-3 from the foul line. He led the Wildcats in rebounds with 6.
    Grade: B

  • Antonio Pena (S, 28 min)

    Pena might be Villanova's most crucial wildcard, as his presence in the post alongside Dante Cunningham is basically all the Wildcats have outside of the oft-injured Drummond and the clumsy Frank Tchuisi. Luckily, it looks like Pena has developed into the major talent he was predicted to be. Pena's game is physical and explosive, but he can also handle the ball and make crisp, timely passes. Villanova's rotation this year is basically two big men (Cunningham and Drummond), 2 guards (Reynolds and Fisher), and five (!) swingmen (Pena, Stokes, Redding, Clark, and Anderson), whose natural positions are at the wing. Pena is too talented to split too much time with that latter group, so he will probably be asked to play on the blocks more this season. Granted, the competition in the paint this game wasn't threatening, but it nonetheless looks like Pena is on track to be a weapon in the post on both ends of the floor. Against Albany, Pena shot 5-7 from the field and a disappointing 2-4 from the line to finish with 12 points. He picked up 5 rebounds, and added 2 assists, 2 turnovers, and a block.
    Grade: B+

  • Corey Stokes (S, 26 min)

    It looks like Stokes picked up where he left off last season, with a hot hand. Stokes shot 4-6 from the field and hit 3 three-pointerson 4 attempts, finishing with 13 points. He looked a bit more comfortable on the perimeter and perhaps a tad quicker, but his ballhandling still needs work. Look for Stokes to develop into a deadly scoring threat in Big East play.
    Grade: B

  • Reggie Redding (26 min)

    Redding is often called Villanova's most basketball-intelligent player, and for good reason. He doesn't seem to make a plot of mistakes in his role as a bigger guard, which is good news for Villanova with two swingmen on the injury list. Redding shot 3-4 from inside the arc, but is still looking for his three-point stroke after shooting 1-3 from there. He was perfect from the foul line, grabbed 4 rebounds, passed for 2 assists, and committed 1 turnover.
    Grade: B-

  • Casiem Drummond (17 min)

    Drummond was solid on offense and on the glass in his 17 minutes, but his defensive performance is of great concern. Drummond committed 4 fouls, averaging to a foul every 4 minutes, against an Albany team with little in the way of post threats. With Villanova's reduced depth, especially early in the season, the Wildcats cannot afford for Drummond to get in foul trouble regularly. Drummond shot 1-1 and 2-2 from the line for 4 points while grabbing 5 rebounds
    Grade: C+

  • Frank Tchuisi (11 min)

    It looks like Tchuisi's main value this year will be as a warm body in the paint and as a safe player to commit some fouls. Tchuisi is now a senior with three full years in the Villanova system, but his offensive skills are basically zero. He shot 1-4 from the field -- including a missed dunk and a missed layup -- and 0-1 from the foul line to finish with 2 points in 11 minutes. If Tchuisi is missing easy baskets against Albany, who had no one on the court taller than Tchuisi, how is he going to perform against Big East teams? It looks like he never will. Tchuisi added 3 rebounds, 2 fouls, and 2 turnovers in his brief run.
    Grade: D-

  • Incomplete grades: Russell Wooten (1 min), Jason Colenda (1 min)

  • Did not play: Dwayne Anderson (foot), Shane Clark (knee), Maurice Sutton (CD - RS?)

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