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18 November 2008

'Nova annihilates Fordham

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
11/18/2008 03:16:00 AM
Fordham 68
Villanova 107
(box score)

#23 Villanova: 2-0 (0-0 BE, 0-0 B5)
Fordham: 0-2 (0-0 A10)

[Highlight reel at end of post]

Next game: vs. Niagara, 19 Nov. at the Pavilion.

The Wildcats cruised to an easy victory tonight against the winless Fordham Rams, putting up 107 points on Fordham's porous defenses.

Fordham had no answer to the inside prowess of Dante Cunningham, who notched a career-high 31 points. Villanova used its superior size and speed to find easy shots, converting 35 field goals on 60 attempts. Over 65 percent of Villanova's baskets resulted from assists, which is an excellent ratio. The Wildcats also took care of the ball and committed just 9 turnovers.

Villanova's defense seemed to improve in the second half, when the Wildcats held Fordham to 11-29 shooting and 30 points.

On the sour side, Villanova allowed Fordham an unacceptable 65 shots, and forced just 11 turnovers from the overmatched Rams. The Wildcats also revealed a potentially fatal flaw in their team depth -- with Fisher and Reynolds both off the floor, the team has no truly competent ballhandlers to break a press or even run an offense.

Reggie Redding is the emergency third point guard, but he looked awkward against the juvenile Fordham press. One does not have to wonder how the Wildcats will stand up to a full-blast press from Louisville or Marquette this year if Fisher or Reynolds become unavailable -- it would be a disaster.

And thus the folly of losing Bilal Benn and Malcolm Grant -- both good ballhandlers -- to transfer in consecutive years. Absent Corey Fisher and Scottie Reynolds, the Wildcats simply have no point guards left. Might Villanova be the only top-25 team with just two ballhandlers on the entire roster? I think so. And if one of those two guards gets hurt, the Wildcats won't be ranked for long.

On an injury note, forward Shane Clark was cleared to play and ran 16 minutes tonight, just 11 days after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Center Casiem Drummond was out with foot pain, but Jay Wright said in his postgame remarks that Drummond would be ready for Wednesday's game.

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

Next up for Villanova is the return of former Wildcat Bilal Benn and his Niagara Purple Eagles in the Philly Hoop Group Classic opener, Wednesday night at the Pavilion.

On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis, plus a special embedded highlight reel from Youtube!

  • Corey Stokes (S, 31 min)

    Stokes could barely miss tonight. The Rams were allowing him open looks, and he made the most of them. Stokes was 3-3 from behind the arc, 4-6 from the field, and 6-6 from the line to score 17 points. He grabbed 8 rebounds and added 2 assists, a steal, and 1 turnover. The only downside for Stokes tonight is it still looks like he is having trouble putting the ball on the floor. Stokes's shooting, however, finally appears to be living up to its billing, and he may well lead the Wildcats in scoring on the season.
    Grade: A-

  • Corey Fisher (S, 30 min)

    Fisher's speed, handle, and passing have become essential to the Wildcats' attack. Splitting the point with Reynolds, Fisher tonight made good decisions with the ball and was effective on both ends of the court. He dished out 4 assists, and, more important, committed just 1 turnover. He shot better tonight from long range, draining 2-4 threes, and shot 4-10 from the field. Fisher was a good 7-8 from the foul line, impressive there in both his accuracy and his frequency getting to the stripe. Fisher added 2 steals to a solid defensive effort.
    Grade: B+

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 29 min)

    Cunningham exploded for a career-high 31 points on 11-17 shooting from the field. Cunningham also reached the free-throw line 12 times, converting 9. Fordham could do nothing to stop Cunningham inside. Though he won't find conference play nearly as easy, Cunningham's performance tonight was an important step in establishing the Wildcats' inside game. Cunningham and Pena played well together on the blocks, forging an inside chemistry that has been lacking at Villanova for years. Cunningham also led the team in rebounds, with 11.
    Grade: A

  • Antonio Pena (S, 24 min)

    Pena is quickly becoming one of my favorite players. He put in an efficient performance tonight, scoring 10 points on 4-5 shooting. He looked great moving up and down the post, and connected with Cunningham several times for easy looks. He grabbed 6 rebounds and passed for 3 assists. Pena also ran the floor well; it's become clear that fast breaks are a key component of his game. Pena's inside-out style suits the Wildcats' free-flowing system well. Though he has the tendency to disappear for stretches, Pena's development is a real bright spot for the 'Cats.
    Grade: B+

  • Reggie Redding (23 min)

    Redding was pressed into point-guard duties tonight after Reynolds sat with early foul trouble. I suspect Jay Wright also sat Fisher during that stretch to see what the team could do without either of its point guards. Redding's handling of the point was passable but not pretty. But if it was passable against Fordham, it probably would be a nightmare against Rick Pitino. Still, you can't blame Redding for the Wildcats' lack of ballhandling depth. Redding played well overall tonight, shining as the undisputed leader late in the game with the Wildcat starters out. He shot 4-5 from the field and 1-2 from the three to score 9 points. He passed for 4 assists and committed just 1 turnover. He added 4 rebounds but did not get a steal. Pressure defense is something for Redding to work on as the season progresses. All in all it is a good thing the Wildcats have Redding to bail them out with ballhandling, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.
    Grade: B

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 22 min)

    Reynolds picked up a pair of questionable fouls early, and those fouls combined with the blowout limited him to an uncharacteristically low 22 minutes. Reynolds struggled a bit scoring-wise, shooting just 3-9 from the field and 1-4 from the three. I'm not particularly worried, however, as Reynolds has proven beyond all doubt he is an excellent scorer and shooter. Where Scottie really shined tonight was in distribution. Reynolds racked up 7 assists in basically half a game, while committing just 1 turnover. Perhaps his ratio will go down a bit against serious competition, but after two games it is clear that Scottie is taking great care of the ball and finding perfect spots to dish it off. Reynolds also added 2 steals in a fine defensive effort, ticky-tack fouls notwithstanding.
    Grade: A-

  • Shane Clark (16 min)

    It was good to see Clark out there and injury-free just 11 days after knee surgery. Clark played well, shooting 3-5 from the field and 2-2 from the line to score 8. Clark has missed a lot of practice, so it was good for him to get extended playing time in the blowout. We'll see how his knee holds up during the rest of Villanova's brutal November schedule.
    Grade: C+

  • Frank Tchuisi (14 min)

    Tchuisi played better tonight, converting on his two uncontested shots. His free-throw form looked awful, however, which is something to work on at practice. Tchuisi only managed to collect one rebound despite playing 14 minutes at center against an undersized Fordham team. He committed 2 fouls but did not turn the ball over.
    Grade: D

  • Jason Colenda (6 min)

    Colenda, the walk-on guard, has to deal with deafening applause every time he touches the ball, as the student section apparently wishes for him to put it up any time he is across halfcourt. I watched Colenda closely tonight during his 6 minutes while he split the point with Redding, because it is plausible that due to a combination of fouls or injury, the Wildcats at some point this season may have to rely on Colenda to bring the ball up the court. My conclusion is that Colenda can indeed dribble and make passes, but he panics way too much in the face of defensive pressure. Though Colenda may be quicker and smaller than Redding, and thus less prone to having his pocket picked, it is a stark contrast to watch Redding coolly step back from an overzealous defender, while Colenda suddenly treats the ball as a hot potato in the same situation. The good news is that it's a problem that is easy to correct if Colenda simply keeps his dribble going and takes a deep breath.
    Grade: C-

  • Russell Wooten (5 min)

    We didn't get to see much out of Wooten in his 5 minutes tonight. He did not attempt a shot, and looked very uncomfortable with the ball on the offensive side of the court. Like Colenda, he seems to have a tendency to panic with the ball when defended. Wooten runs the floor well enough and did not make too many major mistakes on defense.
    Grade: C-

  • Did not play: Dwayne Anderson (foot), Casiem Drummond (foot), Maurice Sutton (CD - RS?)

Highlights from Youtube:

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At 10:05 AM, November 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a malcolm grant mention by the second game of the season....why am I not surprised

At 11:02 AM, November 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in UR blogpost... alweddy gettin menshuned!!!1!

At 1:34 PM, November 18, 2008, Blogger pete said...

I also mentioned Bilal Benn ... TWICE!

At 1:59 PM, November 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

only two competent ball handlers from GUARD U--irony

At 2:03 PM, November 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

tyreke evans looks natural in that memphis jers and i guarantee malcolm grant will do the same for the U.

how bout shane's uncanny woleverine-esque ability to heal. impressive..if only he could dribble a basketball

At 2:03 PM, November 18, 2008, Blogger Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

Yeah, right now it's more like "lanky swingman U" -- Can't wait for the cavalry (Wayns and hopefully Cheek) to arrive next year.

At 2:04 PM, November 18, 2008, Blogger Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

Evans looks amazing at Memphis. He has a shot to be first-team All American and one of the best players in the country. It's a shame we came in second place for him -- with Evans this year we would have been a Final Four contender.

At 12:10 AM, November 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop crying the blues pete about tyreke and malcolm, they are not on the team so quit talking about them....how do you make love to malcolm grant now when he is all the way down in miami??!

At 12:15 AM, November 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, complain all you want about Tyreke, but playing the likes of Fairfield and UMass can make water taste like wine. There is no doubting his talent, but I feel like Team Tyreke would be nothing but a distraction all year. Better off he is with weasels like Calipari and Worldwide Wes down in Memphis

At 8:39 AM, November 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I <3 Malcolm Grant!! (freedom of speech prevails)

At 11:06 AM, November 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous post by anonymous, Tyreke is obviously a one and done player who could have certainly threatened the team chemistry we have from returning so many players. Granted, he's extremely talented and would have really helped our team score points, but it's not all bad that we didn't get him.

At 11:14 AM, November 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey guys, studying abroad in england. any backdoor links for tonights game

At 1:14 PM, November 19, 2008, Blogger pete said...

You guys are such jokers... if we had Tyreke right now, no way any of you would be worried about "team chemistry." We'd be talking about a national championship. Talk about sour grapes! You'd be surprised what a final four does for "team chemistry,"

As for the link to watch tonight's game, I am not sure yet... I'll try to find one.

At 2:09 PM, November 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm starting to believe the reason this blog is so popular is because of Pete's absolute retarded comments.

At 2:40 PM, November 19, 2008, Blogger Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

Hey, I'll take it.

At 5:59 PM, November 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats with all your male obsessions peter?!


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