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27 March 2009

'Nova destroys Duke on way to Elite 8

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/27/2009 04:51:00 AM
Villanova 77
Duke 54
(box score)

#11 Villanova: 29-7
#6 Duke: 30-7

Villanova put together another excellent 40 minutes of basketball on Thursday to absolutely dismantle the 2nd-seeded Duke Blue Devils in Boston.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright thoroughly out-foxed the much-celebrated Coach K, whose Blue Devils had no answer for Villanova's high-pressure defense.

The Wildcats advance to the Elite Eight to face the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers, with a Final Four berth on the line.

Villanova-Pitt will tip at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Villanova overcame a slow start out of the locker room on Thursday to score 11 straight points after falling behind 5-0. The Wildcats took a three-point lead into halftime before totally dominating the second period by a margin of 20.

Villanova used its superior athleticism to generate a tremendous pressure defense and an edge on the boards. The Wildcats out-rebounded Duke by a tally of 49-34.

Villanova's manic defense held Duke's Gerald Henderson, a future NBA player, to a dismal 1-14 shooting. Blue Devil forward Jon Scheyer shot nearly as poorly, going 3-18.

On the offensive end, Villanova focused on shooting efficient shots with good looks. Forwards Dwayne Anderson, Dante Cunningham, and Shane Clark followed all misses with reckless abandon, helping the 'Cats pull in 13 offensive rebounds and put in a bunch of follow-up buckets.

Villanova once again played hard and crisp basketball for the entirety of the game, as the Wildcats had done against UCLA. After the game, Jay Wright attributed this consistency to an improving team.

Congratulations to reader "Pena Power" for most closely predicting the final score.

Villanova advances to the regional finals on Saturday for a game against top-seeded Pittsburgh. The winner of that game, of course, earns a trip to Detroit and the Final Four.

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

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 33 min)

    Cunningham was the best post player in the game by far, and luckily for the Wildcats he asserted himself as such. Dante shot a decent 5-13 from the field and a good 4-6 from the foul line to score 14 points. He led the 'Cats in rebounds, with 11, and blocked 1 shot. He committed just 1 turnover, which is excellent. He had 1 steal that led to a very nice fast break dunk.
    Grade: A-

  • Reggie Redding (S, 32 min)

    Player of the game -- and it's not even close. Redding was a force on defense. His help defense was so perfect, I took to watching him on every possession, just to appreciate how well he moved within the flow of the pressure D. He played efficiently on offense, shooting 4-7 to score 11 points. He added a helpful 9 rebounds, and led the team in assists with 4. He blocked 2 shots, stole 1 ball, and committed 2 turnovers. All-around outstanding play, but truly special on defense. Villanova will need a similar effort from Redding on Saturday to get past Pitt.
    Grade: A

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 32 min)

    Reynolds, plagued by minor wrist pain, finally got going a bit in the scoring department. Though he shot a mediocre 5-15, he was a perfect 4-4 from the line, and hit 2 of his 6 threes to lead the team with 16 points. Reynolds added 3 boards, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 turnovers, and 2 key steals. He made good decisions with the ball, and played well on defense. His 6 three-point attempts were all good shots, and 2 more of them could have easily fell. Villanova will need Reynolds to score against Pitt, especially since Blair might limit the Wildcats' interior offense.
    Grade: B+

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 26 min)

    Anderson plays so hard and with so much passion. He always seems to be in the right spot for a tip, a follow, a lay-up, or a fast-break. Against Duke, he shot an efficient 4-8 from the field despite missing badly on his 2 three-point attempts. He grabbed 7 rebounds, passed for 2 assists, and turned the ball over just once. Anderson has developed from a practice player for Villanova into a real asset, an athletic weapon that can hardly be defended against. Along with Fisher, Anderson has become my favorite Wildcat to watch play.
    Grade: A-

  • Corey Fisher (24 min)

    Fisher managed to have a very positive impact on this game despite struggling a bit offensively. He shot a bad 1-6, including 0-3 from the three, but most of those were very good shots. He was 4-6 from the foul line. He added 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and handled the ball very well, committing just 2 turnovers. (No, I am not going to count that low-class ball-grab by Nolan Smith as the last 3 seconds ticked off the clock as a turnover.) Fisher's one basket came on a beautiful dribble drive with a nice pump fake at the end. Villanova is going to need Fisher to shoot better next time in Boston, but Fisher played well today despite the poor shooting percentage. His defense was so good I was surprised to see he only had 1 steal -- he likely caused several more turnovers with his pesky pressure.
    Grade: B-

  • Shane Clark (S, 22 min)

    Clark had some great moves in this game. He shot 3-5 to score 7 points. Clark grabbed 5 boards and notched 1 brilliant assist on a fantastic interior pass. The box score credits him with 0 turnovers, but he did actually make a turnover when a perfect Scottie Reynolds pass sailed through his hands. This has been a regular occurrence this year -- perhaps Villanova can spend a little more time on the passing drills with Clark before Saturday? Still, a very solid game from Clark.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Stokes (21 min)

    Stokes looked good handling the ball today, despite the 3 listed turnovers. He shot 2-7 from the field and 1-4 from the three. He was perfect from the line at 2-2. He pulled in 4 rebounds, and added an assist and a block. Not the most explosive game from Stokes, but he played 21 solid minutes, including good defense. Look for Stokes to heat it up from the three at the next opportunity. A very unscientific "pattern" would seem to indicate that Stokes shoots much better the second game in an arena.
    Grade: B-

  • Antonio Pena (8 min)

    Pena was only in for 8 minutes but played very well. He shot 1-1 on a very nice dunk, and was a perfect 2-2 from the foul line as well. He added 3 rebounds in his limited time, and committed no turnovers and no fouls. Can't ask for much more than that in 8 minutes.
    Grade: B+

  • Incomplete grades: Frank Tchuisi (1 min), Jason Colenda (1 min).

  • Did not play: Maurice Sutton (RS), Russell Wooten (CD).

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At 4:57 AM, March 27, 2009, Blogger Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

Gotta give credit where credit is due to Jay. Grades will be posted as soon as I write them.

At 5:44 AM, March 27, 2009, Blogger Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

ha, fark it. I stayed up. and grades are up. don't ever say i'm not dedicated, LGN hataz!

At 7:53 AM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey A hole how was the coaching? Jay is pretty good!

At 8:26 AM, March 27, 2009, Blogger Eric said...

Nicely done. I hope you have the day off!

At 10:44 AM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give Frank some love!! 2 FG's to G-Henderson's 1! Haha, nice work with the grades today, pretty solid.

At 11:12 AM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eff Gerald Henderson, Eff Tyreke Evans!


At 11:17 AM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I am in the mood to cut Pete some slack today, despite the egregious open practice post. But I will say that, not to bash Pete, but the "Wright doesn't prepare his teams properly" charge is IMO the opposite of the truth. You don't get to be 10-4 in the NCAA tournement without preparing your team pretty darn well. And you don't beat a good Duke team by over 20 points without being much better than average at game preparation.

I think we can make a distinction here. Running specific plays may not be Wright's strong point - hence his rep as a mediocre X and O coach - but he excels at an overall game plan, making in game adjustments, and preparing his players pychologically.

At 12:48 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm watching this game, the UCLA game, and the last 10 minutes or so of the American game, and I am seeing a very new Villanova team on the floor. Same guys, same style, but the intensity and defensive prowess of our team has SUBSTANTIALLY increased the last 2 and a half games or so. This is in contrast to some other games this season where we have gone ahead and let the other team back in the game (see our first game against Prov.).

I honestly think that if we continue to play this hard-nosed, scrappy defensively minded game for 40 minutes the rest of the way, there is no team in this tournament we can't beat. We look scary good right now, and I hope it continues on Saturday. GO CATS!

At 1:36 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

INTENSITY is the key word. We are contesting every dribble on every possession, and scrapping on the offensive end to get it done no matter what. I agree with #8 this team is capable of winning it all, and I'd be willing to bet that after the smackdowns we've been handing out no one else in this tourney wants to face us.

At 2:00 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys, it's a long season. That's why jumping down the coach's throat for things on a game to game basis is just ignorant. These are college kids who have varying levels of intensity AND varying levels of attention to what the coach says throughout the year.

As a previous person wrote, you don't achieve this level of success by accident. Jay has forgotten more about basketball than any of us know.

And I'm sure Pete had to be joking with that post criticizing Jay for talking with the announcers. It was an open-practice for the media. Was he supposed to run his plays for the world to see? If only we had Buzz Williams as our coach for the Pitt game...

At 2:06 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good recap. Appreciate the late night dedication. Tchuisi deserved an A though. No explanation but just the grade.

Another random note...that was the worst beat down a #2 seed has ever received in the Sweet 16. Suck it Coach K and your "national program".

At 2:23 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing, in response to the last comment box Pete. Pitt is giving 2.5 right now. Somewhat surprising considering Nova has been putting on a clinic while Pitt has been eking out their victories. Nova also beat Pitt in their one head to head this year (which we obviously all know).

Whatever, I'll happily continue riding Nova as the underdog. I'm putting the cost of a flight to Detroit on the game.

At 3:30 PM, March 27, 2009, Blogger pete said...


2.5 seems like a lot of points given the momentum of each team, especially Nova. I really like Nova + 2.5 and that's not just me being a homer.

At 4:00 PM, March 27, 2009, Blogger pete said...

Already down to 2

At 4:02 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how good this team would be with a real coach like Lapas at the helm. He always seemed to overachieve in the NCAA

At 4:07 PM, March 27, 2009, Blogger pete said...


we can only wonder!

At 4:09 PM, March 27, 2009, Blogger pete said...

Jay Wright live on WFAN 660 NY AM right now: http://tinyurl.com/cvfalj

At 4:10 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Lappas, I bet they would be 37-0. Yeah, I know they have only played 36 games, but Lappas would have found a way to win an extra game.

At 6:25 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I can play devil's advocate here... what college coach does have great X and O's? Everything is system oriented, who really gets applauded for running great plays? I'm serious here.

At 8:19 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Jay's Personal Chef said...

There are very few coaches who even know what X's and O's are. The ones who may qualify for being good in that department are normally coaching teams not loaded in talent. They create those X's and O's for offense because without them the group of small white guys would never get a shot off unless they confused the other team every once and awhile with an obscene amount of back door cuts.

In my opinion, applying a strict offensive plan to a team with a bunch of talented scorers is more detrimental than anything, a la Georgetown this year. John Thompson the 12th ran a Princeton offense for a bunch of talented athletic guys keeping there full potential in check. Absolutely horrendous job.

Defense is the only place a group of top talent needs curbing when coming into college. I would say Jay has a more direct involvement in his teams performance than most because of his defensive focus and coaching on that end. I really do think Jay is a great coach and often wonder how people say otherwise. He is not perfect, but I watch a lot of CBB and I really do not see many impressive coaching performances out there. I like Huggins sometimes, the ACC guys (K and Williams) do absolutely nothing they just have obscene amounts of talent. Same goes for the 2 bigs in the Big 12 (Barnes and Self), although Self has been getting better (see championship and this season).

Bottom line, Jay is the man no matter what happens tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, anyone looking for a pregame spot should go online and get a ticket for Hurricane O'Reily's. That is in Boston by the way.

At 10:40 PM, March 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to read this blog more, but after hearing you call for Steve Lappas back over Jay Wright I just don't think I can take it seriously anymore. I agree Jay is a bit lacking when it comes to game managing, but you were clearly either not watching the games or drunk when Steve Lappas was coaching.


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