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21 April 2009

Reynolds declares for NBA draft

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/21/2009 01:51:00 PM
Scottie Reynolds will enter his name to this year's NBA draft, according to a press release from Villanova University.

Reynolds, a junior guard and arguably the Wildcats' most valuable player, does not plan to hire an agent, and thus his departure from the team is not yet certain.

Reynolds will be able to attend draft workouts and gauge where he might be selected if he decides to remain in the NBA draft, which will be held in New York on June 25.

"Scottie and I have decided that it would be smart for him to experience NBA workouts at this time," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright.

Wright also said that Reynolds will complete all his spring semester classes to ensure NCAA compliance if Reynolds decides to return to Villanova for his senior year.

If Reynolds remains in the draft, Villanova will lose four starters from its 2009 Final Four team: Reynolds, Dante Cunningham, Dwayne Anderson, and Shane Clark.

According to NBADraft.net, Dante Cunningham is expected to be selected in the early second round of the draft, which usually means a player will be fighting for a spot on the team roster.

NBADraft.nets's mock draft has not been updated after Reynolds's announcement, but it seems likely that Reynolds, if he is drafted, would fall somewhere after Cunningham.

Villanova returns point guard Corey Fisher and shooting guards Reggie Redding and Corey Stokes for next season. In the frontcourt, forward Antonio will be back. Joining the Wildcats will be four freshmen: point guard Maalik Wayns, shooting guard Dom Cheek, small forward Isaiah Armwood, and power forward Mouph Yarou. Duke transfer Taylor King, another small forward, also joins the team after sitting out one year, as does redshirt freshman forward Maurice Sutton.

Personally, I expect Reynolds to be back for his senior season. I do not see him going anywhere near the first-round and its guaranteed salaries.

Whether or not Reynolds returns will have a major impact on the Wildcats' pre-season and early-year rankings; though a Reynolds departure would ease some of the logjam in the backcourt for the younger players.

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05 April 2009

UNC outclasses Villanova

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/05/2009 01:34:00 AM
North Carolina was simply the better team tonight.

The Tarheels won easily, putting away the Wildcats by a score of 83-69

Villanova, which trailed by nine at the half, was able to cut the lead down to five early in the second period. Carolina, however, responded instantly, with a quick 5-0 mini-run to put the lead back to double digits.

After that, the Tarheels never looked back.

If North Carolina is able to defeat Michigan St. on Monday -- and UNC is the tremendous favorite to do so -- Villanova will have lost to the eventual national champion in four out of the last five tournaments:
  • 2005: North Carolina
  • 2006: Florida
  • 2008: Kansas
  • 2009: North Carolina (possible champion)
Let's Go Nova's full recap and game grades will be available later.

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04 April 2009

Villanova faces UNC in Final Four

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/04/2009 03:41:00 AM
#11 Villanova (30-7) vs. #2 North Carolina (32-4)
8:47 p.m., 4 April 2009 at Ford Field.


Line: UNC -7.5

Game day has arrived.

One week ago, Scottie Reynolds secured his place in history with a buzzer-beater to defeat Pittsburgh and send Villanova to the Final Four.

It's been a fun week, looking forward to this game, Villanova's first Final Four since the 1985 championship season.

North Carolina. In the Final Four. If there were polls this week, the Tarheels would surely be ranked number one in the nation. Villanova would be in the top five.

It does not get bigger than this.

We already talked about the history between these two teams from 2005.

We know Vegas likes Carolina by 7.5 points, and KenPom predicts a 4-point margin, with a 66 percent chance of victory for UNC.

We've listed the keys to the game, what Villanova needs to do to pull off the upset.

All that's left to do is predict the final score.

Check out the other Villanova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then try to predict the game's final score in the comment thread below.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of UConn and Michigan St. in the national championship game on Monday. Holy crap.

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03 April 2009

How can Villanova win?

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/03/2009 03:31:00 AM

Yesterday, the Rush the Court college basketball blog asked me to contribute a guest post to its site on how Villanova could win on Saturday.

Make no mistake about it: Villanova is the underdog tomorrow. North Carolina is favored by 7.5 points in Vegas and by 4 points by KenPom (with a 66 percent chance of victory).

More intuitively, common sense tells us the Tarheels are the superior team. North Carolina features five likely future first-round draft picks: Ed Davis, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Ellington, and Ty Lawson will all cash big NBA paychecks.

Villanova might sneak Dante Cunningham into this year's second round, but that's pretty much it in terms of NBA prospects as of right now. (Corey Fisher, Scottie Reynolds, and Corey Stokes are also plausible NBA candidates, but are not quite there yet.)

The Tarheels have lost just four games this season, compared to seven for Villanova. While the Wildcats squeaked by Pittsburgh last weekend in one of the all-time great NCAA tournament games, North Carolina blew out Blake Griffin and Oklahoma, with a 12-point margin of victory in a game that was not even that close.

Carolina has not really been challenged in the tournament so far, winning four blow-outs. Villanova trailed American by double digits in the second half before coming up with the win. The 'Cats also played Pittsburgh to a virtual draw for 39 minutes and 55 seconds before Scottie Reynolds entered the pantheon of great NCAA tournament buzzer-beaters to win the game.

Villanova was able to blow out both UCLA and Duke, which is a good sign.

North Carolina also will enjoy a tremendous coaching edge. I don't care how much you like Jay Wright; Roy Williams is one of the all-time greats. I don't think there can be much debate about that.

Positives for Villanova include a rapid, intense improvement in quality of play late in the season, a versatile bunch of players who can multi-task on the court, a superior half-court defense, and a likely favorable crowd in Detroit, especially if MSU wins the opener.

Conventional wisdom also says that the Wildcats play "tougher" than the 'Heels, but I am not so sure toughness matters so much when your opponent has a lineup full of NBA players. (I do think it matters some.) We shall see.

So, in the face of these long odds, how can Villanova actually win the game?

Though the Wildcats probably won't have to play the much-vaunted "perfect game" like their predecessors did in 1985 to beat Georgetown, it's clear that this game will require an effort well above-average from Villanova.

If both teams bring their "A" games, Carolina wins. But if Villanova can play to its strengths while taking advantage of Tarheel missteps, it could be the Wildcats playing on Monday night for a spot in history.

"READ MORE" below for the keys to the game, as I see them.

  • Convert on open threes. Allowing uncontested three-pointers might be Carolina's Achilles' (Tar)heel. UNC let Oklahoma take several wide-open shots behind the arc, but the Sooners could not put them in. Hitting those long shots will be an absolute prerequisite for any Wildcat win on Saturday. Fortunately, Villanova has the firepower to take advantage of this. Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes are all excellent three-point shooters; Dwayne Anderson and even Shane Clark can put them in if they get going. Though Reynolds and Fisher have struggled from long-range in the tournament so far, perhaps their 2008 experience at Ford Field's "arena" will allow them to heat up quickly.
  • Win the battle on the glass. This isn't just a cliche. Of course, it's always important to grab rebounds in any game, but it's especially crucial on Saturday. Rebounding is one of the few areas where Villanova might be equally talented as the Tarheels, so the Wildcats need to create an advantage there. Wayne Ellington may be a better scorer than Reggie Redding by orders of magnitude, but there's nothing to suggest he is a better rebounder. Winning the rebounding battle will also give the Wildcats' less efficient scorers more chances to put points on the board, and limit UNC's offensive opportunities. Villanova does tend to play tough, smart, efficient basketball, whereas UNC relies on more of a shock-and-awe attack, overwhelming their opponents with points. Villanova definitely wants this game to be a battle of attrition, not a shootout, and rebounding is the first step to controlling the game's tempo and style.
  • Limit Wayne Ellington. Ellington's play may be the key to Carolina's margin of victory or defeat. He is the most dangerous third scoring option in the nation. Oftentimes when teams concern themselves with limiting Ty Lawson's penetration and Tyler Hansbrough's play in the post, Ellington burns them on the perimeter. Villanova is full of athletic big guards who can stay with Ellington should he try to drive to the basket; Reggie Redding, Corey Stokes, and Dwayne Anderson should all be up for the task. Where Ellington will be most dangerous is spotting up for three-pointers, whether in transition, off screens, or off a Lawson drive. It's the latter case about which I am most concerned. The temptation will be great for Nova's wing defenders to collapse in on Lawson as he progresses to the basket, and in many cases they will need to. But the one player they simply cannot leave open behind the arc is Ellington.
  • Hope Lawson is a step slow. Villanova has a lot of trouble with speedy point guards. The Wildcats have lost this year to Texas (AJ Abrams), UConn (AJ Price), Marquette (Dominic James), and Georgetown (Chris Wright). Even in their two wins over Syracuse, Jonny Flynn gave the Wildcats fits from the perimeter. Lawson, at his best, is faster and better than any of the guards mentioned here. Fortunately for Villanova, Lawson is recovering from a toe injury, and might not be as speedy as usual. Though he is the player of the tournament so far, Lawson has been getting it done with shooting and passing rather than on his trademark explosions to the rim. Villanova has the personnel to deal with the former two attacks, but has lots of trouble with the latter. If Lawson is not at 100 percent of his speed, the chances for a Villanova win increase dramatically.
  • Limit turnovers. This one is obvious. Carolina loves to run. The Tarheels have the horses to do it. No one can stop UNC in transition. Less obvious, though, is the fact that more turnovers by Villanova means fewer possessions that the Wilcats' advantage in the half-court defense can be applied -- on either end. One of the few areas where the 'Cats have an edge over UNC is in the half-court on defense. If UNC can render that moot by jumpstarting its offense via transition, the game will be over quickly. Similarly, the Tarheels' half-court defense is not as good as Villanova's, but that won't matter if the 'Cats forfeit possessions with turnovers.
If the Wildcats are able to execute most of those five keys to the game, a victory and a trip to the national championship on Monday would be well within reach.

What do you think the keys to the game are? Let us know in the comment thread below.

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02 April 2009

Countdown to the Final Four!

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/02/2009 02:18:00 PM
Villanova's return to the Final Four, 24 years in the making, is now just over two days away.

Game time is set for Saturday, April 4, at 8:47 p.m.

Before we get into the more serious game previews tomorrow, allow me to give you that beloved mainstay of trashy MySpace sites everywhere, the blinged-out Flash countdown timer!

See the top right sidebar for the high-tech countdown timer.

Use this comment thread to discuss just how excited you are for the game.

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01 April 2009

Wayns, Cheek play McDonald's A.A. game tonight

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/01/2009 06:10:00 PM
Even though the 2009 season is gloriously still ongoing for Villanova, Wildcat fans can get a sneak peak at two of the team's best incoming players for next season in the annual McDonald's high school all-American game tonight.

Guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek, both Villanova commitments, will play together on the East squad.

The game airs live tonight at 8 p.m. from the University of Miami, and will be broadcast nationwide by ESPN.

Wayns and Cheek join fellow high-school stars Dexter Strickland, Lance Stephenson, Kenny Boynton, and Derrick Favors to face the all-stars from the West.

Memphis recruit DeMarcus Cousins, whose matriculation might now be in jeopardy with John Calipari leaving for Kentucky, is also a member of the East squad.

The West team is led by Memphis-signee Xavier Henry, generally considered the top player in the country. The North-Carolina bound Wear brothers, David and Travis, are also on the West team.

The official site uses annoying-as-hell Flash, horrible music, and (no joke!) floating cartoon bubbles spewing Dick Vitale's voice on every page, so here is a screenshot of the rosters, for your sanity:

Wayns and Cheek will join forwards Mouph Yarou, Isaiah Armwood, and Taylor King as Villanova's fab five in 2009-2010.

With the possible dissolution of Memphis's unheard-of-good recruiting class (Cousins, Henry, and likely John Wall), Villanova's four freshmen might be the very best class in the nation next season.

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Anon. commenters vindicated

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
4/01/2009 02:00:00 AM

Bowing to pressure from an increasingly powerful gallery of anonymous commenters, the popular Villanova basketball blog Let's Go Nova will shut down immediately, according to the site's publisher.

Though it would seem unusual to shutter the blog in the middle of a Villanova Final Four run, with site traffic setting new records every day, blog owner Pete @ LetsGoNova.com cited the sheer eloquence of the anonymous commenters' arguments as the decisive factor.

"I've had a good run these past three years," said Pete, "but the last few weeks have really shown me the light. I had no idea just how dangerously unqualified I was to run an Internet blog -- which is, after all, serious business -- until it was patiently and logically explained to me in the comment section."

The move to close down the site comes amidst several swirling controversies, the most serious an ongoing maelstrom of discussion as to the fictional choice between current Villanova head coach Jay Wright and former Villanova coach Steve Lappas.

"I thought people would be more interested in talking about the amazing string of victories Villanova has put together in the NCAA tournament, but I gravely miscalculated," said Pete.

"I see now that my flippant remark two weeks ago about not minding a hypothetical and impossible Lappas return is much more newsworthy and relevant to Villanova fans than even winning the national championship," admitted Pete.

Dubbed "RePete" by his many detractors, Pete said that closing the blog will give him time to accomplish many of the things in life he's only now realized he'd been lacking.

According to various anonymous commenters, Pete has never played organized basketball, doesn't know anything about basketball, has never even seen a basketball, and, most disturbingly, has never experienced the sweet caress of a woman's touch.

"These are all things I would like to try one day, God willing," admitted a remorseful yet cautiously hopeful Pete.

"I want to thank the anonymous commenters for showing me the folly of my ways," he said.

Shortly after closing the site, Pete posted a tearful goodbye video to thank his few supporters during the course of the publishing the blog.

Speaking on behalf of anonymous commenters across the site, an anonymous spokesman offered a prepared statement in reaction to the news:


The anonymous spokesman then exited the site to read the latest Bill Simmons column, steadfastly refusing to click on any advertisements on his way out of the now-defunct Let's Go Nova home page.

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