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Quick Recap: Marquette 80 Villanova 76

March 11, 2010 1 comment

For the first time since 2003, Villanova was one-and-done in the Big East tournament. Instead of using the tournament as a way to start a turnaround, the Wildcats suffered their fifth loss in the last seven games. Let’s look at the latest of those defeats:

  • Marquette was unbelievably hot from beyond the arc. It hit all six of its attempts in the second half. More than anyone else it was Darius Johnson-Odom who hurt the Wildcats. He was 5-for-7 from deep and finished with 24 points.
  • One of the reasons the Golden Eagles were able to shoot so well from deep was their patience on offense. They routinely wound the shot clock down and waited for an open three. Villanova was often too slow to rotate, and Marquette was rewarded for its patience.
  • The dagger was a Lazar Hayward 3-point shot that broke a 70-70 tie with 1:51 remaining. The Wildcats never managed to tie the game again.
  • The win for Marquette was sweet revenge after losing four straight to Villanova. The last four meetings between the teams have been decided by a combined nine points.
  • Scottie Reynolds played possibly his worst game of the Big East season. He hit just four of ten shots and finished with 10 points. He now stands 49 points behind Kerry Kittles for the the most points in Villanova history. The Wildcats would likely have to advance to the Sweet 16 for him to break the mark.
  • Villanova got off to a very slow start, and one of the reasons why was its 10 first half turnovers. Effects of the double-bye or just the standard for Villanova now?
  • Corey Stokes was clearly the Wildcats best player, scoring 22 points off the bench. He hit eight of nine shots, including six of seven from long range.
  • Maalik Wayns had one of his better games in recent memory, scoring eight points off the bench.
  • One Wildcat who had a particularly poor performance was Reggie Redding. He shot 1-for-9 from the field and finished with just two points. He also took a very questionable shot with Villanova down 73-70 with 1:20 remaining when he forced a layup in traffic. The Wildcats never had the ball down one score again. Despite the performance, Redding led the team with 38 minutes.
  • Taylor King, who’s status was questionable until Tuesday, played two minutes, committed a reckless foul and was then benched for the rest of the game. Isaiah Armwood didn’t play at all.
  • The Wildcats only committed 17 fouls, held the rebounding advantage and shot a higher-percentage than Marquette but still lost.
  • After the game Reynolds made a very interesting comment by saying that he felt the Wildcats were better now than they were when they were ranked No. 2 in the country. Whether its delusion or trying to remain confident, the Wildcats do not sound like a team that is free-falling the last month.

– David Cassilo

Taylor King rumors fly around campus

Taylor King’s absence from Saturday’s game was mysteriously described as a “teaching point” by Jay Wright. Yesterday came the news that this “teaching point” might cost King a chance to play in the Big East tournament.

Rumors around campus are flying and theories that have been given have ranged from behavioral to academic. Nothing is certain other than that Villanova has done an excellent job at being tight-lipped.

The latest rumor is that his NCAA tournament may be in jeopardy, but at this point, that is just a rumor.

Expect to hear soon because if we know anything about Wright, it is that he is a master at eliminating distractions from his team.

-David Cassilo

Taylor King may miss Big East tournament

March 8, 2010 1 comment

Speaking to the media today, Jay Wright said that Taylor King might miss the Big East tournament because of an undisclosed personal issue.

King was benched in Saturday’s loss to West Virginia because of a “teaching point.”

Wright, who was vague on what exactly was the reason behind this, said that he will decide soon whether King will play or not.

-David Cassilo

Quick recap: West Virginia 68 Villanova 66 (OT)

At halftime, Villanova led 29-16. It’s defense looked like it had finally come together, and it appeared that the team would get a much needed confidence building victory heading into the Big East tournament.

How quickly things can change.

West Virginia outscored Villanova 44-31 in the second half, and the Wildcats needed a Corey Fisher 3-point shot with 7.7 seconds left to send the game to overtime. In the extra session, the teams were tied at 66-66 when Da’Sean Butler blew by Reggie Redding for a layup to put his team ahead with 5.8 seconds remaining.

The Wildcats had a chance to win it when the play that Jay Wright drew up worked perfectly, leaving Scottie Reynolds wide open in the corner for a 3-pointer after a pass from Redding, but Reynolds’ shot clanked off the back of the rim as time expired.

The result was a devastating 68-66 loss for Villanova to put a cap on a disappointing finish to the regular season. Villanova dropped five of its last nine games to finish 24-6 overall and 13-5 in the Big East.

The game began to slip into West Virginia’s favor early in the second half when the Wildcats committed six fouls in the first 5:02. By the 9:30 mark Villanova already had nine (two of which were questionable holds away from the ball), and Wright lost his cool and received a technical.

After the technical, the calls began to fall back into Villanova’s favor, and West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins became irate and received a technical too. The game was called poorly for both sides on Saturday.

In the end, it wasn’t the officiating that did Villanova in but instead the play of Butler. With Villanova up 55-53 in regulation, Butler hit a wide-open 3-point shot from the top of they key to give his team a 56-55 lead with 52 seconds remaining. His heroics continued later on the game-winning shot in overtime. He finished the contest with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Despite missing the game-winner, Reynolds once again led the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points. He now stands at 2,184 points for his career, trailing Kerry Kittles by 59 for the school record.

Reynolds did appear a bit beaten up in the game. He fell hard to the floor numerous times, including a play where he jumped over the CBS commentators. He was grimacing often in the second half and did not appear to be 100 percent.

Fisher and Redding also had double-figures in scoring for Villanova with 12 and 10, respectively. Junior Corey Stokes continued his strong play since moving to the bench as he finished with 11 points.

One player who remained on that bench for Villanova was Taylor King. Jay Wright said that King did not play Saturday because of a “teaching point.”

The loss has Villanova most likely slated for the four-seed in the Big East tournament, barring an upset by Rutgers at Pittsburgh. If it is the four-seed, Villanova’s first game would be 2 p.m. on Thursday against the winner of Marquette and its yet to be determined opponent.

– David Cassilo

Quick recap: Villanova 77 Cincinnati 73

At times it wasn’t pretty, but Villanova got the job done as it knocked off the Bearcats to pick up a road win. The victory may not have been enough to silence doubts, but a win is a win. Here’s a look at the most important aspects of the game:

  • Remarkably, the first 13 points of the game were scored by Antonio Pena, Corey Stokes and Mouphtaou Yarou. Stokes had a particularly strong start, scoring 10 points in the first half. The Wildcats needed it as Scottie Reynolds was held scoreless in the first half.
  • For one of the first times this season, there were many questions from Wildcat fans about Jay Wright’s rotation. Corey Fisher was subbed from the game almost immediately, and didn’t return for about 10 minutes. Reynolds also sat for five minutes in the first half, and the two played together for just a few minutes in the first half. In the second half both players found themselves on the bench for long stretches yet again. Meanwhile, Reggie Redding led the team in minutes.
  • While there was a bad call here and there, the fouling generally went in Villanova’s favor for what seemed like the first time in a month. Cincinnati committed two more fouls (24-22) and sent the Wildcats to the line 14 more times (35-21). It was only the second time in the Big East that the Wildcats had a +10 differential at the line.
  • The Wildcats used a 12-1 run to open up the second half and seize control of the game.
  • Villanova fans were feeling good about their team when it led 66-51 with 6:08 remaining, but a 14-0 run by Cincinnati over the next 3:26 made it a game again. Much of that run came with Reynolds on the bench, highlighting the strange rotation that Villanova had for most of the game. Reynolds, who has been well-rested all season, played 29 minutes.
  • Reynolds once again had a strong second half, scoring all of his 17 points there. He took just one shot in the first half, and finished 3-for-6 in the game.
  • The Wildcats almost gave the game away with turnovers by Stokes and Maalik Wayns in the final minute, but the Bearcats were unable to work their way back.
  • Cincinnati took 22 more shots than Villanova (66-44) and made just 7 of 30 3-point attempts.
  • Yarou once again started and looked strong. He finished with 10 points and seems to have carved out a role in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season.
  • Pena fouled out for the eighth time this season, while Taylor King did the same for his fifth time.
  • The Wildcats basically went eight deep tonight as Dominic Cheek and Isaiah Armwood played a combined six minutes.

– David Cassilo

What now? Analyzing the loss to Cuse

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Villanova got handled by Syracuse on the national stage on Saturday night, and with its fourth loss of the month, it is only natural to question whether this team is as good as it was supposed to be. There’s plenty of time this week to get in to that, so here we will just focus on the Syracuse game and what went wrong:

  • Villanova played very well early, jumping out to a 23-14 lead with 11:33 remaining in the first half. Then the Wildcats fell apart, hitting just one field goal in the next nine minutes. By the end of that time span, Syracuse led 36-33 and never looked back.
  • Scottie Reynolds started off on fire, hitting two 3-point attempts and would have had a third if Antonio Pena wasn’t called for a 3-second violation. However, Reynolds only hit one more basket the rest of the half. He finished with 16 and outplayed Wesley Johnson, which perhaps gives him the Player of the Year in the conference, but it was clearly not enough. Amazingly, Reynolds did not attempt a free throw. Let’s get in to that…
  • The foul differential was in Syracuse’s favor 25-14. The free throw attempts were 33-18 for Syracuse. After the game Jay Wright had had enough. He said, “I watched the fouling for six or seven games, and I don’t think it’s our fault. I’m adamant. It’s not our fault.” After missed calls, no calls and incorrect calls for a month, he has finally made public his feelings about the officiating. We will expand on this later in the week.
  • Taylor King looked terrible at times, missing badly on a handful of 3-point attempts. If it wasn’t for the foul trouble, I think Wright would have pulled him. He finished 2-for-7, but did grab 8 rebounds.
  • Reggie Redding started the game for Villanova, played 18 minutes and did not take a shot. For a senior leader who is looked towards to get his team going and be an offensive threat, that is unacceptable.
  • Perhaps the lone bright spot for Villanova was the play of Mouphtaou Yarou. Starting in place of Corey Stokes, Yarou shot 6-for-8 from the field and finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Perhaps most promising was that he was hitting jump shots. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done were it not for two early fouls. With the performance, he may get another start on Tuesday.
  • With the loss, Villanova can finish no better than second in the Big East. It will do just that if it wins its final two games. If it splits the two games, it could finish as low as fourth.

David Cassilo

Cats Win, but Are They Fixed?

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Last night was the best game that the Wildcats have played since the win at West Virginia. Villanova dominated from the opening tip, seized control and always responded when South Florida got close. It was a 74-59 win, and the Wildcats got 21 points from Scottie Reynolds on Senior Night. Funny how easy it is at The Pavilion.

Even better for Villanova was that Pittsburgh lost to Notre Dame, meaning that even if the team loses on Saturday at Syracuse, it will still hold the 2-seed in the Big East tournament.

To analyze just how good this win was, let’s look at each area that struggled against Pitt and see how it fared Wednesday night.

  • Fouls: The Wildcats looked very disciplined on defense, picking up just 17 fouls. Even more important was that very few of those fouls would fall into the category of “stupid” or “unnecessary.” Reggie Redding was the only Wildcat that dealt with foul trouble, and the team was able to overcome his absence. Overall, it was a very low combined foul total (35) for a Big East game, and I’m not sure if the credit should go to both teams or the referees. Either way, it was a step in the right direction for Villanova.
  • Half-court offense: While Villanova got its fair share of points out of the fast break, it also looked very comfortable in the half-court. The reason for this was that Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena both played well, giving the Wildcats more scoring options and giving the Bulls more players to defend. The team wasn’t constantly relying on one-on-one  moves and looked better for it.
  • Bench: One of the main reasons Villanova won was the play of its bench. From the scoring side of it, Dominic Cheek looked fantastic. He finished with 8 points and also added some stellar defense. From the defensive side of it, Mouphtaou Yarou was asked to play a pivotal role, and he did not disappoint. The freshman played 24 minutes and limited the South Florida starting frontcourt to just 12 points. With 4 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks, Yarou was a major contributor. Taylor King also looked better shooting the ball, hitting both his shots for 5 points.
  • Be Aggressive: Perhaps the only area that Villanova did not remarkably improve was in this one. The Wildcats got to the line just 19 times. However, the game was a blowout and the officials let them play more often than not. Still, the Wildcats would like to see that number up around 25.
  • Defense: Ok, we didn’t look at this against Pitt, but it’s worth noting because of the team’s struggles all season. This was arguably Villanova’s most complete defensive game of the season. It held South Florida to 49 points, 38.1 percent shooting and just 42 total shots. It was a complete 40 minutes of defense. Villanova has now put together back-t0-back solid defensive performances, and this might be the sign of things to come.

Although Villanova played great, this was not its perfect game, and I think that’s the most promising part. Throw in a better performance from Corey Fisher, who finished with just 7 points, and add a greater impact from Redding, and this team is firing on all cylinders.

Wednesday was exactly was the Wildcats needed to see, and they seem poised for a strong effort Saturday night at Syracuse.

-David Cassilo