Friday, March 13, 2009

Show Me My Opponent - Villanova Wildcats

Nickname: Wildcats

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Arena: Wachovia Center (capacity 21,600)
Head Coach: Jay Wright (8th season)

Record: 26-6 (14-5 Big East)
RPI: 14
SOS: 47

Record against the Cards: 6-7 (Cards won last meeting 61-60, January 10 at Wachovia Center, Philly)
Spread: Cards minus 4.5

History of the Program - Villanova has been a power and threat under current coach Jay Wright since he arrived on campus. Nova will always be known for their miracle run in 1985 to the National Title under Rollie Massiminno (upsetting Big East rival Georgetown). A run that showed a team that had to play a near perfect game to win. Despite later reports that revealed that some Nova players were doing cocaine at halftime in the locker room. A member of what is known as the Philadelphia super five (along with Temple, La Salle, St. Josephs and Pennsylvania), a group of Universities all based in the Philadelphia area. Villanova is one of several Catholic schools in the Big East (Is the oldest and largest Catholic University in Pennsylvania) and like most of them do not compete in Division I football.

Notable Alumni -
Jim Croce- Musician, best known for his song Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (which is in my head for the rest of the day; I’ve been known to rip it on karaoke also)
Toby Keith - Musician (attended, didn't finish but was awarded honorary degree)
Victoria Zdrok (pictured) - 1994 Playmate of the Month (October) and 2004 Pet of the Year
Howie Long - NFL Hall of Fame Defensive End (Raiders), not just the guy from the Radio Shack commercials who makes fun of Terry Bradshaw's lack of hair.

Brian Westbrook - Current NFL running back (Eagles), most complete back in the NFL, key part to Fantasy in the Ville Champion (eh-hum) Tardner Cebb's roster

Hoops Alumni
Kerry Kittles - Former NBA player (lottery pick by Nets)
Malik Allen - Current NBA center (Nets)
Randy Foye - Current NBA guard (Timberwolves)
Kyle Lowry - Current NBA point guard (Grizzlies)
Allen Ray - Current NBA guard (Celtics)
Tim Thomas - Current NBA forward (Clippers)
Paul Arizin - Former NBA player (mostly Philadelphia Warriors), listed by the NBA as one of their 50 Greatest players in 1996
Chris Ford - Former Player (Pistons and Celtics) and coach (Celtics, Bucks, Clippers, and 76ers) First man to hit a three point shot in NBA history (October 12th, 1979)

Rory Sparrow (pictured left) - Former NBA point guard

Tim Donaghy - Former NBA ref who was found guilty of fixing games for gambling purposes

Probable Starters -

Guard - Scottie Reynolds - 6'2 180 Junior #1
Has been a thorn in Cards fans sides since he got to Villanova. Originally signed with Oklahoma but changed his mind when Coach Sampson left for Indiana. Is as fast as they come with the ball, second on the team in scoring (15.7 a game), while leading the Wildcats in assists a game (3.7). Does have a tendency to be bit turnover prone though 2.6 pg)

Guard – Reggie Redding 6’5 205 Junior #15
Redding is a solid role player, averaging 6.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 3.0 apg. We’ll see a lot of Redding as he’s averaging just under 30 minutes per game. Takes good care of the basketball.

Forward – Shane Clark 6’7 205 Senior #20
The Philly native gives Wright solid minutes, averaging 5.4 ppg and 3.8 boards. Was really a non-factor against Louisville, then saw his minutes drastically pick up over the past two months and has been a contributor.

Forward - Dante Cunningham - 6'8 230 Senior #33
Leads the team in scoring at 17.1 points a game, while grabbing 7.3 rebounds a game. Put up 21 against the Cards last outing, leading all scores. Has a sister (Davalyn Cunningham), who plays in the WNBA.

Forward - Dwayne Anderson - 6'6 215 Senior #22
Averages 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game and has become an integral part of the Wildcats attack since missing several weeks at beginning of season.

Guard - Corey Stokes - 6'5 220 Sophomore #24
A sharpshooter who is putting up 9.5 points a game and hitting 44% of his three point attempts.

Forward - Antonio Pena - 6'8 235 Sophomore #0

The perfect role player, averaging 6 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. Pena will hustle for every ball and take any charge. The x-factor type player the Cards must not forget about on a team of good players. Chose Villanova over Louisville and others coming out of High School in Brooklyn, NY.

Guard – Corey Fisher – 6’1 185 Sophomore #10
Fisher generally comes off the bench, but may get the start tomorrow. Either way, he averages 31 minutes per game, so we should be familiar with his name by about 8:00 tomorrow night. He averages 10.8 ppg and 2.8 apg.

Position by Position Breakdown (Courtesy of Trevor)
Guards -

Sosa-vs-Reynolds: Advantage Nova, Sosa has played well over the last few games but Reynolds is better then Sosa at every aspect of the game.
Smith-vs-Stokes: Push, Both are similar players, while I do think Jerry (Smith) is a better ball handler.

Forwards -
Williams-vs-Anderson: Advantage Cards, Anderson is a bench player in a starters role. Big advantage Cards

Clark-vs-Pena: Advantage Cards, It really depends which Clark shows up. Hopefully we’ll see Real Earl Clark like yesterday

Center -
Samuels-vs-Cunningham: Push, Samuels maybe a better player but he is a Freshman going on the road against a very good Senior.

Bench - Advantage Cards, Louisville is one of the deepest teams in the country. Louisville can bring five players off their bench that can contribute is one way or another. Villanova has one, maybe two.

While Louisville is looking to steal perhaps a No. 1 seed for the tourney, the Wildcats are looking to better their projected seeding of a three or four. A win over the Cards would certainly boost their résumé. The Wildcats are coming off an emotional, down-to-the-wire win over Marquette and will be riding high. And Nova fans are still smarting from that loss back in January in which they blame their own poor free-throw shooting down the stretch for their demise. So we got that whole “revenge factor” thing working against us too.

Villanova is one of the hottest teams in the country, winning 12 of their last 14, and handled Marquette yesterday for the first half, but ended up winning by only one point on a buzzer-beater. They were led by guards Corey Stokes and Scottie Reynolds.

To get to the Big East Championship
, our guards will have to step up their play Friday. MUST, MUST take better care of the ball than they did Thursday. They’ll also have to knock down some outside buckets. Don’t expect to go 3-25 like last outing against this team and come out with a W. However, don’t expect T-Will to have another 1-7, 6 point performance like Thursday either. Numero Uno is a touch match-up for the Wildcats; I expect big things out of him.

I also expect the Real Earl Clark to stand up again. He and Samardo will create trouble for the guard-oriented, undersized Cats. In the win up in Philly, the two combined for 31 points.

Finally, there is no reason for a team like Nova to outrebound us like they did in January. If they do, I won’t bathe for a day.

T-Will got whatever-that-was out of his system Thursday, Samardo is getting into beast mode, E5 is now post-season E5, and I expect Jerry, Preston, Sosa and McGee to recognize the challenge Villanova’s backcourt brings, step up to it, and go to work. It’s time to end this curse that is Madison Square Garden:

Prediction: Louisville 72, Villanova 69

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