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Daily Times assistant sports editor Terry Toohey covers the college sports beat like no other reporter. Catch his latest updates here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Feeling at east

Jay Wright looked nice and relaxed an hour before Villanova's East Regional championship showdown with Pittsburgh.
He joked with reporters and did not appear to have a care in the world.
What that means for the 'Cats remains to be answered.
Win or lose, the Wildcats will return to the Main Line Sunday. The team charter is scheduled to leave around 11:30 Sunday morning and the team is expected to be on campus around 1:30. Athletic director Vince Nicastro said that there will be a reception for the team at the Pavilion when the team is back on campus.
Here's a good sign for Wildcat fans. Villanova has only reached the Final Four in odd numbered years (1939, '71 and '85).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Uphill battle

All you Villanova fans who aren riding high right now following the Wildcats' 77-54 destruction of Duke Thursday night-Friday morning, don't get your hopes too high.
The Big 5 is 0-8 in regional finals since Villanova won the 1985 national championship.
Temple lost five times in that span (1988, '91, '93, '99 and 2000). Villanova has two losses in regional finals (1988 and 2006). Saint Joe's fell to Oklahoma State in 2004.
On the plus side, Pitt is in its first regional final since 1974.
Whoever wins, though, do not expect a classic.
This will be Big East ugly, which is what Villanova's 67-57 victory over the Panthers at the Spectrum on Jan. 28 was.
Reggie Redding played his you-know-what off and had the game of his life. The Wildcats got Blair into early foul trouble and turned the burly 6-7, 265-pound sophomore into a non-factor.
They'll have to do the same Saturday night to reach the Final Four.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dare to dream?

Go ahead 'Nova fans, say it.
Don't be shy. It's not out of the realm of possibility.
The Wildcats could be headed to the Final Four.
Sure, Villanova has to get past top-seeded Pittsburgh in Saturday's East Regional final, but after the way the Wildcats took apart UCLA and Duke in the last two games, nothing is impossible.
Teams don't do to Duke what the Wildcats did en route to a 77-54 romp over the Blue Devils in the East Regional semifinals Thursday night and early Friday morning.
Villanova did not let Duke breath on offense.
Gerald Henderson was 1-for-14 and his only field goal, a 3-pointer, came with a little over five minutes to go in the game. Jon Scheyer was 3-for-13 and Kyle Singler was 5-for-13. As a team, the Dookies shot 26.7 percent.
That's an old-fashioned butt-whipping.
And just so everyone knows, Daily Times columnist Jack McCaffery called the blowout.
Before the game, McCaffery told Daily News photoprapher Yong Kim that Villanova would win by 20 points.
Kim was so impressed that he shook McCaffery's hand afterward.
Can the Wildcats do it again?
There is no reason why not. Villanova overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Pitt, 67-57, in the only meeting between the teams.
The Panthers are favored by two points.
Duke was a 21/2 point favorite Thursday night.
Vegas got that one wrong.

Halfway to Elite Eight

Villanova's defense has been superb, especially around the basket. Duke could get noting in the paint in the first half.
The Wildcats enjoyed an 18-6 advantage in the paint and had an 11-2 advantage in points in the paint.
The story, though, is Villanova's defense. It has been simply smothering.
Gerald Henderson has been thwarted at every turn and you can see the frustration building on Kyle Singler's face.
Jon Scheyer had it going early for the Blue Devils, but he, too, has been silenced.
If the 'Cats keep this up, it will be an all-Big East showdown in the East Regional final Saturday.

Big East beasts

Connecticut and Pittsburgh made sure the Big East will have at least two teams in the Elite Eight. Will Villanova make it three?
We'll know in a couple of hours.
Levance Fields made sure Pitt was not the first No. 1 seed to go down. The senior guard hit a huge 3-pointer and converted a steal into a layup to rally the Panthers to a 60-55 victory over fourth-seeded Xavier in the first game of Thursday's East Regional semifinal at TD Banknorth Garden.
Pitt gets the winner of the Villanova-Duke game in Saturday's regional final.
Judging by the crowd reaction, Duke does not have many friends in the Garden. The Blue Devils were greeted with a round of boos as they took the floor with four minutes to go before tip-off.
Speaking of support, with a large alumni base in Boston, Villanova had not trouble selling its allotment of 1,200.
"They went pretty quick," Villanova athletic director Vince Nicastro said.

'Cats in the house

The Wildcats just arrived at TD Banknorth Garden, just in time for the second half of the Pitt-Xavier game.
Hey, no need to be here early with a scheduled 10 p.m. (or later) start.
Speaking of Xavier, do not be surprised if the Musketeers topple the top-seeded Panthers. Xavier has the size to bang with Pitt and enough scorers to give Pitt's defense fits, as it showed in the first half.
Six players scored at least four points as the Musketeers opened up a 37-29 lead at halftime. Derrick Brown led the way with 10 points.
Where is DeJuan Blair? He had two points and four boards at the break.
It wouldn't be an NCAA Tournament without a couple of refs from Delaware County. Joe Lindsay Jr. and Bob Donato make up two-thirds of the officiating crew for the Pitt-Xavier game.
As Bob Finucane once said, or maybe it was Ed Gebhart, you can't go anywhere without running into someone from Delco.

Let's get physical

If you're wondering what's going to happen in tonight's Villanova-Duke game, all you have to do is look back at the Wildcats' 89-69 romp over UCLA for the answer.
The Wildcats plan to get physical with the Blue Devils, as they did with the Bruins.
That means no layups on defense and attacking the rim on offense.
Duke is vulnerable to dribble penetration and the Wildcats attack the rim as well as any team in the Big East, especially guards Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher.
As far as the no-layup policy on defense, that could be a double-edged sword. It could leave Duke's Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer open on the wing and they have been deadly from 3-point range.
And Villanova has surrendered 42 3-point field goals in its last four games.
Here's the only prediction I will make.
If Villanova gives up 8 threes or fewer, the 'Cats win.
If Duke has more than 8 threes, the Blue Devils will be in the regional final
One final note, if you're a history buff as I am, you have to come to Boston. It's just a great town. You can walk everywhere and there's so much history that you could spend a couple of days just walking the Freedom Trail.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Randy Foye in town

Talk about timing.
As fate would have it, former Villanova standout Randy Foye is in town just as the Wildcats are set to leave for Boston to take on Duke in the East Regional semifinals Thursday.
Foye is in town with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who take on the 76ers Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center.
Foye played on two Sweet 16 teams in his time at Villanova and was the Big East Player of the Year as a senior in 2006. Dante Cunningham, Dwayne Anderson, Shane Clark and Frank Tchuisi were freshmen on that team so Foye knows a little something about this group.
Check out Wednesday's Daily Times for what Foye thinks of Villanova's run this season and what he's been doing since he graduated three years ago.