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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.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

No Houston for VU

It's all over for the Wildcats.
St. Mary's brought Villanova's NCAA Tournament run to an end.
Final: SMC 75, VU 68
Too much Omar Samhan (32 points), some luck (banked 3 by McConnell) and not enough Scottie Reynolds.
Give credit to the SMC defense. Like Robert Morris, the Gaels took Reynolds out of his game. He never found a rhythm and finished with eight points.
This is the first time Jay Wright has lost in the second round since he arrived at Villanova nine years ago. He was 4-0 in the second round coming into the game.

Stretch time in Providence

This is it. Down to the wire time for the 'Cats.
Maalik Wayns continues to make plays.
Scottie did hit a big 3 when Villanova needed it.
Key, though, is that the 'Cats can't give up a triple. Samhan has 32 and is scoring at will. Three's, though, are killers at this point.

Buckle up

Last 7:36 should be interesting. Villanova on an 11-4 run over the last five minutes.
Unsung heroes abound. Pena coming up big, even though he didn't start. King came off the bench, hit a tough shot and was fouled. Can give the 'Cats the lead.
Difference, though, has been defense. 'Cats have been getting after it. Still can't stop Samhan, but getting after it.

Kids R all right

The torch is being passed right before our eyes. It's not Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding leading the comeback, it's Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek, Maurice Sutton, along with Antonio Pena.
The kids have the 'Cats back in the game. Pena has a chance to tie it with a free throw after the TV timeout.
Wayns playing like an upper classmen. He's been terrific. Team has actually been looking for him. That shows you the torch is already starting to be passed.

G'bye mates?

Villanova is being beaten by a team with five Australians.
Nothing against the Aussies. Good people, great country, even though it did begin as a British penal colony.
But basketball? Come on. 'Cats should be embarrassed.
Can't lose to a team with that student visas

'Cats down seven at the half

St. Mary's was better in every way in the first half and has a 38-31 lead.
The Gaels were better on offense, defense, you name it. Even their fans were more vocal, although not too bright.
One yelled to Villanova during the first half, "Go back to the ACC."
Anyway, the deficit would have been worse had it not been for Corey Stokes. He hit two big 3-pointers to get the Wildcats back into the game.
Still, the problem that has plagued Villanova all season, mainly defense, continues to be a problem. The Gaels have been the better defensive team and that's why they have a seven-point lead at the break.
What is wrong with Scottie Reynolds?
His only field goal in the first half was a steal that he converted into a layup. He only has three baskets in the tournament.
Not good.
Maybe it's The Dunk. The Wildcats rarely play well here during the regular season. Villanova is 12-15 in this building against Providence.
Omar Samhan is the real deal. He has 15 points at halftime and could drop 40 on the 'Cats at this point.
However, Jack McCaffery believes that Villanova has weathered the storm and will come back to win, although not by 20 points.
Me? I'm not so sure.
I have a funny feeling the careers of Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding and Russell Wooten (who) will come to an end.

'Cats in big trouble

Not much has gone right for the Wildcats.
Villanova started fast, but hasn't had too many good looks in the last nine minutes. The 'Cats are 2 for their last 13 after hitting 4 of their first 8 shots from the field.
Scottie Reynolds is 0-for-5.
Gaels, meanwhile, having their way.
Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova may not have the prettiest shots in the world, but they go in.
Jay Wright may be in for his first loss in the second round.

Jay is hot

Jay Wright was not happy with the foul called on Mouphtaou Yarou just before the first broadcast timeout.
He screamed at the officials and then continued to yell at someone at the scorers table. Assistant coaches Chris Walker and Doug West had to pull him back into the huddle.
Good sign for the 'Cats. Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher are aggressive in the early going. Both are looking for their shots.

Gael fans already complaining about refs

The game hasn't started, but that hasn't stopped the St. Mary's fans from complaining about the refs.
As Scottie Reynolds went in for his first layup during warmups, one Gaels fan said "He just got fouled!"
You have to love it.
By the way, Jack McCaffery says it's about time the Wildcats went back to the smaller lineup.
Jack's prediction: 'Cats 85, St. Mary's 65.
Sounds like 'Nova Nation should make the reservations for Houston.

Pregame musings

The shift to a smaller lineup indicates that Jay Wright is more concerned with St. Mary's 3-point shooting than 6-11 Omar Samhan on the inside.
Probably a good idea.
The Wildcats cannot afford to led Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova go wild from the 3-point line as they did against Richmond.
Plus, moving Pena to the bench gives Wright 15 fouls on Samhan with Yarou, Pena and Maurice Sutton in the center mix.
This is also a game where the Wildcats could use Isaiah Armwood's length on defense, but not sure if he will play because of the right knee injury that has plagued him for the last 10 days.
Offensively, the two Coreys, Fisher and Stokes, have to come up big to get the 'Cats to the second round.

Stokes in, Pena out of starting lineup

Jay Wright has decided to go back to a four-guard starting lineup for today's game against St. Mary's.
For basketball reasons, not because of a disciplinary action.
Corey Stokes joins Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding, Corey Fisher and Mouphtaou Yarou in the starting lineup.
Junior forward Antonio Pena will come off the bench.
The move is not a surprise.
The 6-8 Pena played 42 seconds in the second half and overtime of Villanova's 73-70 victory overtime triumph over Robert Morris in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hits keep coming in Big East

It has not been a good week for the Big East. First, Bobby Gonzalez gets fired at Seton Hall. No real big loss there. He had to go.
Then came Thursday, when three of the four Big East teams in action went down and Villanova nearly became the first No. 2 seed since 2001 to bite the dust in the first round.
Georgetown, Marquette and Notre Dame are gone. Georgetown's loss was the most embarrassing for the league. Ohio manhandled the Hoyas, 97-83.
Notre Dame's loss wasn't much better. There is no was the Irish should have lost to Old Dominion.
As for Villanova, the Wildcats better right what's wrong or they will be heading home, too. The Wildcats looked lost against Robert Morris, especially Corey Fisher. he was out of sync the entire game, most likely a result of the benching for what Jay Wright called a "teaching point."
What is a "teaching point" anyway. Come on Jay, just say they were late for a meeting, didn't do something you wanted them to do or whatever minor transgression took place.
If it's not that big of a deal, why not say what happened. What's the harm in that?
By not coming right out and say what happened leads to rampant speculation, the kind you don't want to see in print.
In the age of the Internet, anything can get on-line.
Honesty is always the best policy. Besides, once you say what happened it's over and done with. Instead, all you do is fuel the speculation that are on blogs and messages boards everywhere.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cancel the charter

Villanova gets to stay around for a few more days, thanks to a big second half and overtime performance from Scottie Reynolds and a lot of help from the referee's whistle.
Reynolds scored 18 of his team-high 20 points in the second half and overtime, including two free throws with 9.1 seconds left in the extra session, to lead the Wildcats to a 73-70 victory over Robert Morris in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Villanova takes on the winner of the Richmond-St. Mary's game.
RMU fans gave the Colonials a well-deserved standing ovation. Robert Morris deserved to win this game, not Villanova.

Going overtime

Villanova had a chance to win it at the buzzer but Maurice Sutton could not convert Reggie Redding's alley-oop pass as time expired.
Heck, he didn't even get rim. The ball bounced harmlessly off the backboard.
Bad, just bad. This is the big leagues. You have to dunk that ball.
58-58 stay tuned

'Cats getting all the calls

It seems like every call has gone Villanova's way.
Until Maalik Wayns was called for his fifth foul, the last five personals went against RMU.
RMU coach Mike Rice was so hot that he had to be restrained by Dallas Green during the last broadcast timeout
Scottie Reynolds, who has 1 field goal, not 2, has hit 7 of 8 from the line to tie the game, that is until Karon Abraham just took the All-American to school to put the Colonials back on top

Time running out on 'Cats

This game is close to being over.
Robert Morris has been up to the challenge. The Colonials have answered every Villanova run with one of their own.
The Wildcats have to get the lead. They do not want to be trailing this team in the last minute.
Bad news for RMU. Point guard Velton Jones has fouled out, as as Gary Wallace.
Scottie Reynolds is 2-for-14 and 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

Nova won't be the first BE team out

If the Wildcats lose, at least they won't be the first Big East team knocked out of the tournament.
Old Dominion just downed Notre Dame, 51-50.

APB for Corey Fisher

What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on with Corey Fisher?
It took him to the 11:55 mark of the second half to attempt his field goal. OK, you messed up and did something that kept you out of the starting lineup, but you don't take a shot until nearly midway through the second half?
Thought for a minute that the RMU fans may have jinxed the Colonials with a much-too-early "Over-rated" chant with 14:41 to play in the game.
Not so sure now.
'Cats look lost. Have not flow on offense and are a step late getting to the shooters on defense.
'Nova will have to really come up big to keep from being the first major upset of the tournament.

Going small

Interesting move. Wright decides to go with a smaller lineup and subs Stokes for Pena after Reynolds hits his first field goal of the game.
Don't know if that will be the answer on the boards, but Wright has to try something to light a fire under the 'Cats.
Forgot to mention that redshirt freshman Maurice Sutton gave Villanova 10 good minutes off the bench. The lean 6-11 center had two points and two big blocked shots, the second left to a shot-clock violation by the Colonials.

Love to be a fly on the wall

Don't know what Jay Wright had to say during halftime, but he kept the Wildcats in the locker room a long time.
Villanova came out of the locker room with less that five minutes to go in halftime and every player had a serious look on his face.
We'll see if it's enough to get Villanova to the second round.
This would be a worse loss than the one to Old Dominion in 1995.

'Cats lucky only to be down six

Give the first half to Robert Morris.
If not for turnovers (13) and fouls (11) the Colonials would be up by more than 28-22 at the break.
RMU is doing what every team in the last two months have done to the Wildcats. They're making threes and getting in the face of the Villanova shooters.
The Colonials have shown no fear of their opponent from the big, bad Big East Conference. They're whipping the Wildcats on the boards (21-10 overall, 7-3 on the offensive glass), beating Villanova to spots and are the better team after the first 20 minutes.
RMU was able to maintain it's lead even though leading scorer Karon Abraham (ine points) sat out nearly the last six minutes after he picked up his second personal foul.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, have been pitiful on offense. Villanova shot 3-for-17 after a 4-for-6 start. The free throw percentage isn't much better. The Wildcats are shooting 54.5 percent from the stripe.
Here's how bad it is for Villanova. Taylor King is the leading scorer at the break with six points. Reynolds, Maalik Wayns and Mouphtaou Yarou have four points each.
If this keeps up, the charter will leave sometime late this afternoon or early this evening.

'Cats in trouble

The only thing keeping Villanova in this game is the referee's whistle. The Wildcats are being outplayed in every phase of the game.
RMU killing Villanova on the boards and stifling Villanova's shooters.
The Wildcats are 1-for-their-last-13 from the field and have not had a field goal in almost eight minutes.
The question is, can RMU sustain this for 40 minutes?

American all over again?

It sure looks like it.
Robert Morris is playing inspired basketball, even thought the Colonials have been sloppy (eight turnovers alread).
The 'Cats better guard Karon Abraham or it could be an early exito.
Jay Wright waited a little longer than most people thought to get Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher into the game. It hasn't made a difference.
Chester's Russell Johnson has given the Colonials a spark off the bench.

Phil Martelli in house

Getting ready for tip-off and just ran into Saint Josesph's coach Phil Martelli. His son, Jimmy, is an assistant coach for Robert Morris.
The Colonials had three buses of fans make the 15-hour trek from Moon Township, which is just outside of Pittsburgh.
Here we go

No Scottie or Fisher in starting lineup

A surprise change to Villanova's starting lineup.
Freshman Maalik Wayns and junior Corey Stokes will start in place of senior Scottie Reynolds and junior Corey Fisher.
Reynolds and Fisher are being disciplined for what Villanova coach Jay Wright called, A minor teaching point," according to media relations director Mike Sheridan.
No indication of what that "teaching point" was.
Wright used the same excuse with Taylor King's recent undisclosed personal issue.
Reynolds and Fisher will play, Sheridan said, they just won't start.
The duo has started every game this season.
The disciplinary measure snaps a string of 76 consecutive starts for Reynolds. The last time he came off the bench was in Villanova's 68-54 loss at Louisville March 2, 2008.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One and done for the 'Cats

Another bad loss for the Wildcats, who have now dropped 5 of their last 7 and now must await their NCAA fate following a 80-76 loss to Marquette in the quarterfinal round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Thursday afternoon.
It is the first time the Wildcats have not won a Big East Tournament game since 2003
Lazar Hayward drilled a 3-pointer to put Marquette up for good, 73-70 with 1:51 to play in the game. Maurice Acker and Hayward combined to hit four straight free throws to give the Golden Eagles a 77-72 advantage.

Marquette back on top

Darius Johnson-Odom sparked a 9-2 run that has Marquette back on top, 57-54, with 7:54 to play in the game.
Johnson-Odom scored five of those points and fed David Cubillan for the 3-pointer that gave the Golden Eagles their first lead since a 28-26 advantage in the first half.
Marquette has scored on 9 of its last 10 possessions.

Johnson-Odom returns

Call off the APB on Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom, who vanished after scoring all 11 of his points in the first half during a 2 minute, 14 second stretch.
Johnson-Odom finally got points 12 and 13 on a reverse layup with 12:09 left in the game. It was his first points since the 10:48 mark of the first half.
Villanova's offense continues to be efficient, but the Wildcats could use a stop on defense.

Going down to the wire

Get ready for a thriller because this one is going down to the wire.
An 8-4 run has cut Villanova's lead to 40-38 with 15:07 to play.
Scary moment for the 'Cats. Corey Stokes, who has been on fire with 17 points, came up limping after Lazar Hayward's layup tied the game, 38-38.
Stokes has just been replaced by Dominic Cheek but does not appear to be receiving treatment on the bench.

Scottie delivers

Scottie Reynolds played point guard on two straight possession and just like that the Wildcats have a 36-30 lead.
Reynolds fed Corey Fisher for a 3-pointer and then found Corey Stokes wide open for another triple.
Meanwhile, Marquette's shooting woes continue. The Golden Eagles missed their first three attempts in the second half including a chippie by Jimmy Butler.
That was enough for Buzz Williams to call a timeout.

Even at the break

The Wildcats went on a 13-4 run over the last 6:23 to forge a 30-30 deadlock at halftime.
Corey Stokes has give Villanova a huge lift off the bench. The 6-5 junior guard has 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Maalik Wayns has come up big, too. The freshman guard has six points in nine minutues.
Villanova's bench has outscored Marquettes reserves, 17-2
Another positive for Villanova is that the Wildcats have only committed six personal fouls. However, Villanov has turned the ball over 10 times in the first 20 minutes.
The Golden Eagles have a 10-0 advantage in points off turnovers.
Marquette allowed Villanova to get back into the game by shooting 2-for-12 in the last six minutes including 0-for-6 from 3-point range. The Golden Eagles hit five of the first six from beyond the arc.
Jay Wright wanted to give the referees a piece of his mind before heading into the locker room. Luckily, ESPN sideline reporter Beth Mowins grabbed Wright for a halftime interview. May have save Jay a T.

Buzz bump

Marquette coach Buzz Williams just head-butted Joseph Fulce after Corey Fischer went down the lane uncontested to tie the game, 28-28.

Marquette finally goes cold

After hitting was seemed like every shot, the Golden Eagles suddently can't buy a basket. Marquette has missed five shot in a row and the Wildcats took advantage of that dry spell to cut the seficit to 26-23 with 3:01 left in the first half.
Villanova could be in the lead if it took a little better care of the basketball. Maalik Wayns and Scottie Reynolds combined for three straight turnovers after Wayns hit a pair of free throws to get the Wildcats withing three.
Marquette has not made field goal in nearly six minutes.

'Cats struggling

The Wildcats look out of sync. If not for Corey Stokes, who has scored the last seven Villanova points, the Wildcats would be in trouble.
Marquette playing with confidence. Finding open shooters on offense and defense has taken Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher out of the game.
Reynolds can wait for the second half. He needs to take over now to keep the Wildcats in the championship hunt.

Three's trouble in NYC

Once again the Wildcats are not defending the 3-point line. Marquette is 5-for-7 from beyond the arc.
Darius Johnson-Odom is on fire. He has hit three straight triples to give the Golden Eagles a 21-17 lead with just over 10 minutes left

Georgetown KO's Syracuse

The No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament is gone.
Eighth-seeded Georetown took out the top-seeded Orange, 91-84, in the first game of the quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.
Even worse for Syracuse, senior forward/center Arinze Onuaku had to be helped from the floor late in the game with a right knee injury. The extent of the injury is not known at this point. The loss also may have cost Syracuse a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Chris Wright paced Georgetown with 27 points and six assists. Austin Freeman had 18 points and three assists. Jason Clark added 17 points and four assists, while center Greg Monroe finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
The Hoyas (21-9) had 22 assists on 33 baskets.
The winner gets the survivor of the Villanova-Marquette game.
That could be a tough matchup for the Wildcats. Georgetown whipped Villanova, 103-90, at the Verizon Center Feb. 6.