NCAA Game Analysis: Second Round, Friday Evening

Posted by KDoyle on March 22nd, 2013

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#2 Georgetown vs. #15 Florida Gulf Coast – South Region Second Round (at Philadelphia) – 6:50 PM ET on TBS

Florida Gulf Coast is one of the better stories in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Only in their sixth year as a Division 1 program, the Eagles are riding their first winning season in history thanks to the hiring of former Florida State assistant Andy Enfield. In Enfield’s first year, they finished 15-17, but were a game away from the NCAA Tournament as they lost to Belmont in the Atlantic Sun finals. This year, Florida Gulf Coast has been the team to beat, and it began with an early season win over Miami (FL). FGCU’s style of play greatly differs from today’s opponent, the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hoyas are predicated on a stingy zone defense that rarely allows for clean looks at the basket, and they play at a snail’s pace. Led by Otto Porter, Georgetown has a legitimate star that can carry them deep into the NCAA Tournament. FGCU very much likes to get up and down the floor with Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson leading the attack. If FGCU is able to get out in the open floor and score in transition, they’ll keep it close for much of the game. Problem is that not many teams control the pace of a game quite like Georgetown—that’s what makes them such a difficult opponent as they force the opposition to play their style of game. Historically, Georgetown has struggled in the NCAA Tournament under John Thompson III as they’ve failed to reach the second weekend in four of six appearances under him, but many believe this is a different Hoya team. FGCU is playing with house money and expect them to make a game of this, but in front of a heavy Georgetown crowd in Philadelphia the Hoyas are simply too much in the end.

Andy Enfield has his FGCU squad playing great basketball. (AP)

Andy Enfield has his FGCU squad playing great basketball. (AP)

The RTC Certified Pick: Georgetown

#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Iona – West Regional Second Round (at Dayton, OH) – 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS
One of the nation’s most balanced teams, the knock on the Buckeyes for the longest time this season was that they didn’t have a secondary scorer to help out junior DeShaun Thomas. We’ll get to that in a second, but let’s just say that Iona never had such a problem. Senior guard Lamont “Momo” Jones has always been the main offensive weapon on this team, never afraid to look for his own shot, but the Gaels have always trusted guard Sean Armand and forward David Laury to chip in heavily in the scoring column. And as a result, the Gaels have one of the most efficient offenses in the mid-major ranks. The problem for Tim Cluess’ team is the complete inability to stop teams on defense; only nine times all season have they held an opponent below one point per possession in a game. Given that Ohio State is one of the best defensive teams in the nation (sixth in defensive efficiency per KenPom.com), you can expect the Buckeyes to at least slow Iona’s prolific offense. And given that Thad Matta has been getting significantly improved offensive play out of guys like Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson, you can expect the Bucks to take advantage of that buttery soft Gael defense. While Momo Jones, et al. have the ability to make some exciting plays when they’ve got the ball, their inattention to details defensively will allow the Buckeyes to have more than their share of exciting offensive plays as well.

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Big East Monday Primer: Post-Super Bowl Edition

Posted by mlemaire on February 4th, 2013

The season is entering the home stretch and the games are getting more important by the day. To reflect that, we are putting together a Monday Primer which will basically recap important things from the weekend and then look ahead at important games during the week. Hope you enjoy!

What Happened This Weekend

1. Villanova undid all of the hard work they did in back-to-back wins over Louisville and Syracuse by losing at home to lowly Providence. The Friars had only nine players available and the Wildcats still couldn’t capitalize, shooting 27 percent from the field and making just 2-of-15 three-pointers. They had a chance down the stretch when they tied the game up with less than a minute to play but Bryce Cotton hit a big three to seal the win for the Friars. The Wildcats are young, so inconsistency isn’t unexpected, but it seems pretty clear this is not an NCAA Tournament team.

After last week went great, this week it was back to a lot of this for Jay Wright (Photo credit: H. Rumph Jr/AP Photo).

After last week, this week it was back to a lot of this for Jay Wright (Photo credit: H. Rumph Jr/AP Photo).

2. Pittsburgh scored the big upset of the weekend and added a good win to its resume by pulling away from No. 6 Syracuse in the second half. This really doesn’t even count as much of an upset considering Pitt has no business being unranked given their efficiency on both ends of the floor, but it is still an important win for the Panthers. Pitt is basically 10-deep, talented, and coach Jamie Dixon has the team rolling as they are winners of five of their last six. If they take care of business tonight against Seton Hall, they should be in great position for the home stretch.

3. It was the same old story this weekend for DePaul, which nearly staged a tough second-half comeback against Notre Dame only to lose by eight points in overtime. The Blue Demons have lost six straight and have just one conference win. Its still just his third season but given the lack of overall improvement in the league standings, the seat under coach Oliver Purnell might be getting a little warm. His team may need to show some signs of life if the program is going to give him another year to right the ship.

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Big East M5: 01.08.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on January 8th, 2013

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  1. After Syracuse kicked off its Big East farewell road tour with a 55-44 win over USF in the Sun Dome, Jim Boeheim admitted he wouldn’t be accompanying his team to the ACC were Syracuse leaving the Big East of yore. “If it was the same and we were leaving, I wouldn’t leave. I would have just retired. It’s not the same.” Boeheim didn’t seem to elaborate, which leaves us to wonder if he would have eschewed a lateral move to the ACC out of loyalty to the school’s home of 30 years. Perhaps in light of a growingly tenuous conference landscape, Boeheim doesn’t want his retirement to hamper Syracuse’s footing in its new league. Either way, it’s an ironic position considering his administration effectively co-authored the Big East’s death sentence more than a year ago.
  2. Villanova point guard Ryan Arcidiacono won Big East Rookie of the Week honors for the second week in a row yesterday. Confronted by an embarrassing 4-4 record a month ago, the home-grown freshman has helped orchestrate a six-game winning streak, which he capped off with a 36-point performance in Nova’s overtime win over St. John’s. His seven made three-pointers fell one short of Ray Allen’s single-game record –– quite an achievement for a freshman who missed his entire high school senior season with a back injury.
  3. New York Post columnist Zach Braziller has issued a mea culpa for dismissing Louisville’s Russ Smith as a high-major prospect. The writer has spent plenty of time around future pros covering New York City high school hoops, and even he was blindsided by Smith’s metamorphosis. “I felt he was making a mistake by going to prep school, that he should pick whatever mid-major would have him.” While he now appreciates the unrefined talent Smith possessed three years ago, what most impressed Braziller was the junior’s unwillingness to crow to his detractors: “The way basketball is, you just have to end up being lucky,” Smith told him.
  4. Seth Davis calls Marquette his team of the week in college hoops, after a marquee win over Georgetown and a 2-0 Big East start. Davis cautions that Buzz Williams’ team still needs to prove it can pull out similar wins on the road. Elsewhere, MU blog Paint Touches writes that Jamil Wilson has found his niche as a high post zone-buster, after channeling a dash of Jae Crowder in the Georgetown win.
  5. On the heels of last weekend’s 10-point home loss to DePaul, Friarblog argues that Providence has “regressed in all areas” over the past two weeks, despite adding Kris DunnVincent Council and Sidiki Johnson to its roster. After a promising 8-2 start, Ed Cooley’s squad has now dropped four in a row and claims a share of the worst Big East record to this point (0-2). Along with some salient observations about the Friars’ turnover bug and a call for Ed Cooley to make systemic adjustments on defense, the post resurrects this artifact from the dustbin of history:Davis-Full-Court-Pressing-System-774

 

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Big East M5: 01.07.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on January 7th, 2013

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  1. So that whole thing about the ‘Catholic Seven‘ breaking away from the Big East?  That’s looking like an even better decision than we initially thought. According to ESPN.com‘s Darren Rovell, the seven schools have an offer from FOX, which is looking to launch its own sports channel next summer, for 12 years and $500 million. According to the report, the schools would look to bring in three to five additional members who would receive lesser shares, and the seven schools would each make around $5 million per year. In the current Big East, non-football members now make between $2-$3 million per season. These schools may not have powerful football programs, but Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, and the others still hold some weight in the basketball world, as FOX’s reported offer shows.
  2. Meanwhile, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco is having a rough go of things. In a Hartford Courant article, he compares the last six weeks to “drinking from a flood”.  That time period includes the departures of Louisville and Rutgers, the news that Boise State would remain in the Mountain West, and the announcement that the ‘Catholic Seven’ would breaking away from the Big East. Unfortunately for Aresco, it is really less of a flood and more of a drought in terms of viable programs remaining in his conference. San Diego State, which was planning to join as a football-only member, may now turn its back on the conference with Boise gone, and there seems to be real questions as to whether Navy ever ends up joining for football either. To wrap this all up, there does not seem to be many other qualified programs in the east, and schools like Cincinnati, UConn, and USF will jump ship as soon as another viable conference comes calling.
  3. CBS Sports‘ basketball guru Gary Parrish recently penned his mid-season review for the Big East, and everything seemed to line up until his pick for ‘freshman of the year favorite’. Parrish chose Pitt’s Steven Adams as his selection, a players who is having a decent year, and he mentions Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono as another candidate, but as Pitt blog Cardiac Hill notes, by far the best choice for this award is St. John’s forward Jakarr Sampson. Sampson is averaging 13.9 points and seven rebounds per game to Adams’ 7.3/6.2 numbers, and has definitely been the conference’s most impressive rookie so far.
  4. Speaking of the Johnnies, they got what may end up being a signature win against Cincinnati on Saturday. Sampson had a solid night, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight boards, but in crunch time Steve Lavin gave the ball to D’Angelo Harrison. Harrison was having an off night for the Red Storm, but came through in the clutch regardless, scoring the final five points in a 53-52 win over the Bearcats. Harrison was benched by Lavin earlier this season when he wasn’t living up to his potential as a team leader and role model… and it certainly seems like his disciplinary tactics are now paying off.
  5. Brandon Triche has always been somewhat of an enigma to Syracuse fans.  He is a four-year starter, and his statistical lines read like those of a consistently good-but-not-great player. However, many people, including Jim Boeheim, envisioned more from Triche, and it seems like the senior guard may be breaking out at the right time for the Orange. In the first two Big East games of the season, Triche has scored a total of 45 points on 16-of-24 shooting, and has taken some of the play-making pressure off of point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Syracuse does not have great depth at guard, especially when freshman Trevor Cooney struggles to score, so Triche’s ability to provide consistent scoring and spell MCW by running the point has proven to be invaluable this season.
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A Shooting Duel Between D’Angelo Harrison and Ryan Arcidiacono Disguised as a Big East Opener

Posted by CNguon on January 3rd, 2013

Joe Dzuback is an RTC correspondent who maintains the blog Villanova by the Numbers and tweets at @vbtnblog. He filed this report after Villanova’s opening Big East Conference game at the Pavilion on Wednesday night.

A Catholic 7 Preview?

A very young St. John’s (9-4, 0-1) team took an inexperienced Villanova (10-4, 1-0) squad to overtime before falling 98-86 in overtime at the Pavilion on Villanova’s campus Wednesday night. Having committed the foul on D’Angelo Harrison that allowed the Red Storm sophomore to sink the two free throws that tied the game at 83 and sent it into overtime, Villanova sophomore Darrun Hilliard made amends.

Arcidiacono’s crossover so frustrated St. John’s Jamal Branch (#00 in red) that the Texas A&M transfer threw a high elbow near the end of the first half, and drew a flagrant #1. Arcidiacono went to the line for two and the ball. The Wildcats scored twice more at the line in their possession, creating a four point swing (RTC staff)

Arcidiacono’s crossover so frustrated St. John’s Jamal Branch (0) that the Texas A&M transfer threw a high elbow near the end of the first half that drew a flagrant (RTC staff)

Two minutes into the overtime period, with the score still knotted at 83 and both teams misfiring from the field, the 6’6” wing sank two free throws, then picked Red Storm guard Harrison’s pocket and scored a layup to secure an 87-83 lead that the Wildcats would not relinquish. The Big East opening game for both squads became a showcase for two outstanding individual performances. St. John’s Harrison scored 36 points on 11-of-21 (6-of-12 three-pointers) shooting from the field and 8-of-11 from the line while Villanova’s freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono countered with 32 points on 7-of-15 (7-of-13 from beyond the arc) shooting from the field and 11-13 from the line. “Harrison [D’Angelo Harrison] was incredible, he scores 36 points,” lamented Villanova coach Jay Wright in Villanova’s postgame press conference. “About three minutes of 45 minutes we did a really good job on him, but the rest of the game he was just too much.”

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The Freshman 10: The Best and Worst of Big East Newcomers

Posted by mlemaire on December 6th, 2012

The season is only a month and some change old but it is never too early to check in on the progress of some of the conference’s most heralded and surprising freshmen. While young bloods like Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Nik Stauskas of Michigan have made an instant splash on the college scene, the Big East’s crop of rookies have made a more muted impact.  There was no methodology when it came to selecting which freshmen to analyze, so we just chose 10 of the most interesting freshmen to follow. Of course, conference play hasn’t even begun yet, so evaluating their body of work is somewhat of a trivial venture. But don’t you worry, we will be back later in the year to check in on some of these players again.

DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse)

The Learning Curve For Prized Freshman DaJuan Coleman Has Been Steeper Than Some Expected

It is still far too early to make a judgment call on what type of player DaJuan Coleman can become this season. But those who expected the highly touted forward to come in and immediately start anchoring the paint for the Orange probably need to adjust their expectations. To his credit, he seems to be getting better each game. But in six games against subpar competition, Coleman hasn’t seen much playing time and has shown only promise and inconsistency when he does play.

Anyone with eyes can see the wide-bodied forward is going to be an excellent rebounder and considering he is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game in just 16.3 minutes of playing time, he is already on his way to validating that obvious observation. But he isn’t a shot-blocker which is fine so long as he is an efficient scorer in the post and an elite rebounder. He has an impressive skill set and nimble feet for a man his size, but the ball rarely makes it back out to the perimeter if it goes to Coleman in the post, and he will need to take better care of it and make smarter decisions if he wants to continue to receive looks in the paint. His downfall offensively may be his sketchy free-throw shooting (55 FT%) as he is the type of strong interior player destined to draw a lot of fouls, and if he can even make his free throws at a 66 percent clip, he will be a much more productive scorer.

Jakarr Sampson (St. John’s)

It should come as no surprise that Sampson has adjusted to college basketball quickly because the Akron native was supposed to be suiting up for the Red Storm last season before lackluster academics forced him to return to prep school. But now that he is on the roster, he has wasted little time making his mark on both ends of the floor and is the clear front-runner for conference rookie of the year honors. The lanky 6’8″ forward already had a well-deserved reputation as a sensational dunker, but his game is more nuanced than that. Sampson has thus far started all nine of the team’s games, averaging 30.8 minutes per game, and he ranks second on the team in scoring (13.8 PPG), first in rebounding (6.6 RPG), and second in blocks (1.6 BPG).

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Set Your DVR: Week of 12.04.12

Posted by bmulvihill on December 4th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

It’s Jimmy V. Week and the college football regular season has come to end. That means college hoops takes center stage at universities across the country and we couldn’t be happier. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

#16 Georgetown vs. Texas – 7:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (***)

Expect Otto Porter to Bounce Back Against Texas (AP/R. Sutton)

  • The big question in the Georgetown-Texas game is where are the points going to come from on both sides. The Hoyas are coming off the ugliest game college basketball has seen in quite some time. While they beat Tennessee on Friday night by a score of 37-36, coach John Thompson III cannot be happy with how his team is performing on the offensive end. On the other side, the Longhorns are struggling to score as well. They are shooting an eFG% of 48.7% on the season against teams like UT-Arlington, Sam Houston State, and Chaminade (a game in which they lost). Expect this game to be a defensive slugfest. No one wants to see a disaster similar to Georgetown-Tennessee, but this game has that kind of feel. The Hoyas have the length advantage once again in this match-up and should be able to take advantage on the boards, and it’s unlikely that Georgetown forward Otto Porter will be held in check again. So keep a close eye on how he responds to his eight-point performance on 4-11 shooting against the Vols. While the Texas defense has been strong, their competition does not give us much to go on. The Longhorns will continue to struggle without point guard Myck Kabongo in the lineup regardless.

#21 North Carolina State vs. Connecticut  9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (***)

  • Since UConn’s surprise win against Michigan State in the opener, the Huskies have come back to earth and played very mediocre basketball. A close win against Quinnipiac and a loss to New Mexico showed that Kevin Ollie’s team still has a lot of work to do. NC State is on the verge of a very disappointing non-conference season already with losses to Oklahoma State and Michigan, and a too-close-for-comfort game against UNC-Asheville. The good news for the Wolfpack is that their offense performed much better against Michigan, shooting almost 60% eFG in the loss. Look to see if they can put together a complete game for the first time this season against a quality opponent. The guard match-ups between UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright and NC State’s Rodney Purvis and Lorenzo Brown should be fun to watch. However, the difference in this one should be the Wolfpack’s frontcourt of C.J. Leslie and T.J. Warren. NC State just has more scoring options across the lineup than the Huskies.

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Big East M5: 11.21.12 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on November 21st, 2012

  1. Just when it looked as though we had some tenuous grasp of the complexion of this year’s Big East, these early-season tournaments rolled around and threw a healthy dose of chaos into the equation. UConn followed its marquee debut win against Michigan State with a loss to New Mexico in the Virgin Islands; Depaul soundly beat by Wichita State in Mexico; Georgetown shocked an oblivious viewing public with a superb performance in Brooklyn, falling short in overtime against the top-ranked team in the nation. Marquette, having had their hearts ripped out when Rotnei Clarke hit the biggest shot of the nascent season, rebounded last night with an emphatic 89-62 win over a reeling Mississippi State team. Marquette blog Paint Touches points out that Vander Blue has shown huge improvement in Maui in his two biggest areas of weakness––outside shooting and patience in the lane. He’s racked up 39 points and hit 5 of 8 three pointers against Butler and MSU. Marquette fans should feel relieved that Blue (11 PPG, 3 RPG) and Davante Gardner (14.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG), the two players widely regarded as wildcards headed into the season, have shined on their way to a 3-1 record.
  2. In a very surprising development, Florida coach Billy Donovan revealed last night that his athletic department has reached out to Georgetown in hopes of arranging a makeup date for the second half of their ill-fated maritime opener on November 9th. While the much-anticipated juggernaut matchup had been abandoned at halftime with no plans to resume, Donovan and AD Jeremy Foley probably feel they could use the RPI injection from a Hoyas team that already has a top-15 win under its belt. Donovan spoke enthusiastically about the possibility of a rematch, identifying a few dates in early January that could work for the Gators: “Both teams agreed to play before the year started. Let’s just play a game and help each other out here.”
  3. Yesterday, St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Steve Eighinger filed a profile on hometown product Cameron Biedscheid, who’s putting together a productive freshman campaign at Notre Dame. The versatile 6’8 forward is averaging 6.3 PPG and has firmly established himself in Mike Brey’s seven-man rotation. The most salient quote from the Biedscheid provides a glimpse of the selfishness and mutual trust that seems to pervade the Irish locker room this year: “Coming in, I knew we had a lot of veteran guys on our roster…I knew just from playing in practice with them that they would have my back out there. I knew they would talk me through everything and make sure that I was doing the right things on the floor.”
  4. Joseph Santoliquito at CBS Philadelphia writes that Villanova’s freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono leads his team in scoring and assists less than a year after surgery to repair a herniated disk cost him his entire senior season. Arcidiacono credits a persistent optimism and healthy sense of detachment as responsible for his incredible recovery: “I never think about my back injury. To me, I never had back surgery. When people ask how my back is doing, I ask, ‘What back?’ The surgery never honestly took place. I had some doubts, but I found out I was strong enough to get through it and get back to where I was.” Jay Wright sees shades of a prolific former point guard in the freshman’s unwavering confidence: “Scottie Reynolds was the same way as a freshman…Reynolds has a record for nine turnovers in a game, but only because he wouldn’t stop after the second or third turnover. He just kept coming, and coming. I think Arch will be the same kind of kid. I think he’ll have some bad nights, but his bad nights will be from trying to do too much, and I like that.” Arcidiacono had the first such night of his young college career yesterday, shooting 3-11 (1-8 from long range) in Villanova’s embarrassing 75-57 home loss to Columbia. It’s no doubt better to gain the instructive perspective of a humbling loss early in the season, and utilize lessons learned once the games gain significance after the New Year.
  5. Lastly, Rick Bozich at the Courier-Journal yesterday published a story about a community-based boarding school in a depressed West Louisville neighborhood that will break ground this week a gym named in honor of Darrell Griffith, UofL’s most famous Doctor of Dunk. “No matter what athletic ability that you have, you’ve got to have an education,” said Griffith, who first dunked a basketball at the defunct Virginia Avenue Elementary School on whose former site the West End School now sits. “You’ve got to find your way in life. And it starts at this level.” Said fellow Cardinal alum Junior Bridgeman, who helped fund the $2 million structure: “If you’re going to hold up someone and say, ‘He’s from here. Look what he became in life and look what he accomplished in life.  It’s not a matter of where you’re from.’ You couldn’t have a better person than Darrell Griffith. It’s great that we can honor him that way. He deserves it and the kids need to know about him.” It’s a profoundly encouraging account of former college athletes taking an active role in community stewardship, and a welcome reprieve from the shallow avarice of conference realignment that’s gripped Louisville this week.
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Night Line: Even in an Off Night, Freshman Arcidiacono Impresses During Villanova Victory

Posted by EJacoby on November 16th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

In what can only be characterized as a chaotic game, Villanova used overtime on Thursday night to defeat Purdue, 89-81, in the second semifinal of the 2kSports Classic in Madison Square Garden. The two teams combined to commit 55 fouls and both shot under 40% from the field in a game that was equal parts sloppy and entertaining due to the back-and-forth play between two young teams. One consistent throughout the night, however, was the playmaking ability displayed by the Wildcats’ freshman starting point guard Ryan Arcidiacono. The 6’3″ guard played the worst game of his early Villanova career yet still scored 18 points with six assists and led all players with 39 minutes played. Missed shots and over-aggressive turnovers plagued him for much of the night, yet he easily made up for his mistakes with complete control of the ‘Nova offense and clutch free throws down the stretch. Like all young players, Arcidiacono will suffer some growing pains but it looks like Jay Wright has found a keeper and a future Big East star in his new point guard.

Freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono has complete command of the Villanova offense (U.S. Presswire)

The rookie guard shot just 3-14 from the field on Thursday while committing seven turnovers, several of which led to easy scores for Purdue in transition. But Arcidiacono’s mistakes were a function of his aggressive mentality, relentlessly seeking to attack weak spots in the defense and create scoring opportunities for himself or his teammates. There’s simply a buzz when the rookie has the ball in his hands, like something good is going to happen for his Wildcats. ‘Arch,’ as coach Wright calls him, has tremendous dribbling skills and one-on-one ability with the ball while constantly keeping his head up to find open teammates when the defense sends help to contain his drives. He has deep range on his shot that keeps defenders honest and good size at 6’3″ to finish in traffic near the rim. His shots weren’t falling on Thursday – he didn’t convert a single field goal in the second half after shooting 3-4 in the first – but he still put pressure on the Boilermakers throughout the night with his command of the offense. And, most importantly on this night, Arch is a fantastic free-throw shooter who rarely misses at the line. He shot 9-10 from the stripe and it was the freshman’s two clutch freebies with 44 seconds to play in regulation that tied the game at 75-75 and sent this one into overtime, where ‘Nova took control in the extra session.

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Big East M5: 11.08.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 8th, 2012

  1. Few can argue with the fact that the job that Buzz Williams has done at Marquette has been incredibly impressive. What’s perhaps the most interesting thing about how he’s gone about building the program is the unique way he’s done it. Where programs like Iowa State and Missouri have plucked large amounts of transfer players from the ever-expanding college basketball waiver wire, Marquette has found many of its best players under Williams in the junior college ranks. Rob Dauster at College Basketball Talk discussed Williams’ unique perspective and relationship with these players, including a large quote from the ever-quotable Williams in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal.  In the days leading up to the Syracuse-Marquette match-up in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, I remember Williams taking the time to tell his own personal story of how he made it to among the highest levels of coaching, and it was among the more impressive things I’ve ever heard. Many are put off by Williams’ histrionics on the sideline (and often, the court), but his incredible story of triumph and love and respect for the game more than overshadow that, for me at least.
  2. One wouldn’t expect Frankfurt, Germany to be a town heavy with Connecticut fans, but a number of UConn fans serving on Ramstein Air Base, the site of Huskies’ upcoming showdown with Michigan State, prove that notion wrong. Kevin Ollie’s squad has received a warm reception at Ramstein, and seem to have done a great job of connecting with the fans serving at the base. In the Hartford Courant article, UConn fan Tony Hodges describes the impact that the game has had on those stationed at Ramstein: “It’s tremendous for the morale… It’s like being home, and it shows that people haven’t forgotten the ones who are stationed far away.”
  3. It’s been a tough year for Villanova basketball, and the hits continued yesterday with the announcement that point guard Ty Johnson would be transferring at the end of the semester. Johnson backed up Maalik Wayns at the position last year and played in every game, starting nine for the Wildcats and finishing second on the team in assists. This offseason, Villanova brought in transfer guard Tony Chennault and freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, who expect to log the majority of the minutes at the point, but I’m sure that Jay Wright would have preferred to keep Johnson for the depth he would provide.
  4. NJ.com‘s Brendan Prunty released his Seton Hall season preview, and did a great job of outlining all things Pirate-basketball. In the piece, Prunty took a look at three possible outcomes for this year’s team: an NCAA Tournament berth, a spot in the NIT, or a “long offseason.” Since the start of the season is now upon us, and that’s reason enough to be optimistic, let’s take a look at the keys for a Seton Hall tournament berth in March: “The other four spots on the floor overshadow the PG hole. Last year, the point guard spot was the strongest on the floor for the Pirates. Jordan Theodore was an all-league player, guiding Seton Hall to the cusp of March Madness. Well, with Theodore graduating and transfer Sterling Gibbs’ hardship waiver not being granted, Willard is forced to put (Aaron) Cosby in that role. Seton Hall’s success though will ride on the rest of the starting rotation — particularly transfers Oliver and Gene Teague and Fuquan Edwin — to pick up the slack.”
  5. It’s a new basketball season and that means it is time for a new Syracuse basketball rap song.  Syracuse has a long history of official team themes, which began in 2009-10 with then assistant coach Rob Murphy’s classic track “Shut it Down”.  Murphy has since left Syracuse to become the head coach at Eastern Michigan, so the basketball team has recruited rapper and Syracuse resident World Be Free to pen this year’s theme – “We Got This”.  If ‘this’ is a repeat of the 2009-10 season, or last year’s 34-3 campaign, I think that most Orange fans will be quite pleased with the result.

Dan Lyons is a writer for Rush The Court’s Big East microsite. He also contributes to Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician and Ultimate Athlete Magazine.  You can find Dan on Twitter @Dan_Lyons76.

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Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #12 Villanova

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 17th, 2012

Once among the most consistent programs in the Big East, Villanova seems to be stuck in a rut.  After an incredibly disappointing 2011-12, which led to the first NCAA Tournament miss for the Wildcats since 2003-04 and a year without any postseason berth since Steve Lappas’ 1997-98 team.  To top things off, Jay Wright lost his two top scorers from last season, and will have to choose between a transfer and a true freshman to run the point for the Wildcats this year.  The Wildcats hope to be one of the Big East’s most surprising teams, but it will have to have everything click right if the Wildcats expect a top-half finish in the conference.

2011-12 Record: 13-19, 5-13

2011-12 Postseason: None

Villanova missed the post-season for the first time in Jay Wright’s tenure in 2011-12. How will the Wildcats rebound this season?

Schedule

After a scrimmage with Carleton University, Villanova opens the regular season with Division II District of Columbia, as a part of the 2K Sports Classic.  The Wildcats host Marshall two nights later before departing to New York for the 2K Classic’s main event.  In the semifinals, Villanova takes on Purdue, followed by the winner of Alabama and Oregon State. Later in the non-conference slate, Villanova travels down to Nashville for a tough road game against Vanderbilt before returning to Philadelphia for Big 5 games against Temple, Penn, and St. Joe’s. In the Big East, Villanova has home-and-home series with Syracuse, USF, Providence, and Pittsburgh.

Who’s In

Two new players should battle it out for the starting point guard spot, as both true freshman Ryan Arcidiacono and junior Wake Forest transfer Tony Chennault look to contribute right away.  Chennault received a hardship waiver from the NCAA and is eligible to play this year after averaging nine points and three assists as the starting point guard for the Demon Deacons. The Wildcats also add 6’10” freshman Daniel Ochefu, who should add some much needed beef inside for the oft-undersized squad, as well as Croatian guard Mislav Brzoja, who is a strong perimeter shooter.

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Big East Summer Capsules: Villanova Wildcats

Posted by mlemaire on July 20th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Villanova.

1. Bidding adieu to Kennedy and saying hello to Chennault.

The Wildcats made two important changes to their roster this summer. The first was officially saying goodbye to sophomore center Markus Kennedy who announced he would transfer, then reportedly reconsidered the decision, then ended up transferring after all. The second was welcoming former Wake Forest point guard Tony Chennault into the fold – the Wildcats also added former Rice guard Dylan Ennis, but he will have to sit out a year before making his Villanova debut. Kennedy showed some promise as a freshman last season, but he expected to be buried on the depth chart and decided to transfer to SMU. The Wildcats will miss the depth, but he wasn’t expected to make much of an impact this season anyway. The more important move is the arrival of Chennault, a Philadelphia native who received an NCAA waiver because of his mother’s health issues to play right away. Chennault averaged 9.2 PPG and 2.8 APG for the Demon Deacons before transferring and his arrival will be a huge boon for the Wildcats who lost starting guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek to the draft. Chennault may not become the same type of scorer Wayns was, but he should get every opportunity to start and instantly becomes the most experienced guard on the roster, so there is no doubt that Jay Wright is happy to have him.

2. Are the Wildcats starting from scratch?

Jay Wright Has His Work Cut Out For Him Rebuilding The Program

That is the question that the Philadelphia Daily News posed earlier this month in a long article and interview with ‘Nova head coach Jay Wright. Last season was an unmitigated disaster, and say what you want about Wayns and Cheek, but they would have been valuable players to have this season. There is still a lot of talent on campus and more talent coming in time for this season, but this team hardly stacks up against some of the best teams Wright has assembled in the last five years. Wright acknowledges that his team has a lot of work to do before it can again achieve the success their fans have grown accustomed to recently, but he also thinks the program has built up enough credibility that a rebound can happen quickly. It will likely depend on how quickly freshmen Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu can become impact contributors and whether or not mercurial sophomore Tyrone Johnson can make the leap and become a consistent playmaker. Down the road it will depend on whether Wright can continue to land high-profile recruits, the types that helped the Wildcats make the Elite Eight and Final Four in recent years.

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