Saturday, December 30, 2006

Villanova Closes Out 2006 By Thrashing Temple, 83-65, at Pavilion

by Craig Dimitri

Villanova closed out 2006 with an easy City Series victory over Temple, the first time the Wildcats have met the Owls with former Penn coach Fran Dunphy at the helm. The Wildcats had no trouble defeating the Owls, 83-65, on Saturday night at the Pavilion, where Temple has not won since 1990.

Villanova improved to 3-0 City Series, and has a great chance to - ironically - sweep the City Series while simultaneously losing to Drexel, a feat which I doubt has ever been accomplished. Overall, the Wildcats raised their record to 10-2, while Temple fell to 6-5 overall. It won't get any easier for the Owls, who have to face #5 Duke - at Cameron Indoor Stadium - later this week.

Curtis Sumpter led the way for Villanova, coming up with another huge game: 22 points and posting a career-high with 14 boards. Mike Nardi contributed 17 points as well. For Temple, Christmas came five days late to the Pavilion, as Owl Dionte Christmas led the Owls with 22 points, with Mark Tyndale adding 16.

This was Villanova's 10th consecutive victory in City Series play, as they swept the Big Five last season. They also now hold a one-game edge over Temple in the all-time rivalry between the two Philadelphia schools, 40-39. Only St. Joseph's, whom Villanova will not face until February, stands in the way of Villanova sweeping the Big Five once more, to repeat as City Series champions (albeit with the annoyance of losing to Drexel for the first time ever).

Questions? Comments? Information? You can contact Craig Dimitri at

Saturday, December 23, 2006

In Maiden Trip to La Salle's Tom Gola Arena, Villanova Eventually Sinks Explorers, 64-51

by Craig Dimitri

Villanova made its first expedition to the Explorers' small on-campus venue, Tom Gola Arena - and came away victorious - its fifth straight victory over La Salle. The Wildcats prevailed, 64-51, in its City Series opener - its ninth straight victory in City Series play, after sweeping the Big Five last season. The Wildcats improved to 9-2 overall, while La Salle fell to 6-3.

Three Wildcats reached double figures: Curtis Sumpter with 13 points, Mike Nardi with a dozen, and Scottie Reynolds added 11. For La Salle, Rodney Green and Darnell Harris each scored a dozen points. Of some concern for the Wildcats is that La Salle outrebounded them 41-29.

The Explorers were down as many as 19 points in the first half and never led at any point, although the game was competitive. La Salle trailed by 11 at halftime, but tied the score at 41 at the 14:52 mark. Moreover, they trailed just 54-51, with only 3:15 remaining, before Villanova was able to put some distance between them and the Explorers. It was Villanova's lowest scoring output of the season thus far.

It wasn't pretty, but in City Series play (especially in a tiny venue where Villanova had never played previously), any victory is worth having. After a week-long respite for the holidays, the Wildcats return to the Pavilion on Saturday, December 30, for another City Series opponent, Temple.

Questions? Comments? Information? You can contact Craig Dimitri at

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

No Holiday Cheer at Pavilion for Visiting Rider: Villanova Blasts Broncos, 108-61

by Craig Dimitri

There was no cheer for the Rider Broncos at the Pavilion on Wednesday, December 20. Stung by their unprecedented loss to Drexel in their previous game at the Pavilion - and with eleven days to brood over it - the Wildcats utterly routed Rider, 108-61.

Six Wildcats reached double figures. Curtis Sumpter led the Wildcats with 22 points, but it was a team effort to reach that lofty total of 108 points. And in an interesting statistical pattern - Dante Cunningham had 14 points, Will Sheridan 13, Dwayne Anderson 12, Mike Nardi 11, and Shane Clark 10 (each player having one less point than the one before him). Clark also had a double-double with a career-high dozen rebounds. The Wildcats improved their record to 8-2, while Rider fell to 6-4. For the Broncos, Terrance Mouton led with 16 points.

Villanova's next contest will be its first-ever voyage to La Salle's Tom Gola Arena, where they will take on City Series rival La Salle on Saturday, December 23.

Questions? Comments? Information? You can contact Craig Dimitri at

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Drexel Downs Villanova For First Time EVER, as Dragons Scorch Wildcats, 81-76, at Pavilion

Villanova had faced Drexel 17 times, in a series which began in 1924, prior to Saturday night, December 9. On all 17 occasions, the Wildcats had defeated the Dragons. However, the 18th time proved to be the charm for Drexel, as they scorched Villanova at the Pavilion, 81-76, to bring back to University City, for the first time, a victory over the Wildcats. (It was only Drexel's second shot at Villanova since 1990; Jay Wright was once an assistant there, and that may explain why Drexel has had two chances since he took over for the 2001-02 season.)

Curtis Sumpter had a stellar game, scoring 31 points and grabbing 1o rebounds for a remarkable double-double, but he couldn't do it alone. For Drexel, Bashir Mason led the way with 21 points, and Frank Elegar had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Drexel took the lead for good when Elegar broke a 71-71 tie, scoring off an offensive rebound, with 4:12 to play.

Drexel improved to 6-2; Villanova fell to 7-2.

Unfortunately, the Wildcats will now have 11 days to brood over this defeat, while they contend with exams. Their next contest will be hosting Rider at the Pavilion on Wednesday, December 20.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Reynolds, Villanova Slam Sooners, 67-51, Ending OU's 49-Game Home Winning Streak Vs. Nonconference Opponents, Which Dated Back to the 20th Century!

by Craig Dimitri

On Wednesday, December 6, with ESPN's national cameras rolling, Villanova became the first non-Big XII team to win at Norman, Oklahoma, in the 21st century! The last one to previously achieve the feat, was a #4-ranked Cincinnati squad, which defeated the Sooners on December 22, 1999, at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Moreover, it was not just a victory, but a resounding victory for Villanova, which brought home a 16-point victory, 67-51. The Wildcats capitalized on 15 OU first-half turnovers, en route to a 36-25 halftime advantage, and never looked back. The Sooners would ultimately turn over the ball 24 times, their worst of the season thus far.

However, the key story line for the game was not the demise of the 49-game streak, or the rematch between two schools that had been ranked in the top 5 last season - it was Scottie Reynolds. Reynolds - a highly touted McDonald's All-American recruit - had originally signed to play for former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson - who then abruptly decided to leave after the 2005-06 season, to replace Mike Davis at Indiana. As a result, Reynolds insisted on being released from his letter of intent, which OU granted. Oklahoma's loss was Villanova's gain, as Reynolds has been a spark plug all year (and is likely a better fit at Villanova, since he is from metropolitan Washington, than he would have been out at Norman.)

The OU crowd booed Reynolds whenever he touched the ball, and cheered when he was knocked to the floor after being fouled by OU's Taylor Griffin. But Reynolds had his revenge: he finished in double figures (10 points) and helped VU to a victory over new OU coach Jeff Capel's squad - which was paced by 19 points from freshman Tony Crocker, a career-high for him, and a dozen points from Longar Longar.

The keys for Villanova, outside of the Reynolds saga: Mike Nardi scored 23 points, a season-high for him, while converting eight of his first ten shots. Curtis Sumpter once again provided some offense, scoring 14 points and hitting back-to-back triples to break a Villanova scoring drought in the second half, helping the Wildcats to pull away.

Villanova improved to 7-1; Oklahoma fell to 4-3. The victory marked a sweep of the intersectional home-and-home series; last season, Villanova defeated top-5 Oklahoma at the Pavilion, in one of the most thrilling games in Pavilion history, called by Dick Vitale. The reason why it was so memorable: ordinarily, games of that caliber would be at the Wachovia Center. But fortunately, with the Wachovia Center hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, 'Nova could only play three home games there - and so as a result, 'Nova students had the thrill of cheering on the 'Cats on campus, to a victory over a top-5 opponent.

The Wildcats will now return home to face Drexel at the Pavilion - a team which has never defeated Villanova.

Questions? Comments? Information? You can contact Craig Dimitri at

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Villanova Wins City Series Opener at Palestra, Topping Penn, 99-89; VU Makes 1st 23 FTs

by Craig Dimitri

The Wildcats took on the Penn Quakers at the glorious Palestra on Saturday night, and it was a good outcome for Villanova - the Wildcats triumphed 99-89. In a remarkable feat, the Wildcats converted the first 23 free throws they attempted, a major reason why they just missed the century mark. They also forced 25 Penn turnovers, 17 of which came during the first half.

Four Wildcats reached double figures - Curtis Sumpter (28 points), Mike Nardi (19 points), Shane Clark (16 points), and Scottie Reynolds (11 points). For Penn, Mark Zoller, a graduate of St. Joseph's Prep (as is VU freshman Reggie Redding), scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Quakers.

Villanova improved to 1-0 City Series, 6-1 overall, while Penn fell to 0-1 City Series, 4-3 overall. The Wildcats will now travel to Norman, Oklahoma, to face the nationally-ranked Sooners on Wednesday, December 6.

Questions? Comments? Information? You can contact Craig Dimitri at