Saturday, March 21, 2009

Six Wildcats Reach Double Figures As #3 Villanova Wallops #6 UCLA Bruins, 89-69, in NCAA Tournament 2nd Round!!! (initial recap)

To the Villanova Wildcats faithful!!!-

The third-seeded Wildcats walloped the sixth-seeded UCLA Bruins, 89-69, on Saturday afternoon, March 21, at the Wachovia Center. Six Wildcats reached double figures, as Villanova will make its second consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 (and fourth in five years...)

This is, of course, just the immediate recap... the full recap will be along as soon as possible...

It was the first time that the Villanova Wildcats and UCLA Bruins had battled in the NCAA tournament in 38 years. The only other occasion was the 1971 national championship game, in which John Wooden's seven-year dynasty withstood a tough challenge from Jack Kraft's Wildcats, losing 68-62 at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

This was only the second round, but Villanova was able to return the favor, nearly four decades later. These UCLA Bruins were trying to return to the Final Four for the fourth consecutive season. And Villanova - most decidedly - ensured that it wouldn't happen. It also prevented the Bruins from tying Kentucky, at the century mark in NCAA tournament wins - the win over Virginia Commonwealth was the program's 99th in its uniquely storied history.

With Coach Kraft and many of the 1971 Wildcats in attendance, the 2009 Wildcats absolutely dismantled the Pac-10 runner-up UCLA Bruins, with shocking ease. It was difficult to believe that this was the same team that trailed #14 American University by 14 points at one point in the second half, and which was still playing from behind deep into that second half.

The Wildcats have now advanced to the Sweet 16, where they will face either #2 Duke or #7 Texas (the latter of whom they played earlier this season), in Boston.

UCLA looked dreadful, as the Bruins ended their season well short of a fourth Final Four, as the game was never even remotely competitive. The team that came in did not look like the Pac-10 runner-up, but the team that fell at home to Washington State in late February.

Looking at the Box Score

Six Wildcats reached double figures:
  1. Dante Cunningham, following up his huge performance against American on Thursday, turned in another double-double today: 18 points on 7-11 shooting, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. That would be a great day even with normal playing time. But Cunningham picked up two quick fouls early in the first half, and played just 24 minutes.
  2. Dwayne Anderson, his fellow senior standout, also played superbly. Although nobody expected him to match his career-high of 25 points on Thursday, Anderson also had a double-double: 10 points (although on 4-14 shooting), 11 rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
  3. Reggie Redding continued his renaissance. The junior guard and "glue guy", the term by which Jay Bilas quoted Jay Wright as referring to Redding as someone who helps the team win, simply did it all (to borrow the Dick Vitale-an phrase) today: 13 points (on 4-8 shooting), six rebounds, seven assists, and four steals (the only downside being four turnovers).
  4. Scottie Reynolds returned to reasonable form today, after really struggling recently. Reynolds finished with 11 points (on 4-9 shooting, 2-6 from three-point range), one assist and no turnovers.
  5. Off the bench, both Coreys made significant impacts on the contest. Fisher, despite playing in foul trouble (he finished with four), packed an enormous offensive punch for the Wildcats today. He added 13 points on 4-7 shooting (including 4-4 from the line), three rebounds, five assists against no turnovers, and a steal in 25 minutes of action.
  6. Stokes saw 23 minutes, and he made the most of them. Nine of his ten field goal attempts were triples, and he knocked down four of them, ending up with a dozen points. He added three rebounds, an assist, and a turnover.
The only Wildcats who didn't reach double figures were Shane Clark and Antonio Pena (plus Colenda, Russell Wooten, and Tchuisi, of course). But Clark played very well. Playing just 16 minutes, Clark had eight points on 4-7 shooting, plus four rebounds, an assist, a steal, and no turnovers. (Had he seen a few more minutes, Clark could possibly have been the seventh Wildcat in double figures.)

Pena saw some time due to Cunningham's foul trouble, and also replaced Cunningham at garbage time, in order to give Cunningham a tribute from the Philadelphia crowd, seeing him live for the last time (except for those lucky few able to get tickets in Boston for the Sweet 16). Pena logged 10 minutes, scored two points on 2-4 FTs, missed one shot, had an offensive rebound and committed a turnover.

Colenda had the only box score number of the trio of practice players, as he made two free throws and bagged a rebound. All three played one minute.

Looking at the UCLA side of the box score...

Three Bruins, Josh Shipp, Darren Collison, and Nikola Dragovic- reached double figures. Shipp had 18 points on 5-9 shooting, including 7-7 from the line, and Collison had 15 points on 4-10 shooting. But Collison did not manage the ball well, committing five turnovers against one assist.

Dragovic had 11 points, and played through foul trouble, finishing with four fouls and 27 minutes of action. He played very well, going 4-7 from the floor and hitting three of his six three-point attempts. He also added five rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot, as well as two turnovers.

Alfred Aboya got into foul trouble early and played just 22 minutes, but he still almost had a double-double, with nine points and eight rebounds.

Freshman Jrue Holiday was held to just four points on 1-6 shooting, although he dealt seven assists against four turnovers.

The most significant numbers, looking at the teams as a whole, were rebounds and turnovers. Villanova annihilated UCLA on the glass, outrebounding the Bruins 39-26 (and on the offensive end, 15 to 7, with Cunningham pulling down five offensive boards alone). Villanova also forced 18 turnovers while committing 11.

In what was really the only negative aspect of today for a Wildcats fan-

CBS - undoubtedly kicking itself for scheduling a single game in the early afternoon, which turned out to be lopsided - deprived the Philadelphia market of the final 1:18 of the game, in which Frank Tchuisi and walk-ons Russell Wooten and Jason Colenda entered the game to a huge ovation. And Colenda even connected on a pair of free throws in the final minute.

Right when Greg Gumbel interrupted the broadcast, Frank Tchuisi was approaching the scorer's table, at 3:18 EDT, CBS cut away to show the opening moments of #2 Memphis/#10 Maryland. CBS does a fantastic job in its coverage of the tournament, but it really dropped the ball here. The Philadelphia market should - absolutely and without question - have seen the conclusion of the game in its entirety.

This is just my initial recap - a more complete recap will come later, so keep checking back. You can also take a look at the Various Viewpoints on the right sidebar, for their takes...

Go Wildcats!

There are two ways you can contact Villanova Viewpoint. One is by commenting on this blog. Comments are encouraged. Also, you can e-mail (Important note: This is a different e-mail address than before. Please use this new one.)


Anonymous said...

1. Great victory. We'll remember this one along with victories over G'town ('85 tourney), Penn ('71 tourney), and UConn ('95 - twice). OK, this wasn't a UCLA team for the ages, but it was nice to repay them on national television for the pasting they gave us at Pauley Pavilion in 2001.

2. This is one of our truly memorable teams. Didn't think it would be at beginning of year, but the numbers are impressive: this team ties the VU record for most wins in a season (28) and the seniors have won 100 games, more than any other graduating class.

3. Set the tone early when Scottie took down a Bruin on a breakaway. We were tough the entire game.

4. Great to see Jack Kraft there with his great '71 team and Rollie. Not sure how many of Rollie's '85 team were on hand. Jack should turn to Jay for some sartorial advice; start with no green blazers.

5. Everyone contributed. Total team effort. Several double-doubles, led, I think by Cunningham and Anderson. Terrific contributions across the board from Shane, Reggie, Corey 1 & 2, and Antonio.

6. Nice to see us put two terrific halves together. Have to keep that up; the next lapse and we go home.

7. Nice job coach! It's also a good idea to have an assistant kiss sweaty players for a job well done!


Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, Seamus-

Thanks for the detailed commentary. Your points in turn:

1. I agree that the UCLA win yesterday ranks among the best NCAA victories in school history, even though it's not the Wooden-era Bruins (but that's about a high standard as one can find...)

2. This is already a year for the record books, and I think it would have been even had the team not had a deep run in the NCAAs. It's a real tribute to the class of 2009...

3. I disagree on that - I think that Reynolds should have let him go, that it was a borderline intentional foul on a breakaway...

4. Awesome to see Jack Kraft there, with so many former players from the 1971 team (Tom Inglesby, etc.) I also noticed the green jacket - either from St. Patrick's Day or the Masters...

5. It was great to see the team really hit on all cylinders... especially after the game against American...

Anonymous said...

On Reynolds putting his body on the line and taking down the UCLA player:

When it happened, I thought "that wasn't necessary," but then I had second thoughts after Cunningham put another guy down, a minute or two later.

It was clear our guys were sending a signal. Dante himself mentioned these two plays in post game comments as a message to UCLA that "This is the way this game is going to be played. We are going to beat on you for 40 minutes."

It may have happened before, but I don't remember reading of opposing players complaining about hard fouls. I would think at collegiate level, a player would be embarrassed to complain to a referee about that, particularly when mumbling through a split lip.

So, I think it definitely sent a message -- and the message was received. The LA Times stories describe a thoroughly demoralized UCLA team that knew they had let the 'Cats dictate the game.

I sat in Pauley years ago and listened to UCLA fans taunt our team with "Who's your daddy?" Now we have an answer!