Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Villanova Big East Tournament History - Part 5 - The Start of the Lappas Era

To the Wildcat faithful-

Here is Part 4 of the
Villanova Big East Tournament History... and here are the links to Part 1...and Part 2... and Part 3... and Part 4 is below this post...

Keep checking back for frequent, new installments, as this week, I chronicle all 28 Big East tournaments in which Villanova has participated... and there will be a preview of fourth-seeded Villanova's Thursday afternoon quarterfinal game against either #5 Marquette or #13 St. John's, the latter defeating Georgetown yesterday.... The Golden Eagles clash with the Red Storm at 2 PM or so on Wednesday afternoon...

Part 5 - The Start of the Lappas Era


This was unquestionably the worst Villanova team in the Big East era, before or since. In the first season under Steve Lappas, Rollie’s former assistant and most recently the coach at Manhattan, the team nosedived to a 3-15 finish in conference play. It finished alone in 10th place, by far the worst record and finish since joining the conference a dozen years earlier. In the second-ever #7-#10 game, Boston College mercifully ended the campaign with a 79-74 victory, dropping the Wildcats to 8-19. This was probably one of only two years in Villanova’s 28 tournaments, where the Wildcats entered the Big East tournament with no meaningful hope of possibly winning it. The Wildcats missed postseason play for the first time in the Big East era.


This was the first year of the 1990s renaissance on the Main Line, as the Wildcats made their greatest single-season improvement in conference history, before or since. It was also one of the best year-to-year revivals in school history, even reaching back to the beginning of Villanova’s storied history. The team was led by the nucleus of Kerry Kittles, Jason Lawson, Alvin Williams, Eric Eberz, Jonathan Haynes, and Chuck Kornegay, one of the best core groups to ever play at Villanova.

After finishing 3-15 and dead last, the Wildcats rocketed to a 10-8 record and a fourth-place tie. The #5 Wildcats lost to #4 Providence in the quarterfinals, though, the second straight year they had lost their first game in New York, and they were not able to secure an at-large NCAA bid.

Villanova did the best they could, though – they won the NIT for the first time ever, making them one of a rare elite of programs who have won both major tournaments. After dispatching Canisius, Duquesne, and Xavier, the Wildcats returned to Madison Square Garden and defeated Siena and Vanderbilt to take home the trophy.

Check back for subsequent installments... Part 6 - 1995: Big East Tournament Champions! coming up soon...

Go Wildcats!

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