This is the second half of the Frank Tchuisi Senior Farewell, in which I'll be discussing his arrival, freshman, and sophomore seasons...
Here are the previous entries, as I recapped Tchuisi's arrival and freshman and sophomore campaigns, as well as Shane Clark's Villanova tenure:
- Clark's arrival and freshman year, after originally signing a letter of intent to attend Maryland - as well as his sophomore year... and junior year... and finally, his senior year...
Frank Tchuisi's Junior Season - 2007-08
Tchuisi's playing time significantly diminished as a junior, which is somewhat surprising, given that the Wildcats squad wasn't as formidable as those of his first two seasons. Villanova had to endure a very arduous March, leading up to and including Selection Sunday, before making it (probably as the last team included) as a #12 seed. The team went on to make a surprise Sweet 16 run, reaching that round for the third time in four years.
Tchuisi had played 35 minutes as a sophomore, in 13 games; the following year, he made only nine appearances and logged only 13 minutes. His numbers for the season:
- 1/6 from the floor, no three-point attempts, 1/4 from the foul line, finishing with 3 points, an average of 0.3 points/game.
- Six rebounds, four of them on the offensive end, averaging 0.7 rebounds/game.
- Two personal fouls, no assists, no turnovers, no steals, one blocked shot.
Tchuisi played in all three NCAA tournament games: the two victories over #5 Clemson and #13 Siena, plus the crushing defeat by #1 Kansas, the eventual national champion. This was of great significance, because he hadn't gotten on to the floor, during either the 2006 or 2007 NCAA tournaments, despite the fact that Villanova had played five games in those tournaments (including one against overmatched #16 Monmouth, against whom Tchuisi undoubtedly should have seen action.)
Game by game:
- His best game, by far, was against Penn, the first game in which he appeared. He played five minutes, scoring a basket, missing a pair of free throws, had a defensive rebound, and committed a foul.
- One minute against Hartford - one rebound.
- One minute against Georgetown - no entries.
- One minute against St. John's - one missed field goal.
- Two minutes against West Virginia - one rebound, one blocked shot, one foul.
- Three minutes against South Florida - 0/3 from the floor, 1/2 from the line, an offensive rebound.
- Clemson in the first round of the NCAA tournament - 0+ minutes, no entries.
- Siena in the second round - one minute, 0-1 from the floor, one offensive and one defensive rebound.
- Kansas in the Sweet 16 - 0+ minutes, no entries.
The 2008-09 Villanova Wildcats media guide described Tchuisi this way:
"Brings raw tools and a desire to learn... Gives great effort in practice and is slowly absorbing nuances of the game... A quality shot-blocker and rebounder... A quiet leader on this club."At the end of the season, as the Wildcats prepared to face North Carolina in the Final Four on April 4, Tchuisi had played far more as a senior, than he had during any of his previous years at Villanova. Looking at the numbers (senior year first, then previous years combined):
- Appeared in 23 games as a senior, as opposed to 30 games.
- Logged 78 minutes - as opposed to 59 minutes. His minutes/game zoomed from just under 2 to 3.4.
- Scored 21 points, averaging 0.9/game - opposed to 8 points (0.3/game).
- Grabbed 16 rebounds, five on the offensive end, 0.7/game - opposed to 13 (0.4/game).
- Went 7/17 from the floor, 41.2% - compared to 2/11, 18.2%; he never took a three-point shot as a Wildcat.
- Went 7/13 from the line, 53.8% - compared to 4/8, 50%.
- Committed 14 fouls, one turnover, had no assists, four blocks and a steal - compared to eight fouls, two turnovers, one assist, four blocks, and a steal.
- On November 14, against Albany, Tchuisi set a new career-high with 11 minutes played. (Consider, that during his junior year, Tchuisi had played a grand total of 13 minutes during the entire season.) He scored two points on 1/4 shooting, went 0-1 from the line, grabbed three defensive rebounds (also a career-high), committed two fouls, and blocked two shots.
- Three days later, against Fordham, Tchuisi set yet another career-high with 14 minutes, as well as a career-high four points on 2/3 shooting, plus two misses from the line, two fouls, and one rebound.
- Two days later against Niagara - five minutes, no points, one rebound.
- Monmouth - eight minutes, two points.
- Towson - eight minutes, three points, and a career-high five rebounds.
- Rhode Island - two minutes.
- Penn - four minutes, two rebounds.
- Houston Baptist - six minutes, one point, one rebound.
- La Salle - one minute, two points.
Of course, the highlight of Tchuisi's season was the atypically early Senior Night festivities at the Pavilion on Feb. 19, against Rutgers. That evening, Tchuisi made the first and only start of his career as a Villanova Wildcat. The fans and students - who have always loved Tchuisi - gave him a huge ovation as he was introduced - and which he totally deserved.
He made the most of his time on the floor, committing two fouls in his two minutes, before he was removed by Jay Wright - to yet another ovation from the Pavilion crowd.
He didn't get into any of the Big East tournament games, or the victory over #14 American in the NCAA first round (probably because American had a double-digit lead in the second half). He did play one minute, in the victory over UCLA in the second round.
While in the Sweet 16 victory over #2 Duke, Tchuisi got in for only one minute - but scored four points and pulled down an offensive rebound. That final minute was one of the most satisfying for avid Villanova fans, knowing as we did about Tchuisi, who deserved great accolades for his contribution to the Villanova Wildcats' first Final Four in 24 years.
Unfortunately, he did not get into the glorious victory over #1 Pittsburgh in the Elite Eight (which was understandable, given the seesaw battle and Scottie Reynolds' legendary shot at the buzzer). But I was appalled that Tchuisi did not get into the Final Four loss to North Carolina the following weekend. The Wildcats were never really in the game, and the Tar Heels had a commanding lead throughout the second half.
Accordingly, Wright absolutely should have put Tchuisi and Jason Colenda into the game. As a result, I was very disappointed in Wright's judgment, as reflected in his decision, which prevented Tchuisi and Colenda from knowing for the rest of their lives, that they had played in a Final Four. In a magical, memorable season, Wright's decision not to put them in the game - during garbage time, no less - was completely indefensible. It is one of the few aspects of this season that was disappointing.
But looking at the bright side, Tchuisi did have the opportunity, to walk off the NCAA tournament stage, so to speak, by scoring four points against Duke (in a single minute!) in the Sweet 16 in a lopsided Villanova victory over the Blue Devils in Boston. So his career had a fitting ending.
Congratulations to Tchuisi, who carried on the tradition of humble, dedicated practice players. He received a leadership award, according to VUHoops's story on the basketball banquet, which he richly deserved. Best of luck to him!
UPDATE: An anonymous commenter, below, helpfully noted that Coach Wright had honored Tchuisi, in the following way, after the glorious victory over Pitt in the Elite Eight, in this Inquirer article... I also replied to his comment, below, noting that Wright's acknowledgment of Tchuisi provides a better picture of how much Tchuisi is appreciated by Wright, the staff, and his fellow Wildcats... So thanks to that commenter for providing the link... a couple of pullout quotes from the article..
One strand of the net remained on the rim, one last chance in Villanova's victorious net-cutting ritual at the TD Banknorth Garden for a player to snip it, triumphantly hold it in the air, and wear it around his neck as a wreath of honor.
The honor went not to Scottie Reynolds, the hero of the game, nor to Dante Cunningham. It went to Frank Tchuisi.
Yes, the 6-foot-8 senior forward from Cameroon, who played only 78 minutes in 23 games and scored just 21 points all season, was the final player up on the ladder Saturday after the Wildcats' dramatic 78-76 victory over Pitt, which got them to the Final Four.
That, however, was just fine with his teammates and coach Jay Wright...
That's the mark Tchuisi (pronounced TWEE-zee) has left on the Wildcats, and why his teammates never forget to mention him when discussing senior leadership on the team as if he played as much as the three other seniors...
Of course, check back for the latest posts in the Senior Farewell series, in which I'll be looking back at the Villanova tenures of both the other departing Wildcats...
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