Thursday, July 09, 2009

Dwayne Anderson's Senior Season - Marquette and More - Villanova Wildcat Senior Farewell

To the Villanova Wildcats faithful-

Today I will finish the series on Dwayne Anderson. His remarkable growth and development, during his final two years at Villanova, are a great testament to him and to the coaching staff under Jay

At the end of his sophomore year, Anderson wasn't even playing- let alone starting. Two years later, Anderson was receiving invitations to NBA tryout camps. He was not projected to be drafted in either round, and he was not. But the mere fact that he was even invited, is a great honor to him, as he prepares to presumably play overseas, as do most Villanova Wildcats...

Previous entries in the Anderson series:

Dwayne Anderson's Junior Year...
Dwayne Anderson's Arrival, Freshman, and Sophomore Years...

Dwayne Anderson's Senior Season and Departure - Marquette and More

Anderson's Heroics In The Victory over Marquette in the Big East Tournament

Back on March 12, Anderson had already secured himself a place in Villanova's storied March Madness history, by doing the following... Here is how I put it at the time, in-

Anderson, Redding Team Up for Winning, Rattling Layup at Buzzer, as #4 Villanova Escapes #5 Marquette, 76-75, in Big East Tournament!!! (Full Recap)

Dwayne Anderson made the biggest basket of his career, on the biggest assist of Reggie Redding's career, as the basketball gods permitted Anderson's layup - after a lengthy, agonizing rattle (and "rattle" is the only term that could describe it) around the rim at Madison Square Garden... and #4 Villanova advanced to the semifinals of the Big East tournament, stealing a 76-75 victory from #5 Marquette.

The shot will immediately be ranked as among the most exciting buzzer-beaters in Villanova's 29 Big East tournaments, and the sight of that ball finally dropping through the net just after the buzzer, will never be forgotten by anyone in attendance this afternoon, whether they were fans of Villanova or Marquette...

Within the blue-and-white Villanova partisans at the Garden, a sea of euphoria erupted
You can click on the title above, or here, for the full recap...

In any other season, the thrilling finish to the Marquette game would have been - far and away - the most memorable and exciting. Since Villanova was already assured of a high NCAA bid regardless of the outcome, and Marquette is a very recently arrived rival, its significance in the long-term was not as great, however.

And naturally, none of us - including the Wildcats and their coaching staff - had any idea that there would be a Final Four appearance, or that Scottie Reynolds's layup finishing the Elite Eight victory over Pittsburgh, would go down in NCAA history, as among the most stunning finishes in the annals of the tournament.

So Anderson's layup to sink Marquette may be overshadowed - much in the same way as he was overshadowed as a senior by Dante Cunningham, his fellow Class of 2009 member and good friend. Their friendship goes all the way back to high school basketball in Silver Spring, Maryland, where both are from, although they played for different schools- Anderson for St. Thomas More, and Cunningham for Potomac.

Anderson's Senior Season, Pre-Marquette

The Villanova media guide's profile of Anderson, heading into this season, contained the following excerpts:

Emerged as a vital component in Villanova's surge to the Sweet 16 in 2007-08... Brings leadership, toughness, and athletic ability to the wing... A solid defender capable of guarding a wide range of opponents...

Started the final 14 games of the regular season... and helped ignite Villanova's run to the NCAA Tournament... The Wildcats were 9-5 with Anderson in the starting lineup and he averaged 9.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in those starts...
At the end of the season, the official site noted this fact about Anderson-
A fixture in Villanova's late season success in 2008 and '09 ... Emerged as a cornerstone leader of teams that advanced to the Sweet 16 (2008) and Final Four (2009)... Played some of the best basketball of his career in the BIG EAST and NCAA Tournaments ... Averaged 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament.
It's an accurate assessment. Anderson missed the opening seven games of his senior campaign due to injury, but he returned at full strength - fortunately. Had Anderson's injury been more severe and he had consequently been unavailable this season, it's very likely that Villanova would not have been a #3 seed- or a Final Four participant.

Anderson's most conspicuous contribution to the NCAA tournament run came in the game that most endangered Villanova's presence in the tournament - the victory over American University in the first round.

It remains one of the richest ironies of a remarkable season, that Villanova's toughest NCAA victory, of their four triumphs, came against a #14 seed on one of its home courts, the Wachovia Center in South Philadelphia - while its victories over UCLA and Duke were blowouts.

While Pittsburgh was a far more formidable opponent than American, it should not be forgotten that Villanova was always in the game against the Panthers - and that they were not against the American Eagles, despite the deceptive final margin of 13 points. As I wrote at the time in-

NCAA First Round - #3 Villanova, Anderson Ascend Beyond #14 American Eagles, 80-67- After Trailing by 14 in 2nd Half (Part 1)

#3 Villanova avoided a stunning upset by a gallant #14 American squad on Thursday, overcoming a 14-point second-half deficit to cruise down the stretch for an 80-67 victory, that was far more harrowing for a Villanova fan, than the score would indicate. Dwayne Anderson scored a career-high 25 points, matched by Dante Cunningham's 25, to power the Wildcats into the second round.
Anderson did well against UCLA as well, two days later. He ended up recording a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the easy second-round victory over the #6 Bruins.

Nor were Anderson's impressive numbers limited to March Madness. His finest regular-season game as a senior probably came on February 4 against Providence, when he also notched a double-double in the Wildcats victory, with 19 points and 10 rebounds. His career-high in rebounds was 15, also attained as a senior, against Seton Hall on January 6. The official site notes that the 15 boards were "the top rebounding performance by a Wildcat this season."

The official site goes on to note that Anderson finished tied for the lead in steals with 47, reached double figures in points 11 times, and in rebounds, four times. He had an outstanding season at the line, converting 81.1% of his opportunities. He also made a significant impact with his shooting accuracy, hitting a superb 46% of his shots from the floor and 32.3% from three-point range.

Anderson brought a fine mix of rebounding, shooting accuracy, and steals to the floor, and his role as a starter on one of Villanova's most storied teams - its fourth squad to reach a Final Four- will assure him of being remembered. He went from being a possible transfer candidate after his sophomore to season, to being a key starter during the stunning run to Detroit as a senior. Congratulations to him, and best of luck to him in the future...

Go Wildcats!

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 the final departing Wildcat - Dante Cunningham, who was the third pick of the second round by the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. The Anderson, Frank Tchuisi, and Shane Clark series are now completed...

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


Anonymous said...

Good luck Dwayne. I don't know that you were a scholar, but you were certainly a gentleman throughout your career on the Main Line. We were all proud to see you in a Villanova uniform. You and your family made our university a better place.


Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, Seamus-

Thanks for the comment. Anderson, I believe, will be remembered as an important cog on both a Sweet 16 and a Final Four appearance, and his play during March Madness (especially in this year's tournament was a very significant part of that...

Go Wildcats!