Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Blizzard of 2010 Snows in Washington, #2 Wildcats, As #7 Georgetown Avalanches Wildcats, 103-90

To the Wildcat faithful-

The Blizzard of 2010 will, of course, primarily be remembered as the unprecedented snowfall that blanketed the nation's capital, one for the record books.  

But for both Villanova and Georgetown fans, there will also be "The Blizzard Game", when the two ancient programs, separated by Blue Route and Beltway, were both ranked in the top seven, nationally. 

A surprisingly large segment of #7 Georgetown's fan base braved the howling winds and vicissitudes of winter, in order to see their Hoyas take on the #2 Wildcats, in person.  Reports had indicated that the Blizzard of 2010 would nearly paralyze the nation's capital.  But I place great emphasis on "nearly".  Georgetown had sold over 20,000 tickets, and a sizable number of those fans showed up.

Clearly, John Thompson III and the Hoya players were grateful for their loyalty and support... and likely didn't want to disappoint them.  Well, they didn't.
The Hoyas clobbered the visiting Wildcats, 103-90, in a game which took well over two hours to complete.  Also, it was far less competitive, than the somewhat-respectable final score would indicate.

I would encourage you to visit the Georgetown blog Casual Hoya, in which a photo of the snow-laden scene today has the best, single-sentence caption, which summarized the game:
"It was snowing a lot today.  Georgetown won."
The day had gotten off to an inauspicious start for the Wildcats, according to ESPN analyst Doris Burke.  During the broadcast, Burke said that Herndon, Va. resident Scottie Reynolds and one of his teammates (I'm not sure which one), Antonio Pena, and a graduate student manager, had decided to accompany assistant coach Doug West on the Metro, to the Verizon Center, instead of taking the bus from the hotel.

(Thanks to commenter pttam7yanks below, who provided the above clarification, with a link to the source...)
Scottie and Doug West took the Metro with Antonio Pena and a graduate manager... 

However, with the Metro's Red Line choked with traffic, due to the Arctic weather conditions, the small trio group, comprising the Wildcats entourage, found themselves engulfed by Georgetown students, making the short trip from the Dupont Circle stop to Metro Center.  Naturally, chants of "Hoya Saxa" and the like began.  They would hear plenty more of them, for the rest of the day.

The big stars for Villanova, offensively, were Reynolds and Corey Fisher, each of whom scored two dozen points.  Reynolds, who passed the 2,000 point milestone against Seton Hall on Tuesday, now ranks fifth all-time; he is only the eighth Wildcat to cross the 2,000-point plateau.  It wasn't a great day from the floor, as he made only six of his 17 attempts; Reynolds did better at the foul line, where he converted 9-11.

Fisher, a junior, became the 52nd Wildcat to score 1,000 points.  He did so on 8-13 shooting, in one of the best games of his Main Line career.  The third Wildcat to finish in double figures was Corey Stokes; the Bayonne Bomber scored 10 points on 4-9 shooting, in just 20 minutes of action.

Ordinarily, 24 points each from Reynolds and Fisher would probably be enough for a victory.  But the Wildcats' team defense today was terrible.  No fewer than five Hoyas scored at least a dozen points; I speculate that it's probably the first time in Jay Wright's tenure at Villanova, that five opponents have managed 12 points or more in a single game.

Villanova permitted Austin Freeman to score 25 points on 8-12 shooting, his second-highest total this season, while playing all 40 minutes.  Likewise, Jason Clark also had two dozen points on 8-11 shooting, a season-high for him.  Greg Monroe, who led a gallant comeback effort in Georgetown's loss to Villanova at the Wachovia Center in January, finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.  Julian Vaughn had 13 points in only 22 minutes, including 7-7 from the line.  Hollis Thompson's 12 points represented just his second game in double-figures, for the freshman.

Georgetown scored a lot of easy points at the foul line, as the Hoyas took a stunning 50 free throw attempts, hitting 39 of them (78%).  The Wildcats shot almost as well, at 73.9%, but took only 23 attempts, converting 17 of them.

But an even bigger problem was the perimeter - and that was where Villanova lost this afternoon's game.  The Hoyas hit a shocking 52.6% of their three-point shots, going 10-19; the Wildcats made just nine of their 28 attempts, less than 33%.

Other issues complicated the Villanova cause today.  The Wildcats' frontcourt was largely ineffective, bogging down in foul trouble and never becoming a factor.   

Pena played just 11 minutes before fouling out; the seven points and three rebounds are impressive, given how little he played, but the Wildcats needed him on the floor.  Taylor King played only 14 minutes before he fouled out; his half a dozen points came on a pair of triples, but during Villanova's last gasps of a comeback attempt down the stretch.  Mouphtaou Yarou played 13 minutes, but accumulated four fouls, while scoring two points and grabbing three boards.  Maurice Sutton had to be pressed into service for seven minutes, due to all of the fouls.

The Wildcats were dreadful in the first half, committing a barrage of turnovers in the early going, and falling behind 50-31 at intermission; they trailed by as many as 23 points.  The 59-point second half looks great, per se, but in light of how bad the defense was overall, the Wildcats had no real chance to come back.  Villanova yielded 53 points in the second half.  Georgetown dominated the game from start to finish.  It was the first time that the Hoyas had scored over 100 points in a Big East regular-season, regulation game, in over ten years.

The only glimmer of hope was when Chris Wright - Georgetown's only true point guard - sank into foul trouble, himself.  He picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, and after some time on the bench, came back in and promptly fouled out; he played only 28 minutes.

When Wright was out of the game, Georgetown had enormous difficulty in getting its half-court offense rolling, and Villanova seemed to be in a good position to rally.  The Hoyas committed 20 turnovers, today; astonishingly, more than Villanova's 19 miscues.  But the deficit was simply too large to overcome; the Hoyas' juggernaut had racked up too many points, by then.

It was not a good game for either Wright; Jay Wright had picked up a technical foul in the first half, and it was - surprisingly - not due to his losing a cuff link.  Georgetown did a terrific job today at making it difficult for the Wildcats to do what they do best - drive relentlessly to the hoop and/or get fouled.  The Hoyas were adept at drawing charges, contributing significantly to Villanova's high turnover rate, especially in the first half.  (At one point; Villanova had committed both more fouls and turnovers, than it had field goals, which is never a good portent for victory.)

The game ruined Villanova's bid for a perfect Big East season; the Wildcats fell to 9-1 Big East, 20-2 overall.  Georgetown, which had been upset by South Florida on Wednesday, improved to 7-4 Big East, 17-5 overall.  It also ended Villanova's 11-game winning streak; the only previous loss had been at Temple, back on December 13.

Next Up For the Wildcats

Villanova now must make the arduous journey to Morgantown, West Virginia, a difficult trek even when historic Blizzards have not fallen, to take on the #6 Mountaineers.  Look at it this way - this year's trip can't be any worse than last year's Friday the 13th disaster in Morgantown (or today's disaster in DC).

Go Wildcats!



pttam7yanks said...

Scottie and Doug West took the Metro with Antonio Pena and a graduate manager

Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, pttam7yanks-

Thanks for the comment, and the link with the info, about the story with Reynolds and Doug West on the Washington Metro... I've incorporated it into the game story and given you full credit...

Go Wildcats!

Anonymous said...

Missed the game. Sounds like a hammering, by the Hoya's and the refs. Well, sometimes you eat the bear and this time the bear ate us.

We can grow from this -- look at how Talley's team responded to loss to New Hampshire. We have great talent and a fine coach. This team opened with the greatest opening 20 games in the program's history. We can respond. We'll see what we're made of in the next couple of weeks.


Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, Seamus-

Thanks for the comment. You probably were better off not seeing it, as Georgetown made us look really bad. Your metaphor about the bear is right on target.

We can't win them all. 9-1 in conference play is a remarkable record... It's just a shame, because we were in a great position to assume the top spot in the AP poll, if we could have kept this up for another couple of weeks...

(At least we get a chance to forget about it quickly and focus on West Virginia tonight...)

Go Wildcats!