Nova Nation witnessed a fine display of basketball last evening as the Cats locked up the double bye in the Big East by fighting off a pesky Providence team that lingered around and threatened Villanova's lead for 35 minutes. The biggest thing that I think Wildcat fans can hang their hats on in this game is how Jay Wright has conditioned this team throughout the season to never let their foot off the gas. Jay Wright reinforced this message every timeout, chewing out players who weren't getting it done defensively and emphasising better ball control.
A great thing that doesn't get mentioned as much is the quality of play by Scottie Reynolds every game and every year. People love to look at the numbers he put up his freshman year and ask why he can't continue to put that up. The answer is he is doing what very few players ever learn their entire career and that is to make the team around them better. What he has done this season has been vastly overlooked by a lot of Villanova fans, I believe, and you cannot find fault in his game (okay maybe in the excessive use of the armbar when dribbling prompting offensive foul calls is one fault).
Scottie may not seem like the most energetic Villanova Basketball player on or off the court but you have never gotten the idea that Scottie has ever felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of a certain game. He has proved that since his freshman year and continues to do so now, a great character trait of maturity that will hopefully have profound effects on the incoming class next year and continue to effect the equally talented Corey Fisher.
Switching from watching the game live and making my own judgments and looking at the television to see ESPN's blind resume feature in regards to the Friar's chances at making the Tournament, I thought a lot about Providence's chances to go dancing this year. The Friars are a team that never backed down from Villanova this year and it is that kind of mentality that would make them so dangerous in the Tournament. However, I think they needed this win. I don't buy the argument as much that since it was on the road to a ranked opponent who has a winning streak at home it shouldn't count as much. I do think that they punched their ticket with a win. I do think that when you lose those kind of ticket punching games and you hope to back your way into the tournament you are playing a dangerous game of optimism. I hope the Friars do get a look by the selection committee, the more Big East teams the better--especially since I have confidence that the Friars can win a first round game. Look at the resume of the Villanova team that made it last year and how they performed--anything can happen with a gritty team determined to will themselves to victory which is what Providence has done much of this year. Bottom line, if Providence makes a halfway decent run in the BET, I think Friar fans who be justified holding their breath.
Let's Go Nova's player grades and recap
Friar's Blog is a great stop to see what Providence saw and a great blog in general. They recap.
This Villanova team hasn't lost back to back games all year. It doesn't mean much now that we are facing single elimination tournaments for the remainder of the season but it is a testament to how this team can bounce back from defeat and the kind of team that Jay Wright has developed. Remember the losing streak last year? Same team.