Saturday, December 31, 2011

Villanova Highlights of 2011: Beating UMass

Entering 2011, Andy Talley had never won at Amherst. That changed in 2011 when a dominant defensive effort by Villanova, and Chris Polony's coming out party finally changed that.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Villanova Highlights of 2011: ESPN College Gameday


Forget about the result of that game against Pitt back February for a minute. The mere fact that Villanova hosted  ESPN College Gameday in 2011 was exciting, and a pretty big damn deal. The environment inside The Pavilion that morning was perhaps the most electric I can ever remember it.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of students that attended the Gameday festivities were unable to attended the game, and the atmosphere in the arena was about as dull as you would expect thanks to the pensioners who hold the majority of the season tickets.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Villanova Highlights of 2011: Penn Relays DMR


In one of the most thrilling sporting moments I have ever witnessed in person, Villanova All-American Matt Gibney ran down Miles Batty of BYU in the final 200m of the college distance medley relay Championship of America at the Penn Relays. To put this in context, Batty seemed like he was impossible to beat in the run up to Penn, but Gibney was still able to chase him down and anchor his second career DMR championship. The video above is the highlights of that race, won by Brian Tetreault, Carlton Bowers, Sam Ellison and Gibney.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Big East Play is Upon Us

After a lackluster start to the 2011-2012 season, the Villanova basketball team will begin Big East conference play tomorrow night at 7 PM against West Virginia.

Through 12 games this season, WVU is 9-3 and is currently ranked 31st by Ken Pomeroy. Villanova is currently ranked 60th, hindered by their adjusted defense, which just barely scratches the top 100 teams in the nation. On offense, The Mountaineers are led by senior forward Kevin Jones, who is averaging 21 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game. Jones should pose a particular problem for Villanova, because Mouphtaou Yarou is a poor defender and his backup Maurice Sutton, who is a superior defender may not play due to illness. Villanova's best chance at winning is probably forcing Truck Bryant to beat them. While Bryant is scoring a lot of points, he's also shooting below 40% from the field and around 70% from the line.

Villanova is unlikely to win this one, but stranger things have happened. Let's wait and see.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Villanova Christmas Wish List

 I want more of this in 2012, please

There are a lot of things Villanova could use this Christmas and heading into the new year, so I decided to list them so I can haz all of your page views!
  1. A stable conference for Villanova sports- BCS Football is not necessarily a requirement in this equation, but that would be ideal.
  2. Another NCAA Tournament appearance for Villanova basketball.
  3. For Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns to stop shooting threes.
  4. Two more outdoor NCAA Championships for Sheila Reid, and two Penn Relays titles as well. Bogdana Mimic can finish second in the 5000m too!
  5. A new defensive coordinator who can adequately replace the recently departed Mark Reardon.
  6. Health for the 2012 Villanova football team throughout spring practice.
  7. An investigation into government waste at Temple and Penn State.
That's about it. A simple list.

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Don't Read Much Into The Shooting Last Night

    One of the silver linings you could take out of Villanova's victory over American last night is the fact that they shot better than they have all season. When taken in the context of American's earlier games, seeing such a performance as anything better than an expected outcome would be foolish. Entering last night's game, American was 213th in the nation in field goal percentage defense, and 94th in three point defense.You can't count on Dominic Cheek to make two out of three shots from the perimeter every game, even if he wasn't guarded, and you can't count on a team as poor shooting as this to make 40% of its three pointers.

    Unfortunately, the outcome of this game pretty much assures that we'll see Villanova launch 50 threes at West Virginia next Wednesday. Don't worry though, there was this one game where they made a bunch of them!

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Villanova Decisively Beats a Bad Team


    After being humiliated last weekend by St. Joe's, the Villanova basketball team won the final game of their out of conference schedule against American 73-52 to enter Big East play 7-5 overall and undefeated (6-0) at home. Leading the way for Villanova with 12 points apiece were Maalik Wayns and JayVaughn Pinkston. More importantly from Wayns, he took only one(!) three point shot. Also in double figures was Dominic Cheek with 10 points. As a team, Villanova shot 40 percent from beyond the arc, much better.

    Not everything was good though. As a team, they shot only 43% from the field and under 65% from the line. Mouphtaou Yarou had an absolutely brutal night offensively, making only one of the six shots that he took, and missing three of his four free throw attempts. Also, Cheek took three outside shots, which is three too many.

    More to come tomorrow.

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Insanity

    Albert Einstein was famous for defining insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," under that definition, Jay Wright is fit for a straight-jacket in 2011. Despite the fact that Villanova is 273rd in Division I in three point field goal percentage, they are 41st in the nation in three point attempts. In fact, only two teams that shoot more three pointers than Villanova, (William & Mary and VMI,) miss three pointers at a greater clip, and everyone knows that VMI runs a ridiculous offense where players jack shots up at the first opportunity.


    There is also the matter of who is taking the three pointers. The two leaders on the team in three point attempts, Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns are the two worst perimeter shooters on the team among players who have attempted more than ten outside shots this season. What's even more puzzling about Wayns and Cheek taking the most three pointers is the fact that they are making nearly 87 percent of their free throws between them, and their contributions to the offense are in the manner that they are least likely to be fouled, shooting jump shots. If the two of them were to drive to the hoop and pick up fouls, the Villanova offense could be markedly better overnight, and it would probably help the defense as well.


    The message is simple: stop the insanity.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    St. Joseph's (PA) Has a Math Problem


    30-2= Perfect season. It's fantastic to see such embrace of moral victories to the point where outright falsehoods are perpetuated.

    Just to rub some salt in the wounds:

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Recruiting: Villanova Out of Amile Jefferson Derby


    According to a source that I trust that has provided me with correct information on numerous occasions, you can scratch Villanova off of Friends Central power forward Amile Jefferson's final college choices. I normally don't even report on recruiting because there is so much fluidity, but this one is something I feel is necessary to report on due to the fact that many Villanova fans are holding out hope that Villanova will sign Jefferson. It's not going to happen though, especially since other schools with "resources" unavailable to Villanova have entered the race. If Jefferson does indeed commit to Villanova, you should be concerned that the school has sold its soul.

    The good news about this is that Temple has even less of a chance to land Jefferson.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    An On Court Incident Is Not a Crime


    Ray Mancini is a killer. On November 13, 1982 in Las Vegas, the 21 year old Mancini deliberately and viciously pummeled 23 year old South Korean native Duk Koo Kim for nearly 40 minutes. Kim, bruised and battered by the beating he received suffered a severe brain injury and succumbed to his injuries five days later. Ray Mancini was never charged in connection with Kim's death despite the fact that it was witnessed by thousands of people in person and millions on television.

    In the above paragraph, everything is absolutely the truth, but it's deliberately spun so that it makes Mancini sound like a criminal, when he was really a boxer whose opponent tragically died in the ring. It's quite easy to distort things and make Mancini seem like a criminal, just like some people who are making Yancy Gates and other Xavier and Cincinnati player seem like criminals. And now that there's even talk of a potential prosecution of the involved players. I understand that the situations are very different in that the brawl in the basketball game involved actual malice, but the Mancini-Kim fight forced boxing itself to be accountable instead of the individuals involved because they realized that the fighters were having to navigate around an occupational hazard, which is exactly what this brawl was due to the way that the Cincinnati media has fanned the flames of this rivalry, and the fact that it was obvious to any viewer that the officials lost control of this one early. After the fight, matches were reduced from 15 to 12 rounds, The configuration of the ropes on a boxing ring was changed to prevent fighters from falling out of the ring, and most importantly, fighters had to go through far more rigorous pre-fight examinations.

    What corrective action could college take to prevent more fights like the one at Xavier from happening again? They could do a few things that include reducing the maximum workload of officials, sanctions for officials who are involved in games where brawls happen and a generally more liberal use of the technical foul when things start to get chippy and players start to talk shit with one another. Treating the players as thugs or criminals is not the answer.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    2011-2012 Villanova Basketball In a Nutshell


    Marcus Denmon of Missouri's performance against Villanova last week perfectly sums up the ineptitude of this team defensively. It's woeful at best, and unwatchable at worst. Watch and suffer.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Cincinnati-Xavier: OUTRAGE!

    I know that I'm in a very small minority here, but I feel like the punishments doled out to players on Xavier and Cincinnati after their brawl on Saturday were fair or even excessive. Anybody who has seen one of their teammates get a punch thrown at him should know that coming to the defense of a teammate comes so naturally that it is almost a reflex.

    This is not the time to guilt trip the players, because after all, they're only kids. What it is time to do is take a look in the mirror and wonder why there's a need by some in the media to call for such punitive sanctions after a lapse in judgement that lasts for only seconds. The moral circle jerk by members of the media sickens me even more than the brawl itself because I've come to expect it, and that's far more troubling than something that is spur of the moment and affected by real emotions. Just be thankful that after the fight, the involved players didn't also test positive for performance enhancing drugs.

    Looking Deeper at Dominic Cheek


    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Villanova-Temple Preview

    Entering the penultimate game of the antiquated Big Five round robin, Villanova is struggling in games that are not in the city series. Coming into the game against Pennsylvania government waste (Temple), Villanova has lost three of four, and has still yet to beat a team that is in the top 50 of any ratings index. Well, tonight's game on North Broad would be the perfect chance to finally get a decent win and end this ridiculous stretch of mediocrity.

    What could get in the way of a positive result? Well, for starters, Villanova doesn't play defense, they jack up threes at an alarming rate despite that being far from the strength of this team, and they're simply undisciplined. Since I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that Villanova will jack up a whole lot of threes, the percentage of offensive rebounds that they are able to grab off of three pointers will be the second most important factor in this game after the rate in which they sink three pointers. The last thing Villanova fans will want to see is Temple getting long defensive rebounds that will set up a transition game for Temple, further accentuating Villanova's poor defense.

    What is on Villanova's side? Well, for starters, Jay Wright pretty much owns Fran Dunphy and Temple will be missing two of their starters for this game. Against Villanova is the fact that Temple is a better team according to the objective metrics, and the game is at Temple. Basically, Villanova will need to show improvement over what we've seen so far to win this game.

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Hey Temple Fans


    Self preservation is important folks, you had your chance and blew it. Temple should stop wasting my hard earned tax dollars and become self sufficient before they bitch about another school that is just that: self sufficient.

    Off Topic: Brandon Roy to Retire

     
    If there is one player that Randy Foye will be forever linked with, it is Brandon Roy. Although they never played on the same team, and are from opposite sides of the country, they were linked forever when they were traded for one another on NBA draft day in 2006. For a while, it looked as if the Portland Trailblazers, the team Roy played for "won" that deal as Roy looked to be turning into a perennial all-star.

    Well now, with Foye no longer on the Timberwolves, and Roy set to announce his retirement due to balky knees, the trade looks to be a wash, and Randy can finally have a career without incessant comparisons to another player.

    In other NBA news: Scottie Reynolds was invited to Utah Jazz training camp. Best of luck to him.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    The Big East Unveils New Logo


    Despite the revelation that they won't change their name in lieu of their new additions, The Big East has unveiled a new logo for the new-look conference. They say that it's edgy and fits in with the new identity of the conference.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Villanova-Missouri Postmortem: Player By Player


    In lieu of a game recap, I'll be going player by player and airing my frustrations.

    Mouphtaou Yarou- For the most part, I'm fine with you. Cut down on the fouls and make free throws like you did last season and you're good.

    Maalik Wayns- Just stop shooting threes. STOP IT. Here's an idea, since you're shooting over 90% from the foul line this season, how about you go to the lane and hope you get fouled. An old fashioned three pointer is the only one you should attempt from now on.

    Dominic Cheek- See: Maalik Wayns.

    Darrun Hilliard- You are already the best guard on the team, I would like to see more of you.

    James Bell- I honestly do not remember a single instance in which you were on the floor.

    Markus Kennedy- See: James Bell.

    JayVaughn Pinkston- Improvement, that's what I like to see.

    Tyrone Johnson- Not enough data.

    Achraf Yacoubou- Decent from what I saw, but not enough data.

    In other news, if you want to make a lot of money, bet against Villanova covering the spread. They have beaten the spread two times in their last 21 games.

    I'm done.

    Searching For Optimism: Villanova-Missouri Preview


    In a season where Villanova has proven to be a young team that is deeply flawed on defense, it probably isn't a good thing that they're playing a top ten team that has one of the most efficient offenses in America, but they happen to be facing exactly that when they play Missouri tonight at Madison Square Garden. Despite being near the bottom of the country in rebounding, (an overrated statistic,) Missouri is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, partially because of the fact that they turn the ball over less than ten times per game, and partially because they make 52.5% of their field goal attempts.

    Entering Tuesday's game, Missouri is ranked tenth in both polls, eighth by Ken Pomeroy, and ninth by Jeff Sagarin. Villanova, on the other hand is unranked, 54 and 116 using the same standards. If you're willing to count this game as a true neutral site, Sagarin's ratings say that Villanova should lose by 14 points, and Villanova is currently an eight point dog according to betonline.com, and as I noted yesterday, Villanova is pitiful against the spread since the latter part of last season.

    Villanova wins if: They suddenly learn how to play defense in a game against one of the most efficient offenses in the country.
    Villanova loses if: They play like they have been playing
    Maalik Wayns three point miss counter: Through seven games this season, Maalik Wayns has missed 23 three pointers this season while making only 10.

    The old school rap song of the day is Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Peculiar Stat

    In their last 20 games, the Villanova basketball team is 2-18 against the spread.

    It's probably just a function of Villanova being overvalued by the common degenerate on the strength of a recent Final Four berth, but it is interesting nonetheless.

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    On Retiring Jersey Numbers

     The gold standard

    Conventional wisdom says that the best way to honor an athlete after his or her career is to retire their jersey number. In this case, conventional wisdom is wrong on two counts. First off, there are only so many numbers you can retire before you have zero numbers left, and  it's also a poor way to honor the greatest players to wear such a uniform.

    The best way to honor a great player is to instill in the athletes what it means to wear the number worn by a legend. At Notre Dame, players are given a card with the legends who have worn their particular number, and they don't retire any number regardless of how legendary of a career that player has had, and it makes sense. If Notre Dame started retiring numbers, they would have no numbers left, and would also have to disrespect great players by not retiring their jersey. My New York Giants ran into this exact problem with Harry Carson, who is a Hall of Famer, but every week, a player lines up wearing his number 53 jersey despite the fact that some lesser Giants have had their numbers retired. This is simply an inequitable system and it cannot be sustained over a long period of time.

    At Syracuse, their #44 was worn by Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little, three of the greatest players in the history of college football, and thus: the number has a special meaning to the point where there is even a blog named in its honor. There would be no better honor to the legacies of those three men than to allow someone else to wear 44 for their senior season, and retiring it permanently was a stupid decision made by a bunch of bean counters to sell jersies and t-shirts.

    If you instill tradition, and adequately give respect to the prior wearers of the numbers in question that there is no greater way to honor a player than to allow him to wear the number of an all-time great. If no one on a particular team is worthy, hold the number until there is a player who is worthy, but never unequivocally retire a number.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    55 Years Ago Today in Villanova History


    Ron Delany of Ireland wins Villanova's only Olympic gold medal in distance running at the 1956 Olympic Games at Melbourne, Australia. Delany was the seventh man, and the first Irishman to run a sub-four minute mile, and his gold medal in the 1500m is the most recent Olympic gold medal won by an Irish runner, and with the dominance of the East Africans in every event above 400m, it may be the last won by an Irishman. Just two days earlier, Delany's Villanova teammate (and future Villanova track coach) Charlie Jenkins had won the 400m, Villanova's first Olympic gold.

    There is video of the end of the race (with the commentary from some mick) at the beginning of this video: