Dec. 30, 1997

Villanova Plays Boston College

Last Time Out

Villanova: On Saturday at The Pavilion, the Wildcats defeated Hofstra, 86-74, behind four double-figure scorers and .574 shooting from the floor in the game. Howard Brown led all scorers with a career-high 20 points, while Rafal Bigus added 17, Malik Allen 16 and Brian Lynch 12 for the Wildcats. Villanova also recorded a season-best .545 effort from three-point range, and outrebounded Hofstra by a 38-30 margin. The Flying Dutchmen converted 42.4 percent from the field and only 25.0 percent from behind the arc.

BC: Boston College has not seen action since Dec. 23, 1997, defeating Northwestern 64-63 at Conte Forum. Antonio Granger and Duane Woodward each eclipsed 20 points, with 22 and 21 points respectively. Northwestern shot 51.0 percent from the field and outrebounded Boston College by a 36-24 margin. The Eagles converted 43.4 percent from the floor in the game and committed only eight turnovers.

Villanova-Boston College Series Notes Villanova leads the overall series with Boston College, 45-16, and has won seven of the past eight meetings. The Eagles broke Villanova's seven-game hold last March in the Big East Tournament Championship game with a 70-58 victory over the Wildcats to earn their first-ever conference tournament title. In regular-season Big East contests, Villanova owns a 24-9 record versus Boston College, and the two teams have won four games apiece in Conte Forum. Villanova has won three-straight meetings in Boston College's home arena, including an 84-66 win last season on Jan. 25, 1997. Head coach Steve Lappas owns a 6-4 career record versus Boston College.

     
The Coaches
Villanova    Steve Lappas 
              108-60 (.636) / 6 yrs. (VU)
             164-122 (.569) / 10 yrs.

BC           Al Skinner
                8-4  (.667) / 1 yr. (BC)
            146-130  (.529) / 10 yrs.

Next Up Villanova: The Wildcats will face La Salle on Jan. 2, 1998, at 1 p.m. in The CoreStates Spectrum in Philadelphia in their final Big Five game of the season.

BC: The Eagles travel to Morgantown, W.Va., on Jan. 3, 1998, for a 7 p.m. tipoff with West Virginia.

On Fire After not reaching the 50-percent shooting plateau in their first seven games of the season, the Wildcats have shot lights out in their past two games, converting 66-of-112 (.589) combined. Villanova recorded its best shooting performance in nearly two years on Monday in its 103-73 win over Florida International, hitting 39-of-65 field goals (.600). The last time Villanova shot that well was on Jan. 25, 1995, versus Miami when the Wildcats converted 33-of-55 from the field, also for 60 percent. Villanova won that game by 30 points as well, defeating the Hurricanes 92-62 at The Pavilion.

Villanova followed its 60-percent shooting effort versus FIU with a .574 (27-for-47) performance the following game against Hofstra. The last time the Wildcats registered back-to-back shooting of 50 percent or better was last season versus West Virginia (31-56, .554) on Feb. 26, 1997 and Rutgers (25-50, .500) on March 1, 1997. Included in the Wildcats' performance against Hofstra was six-for-11 (.545) shooting from behind the three-point arc, their best of the season and most efficient since a 12-for-18 (.667) effort against Rutgers last year.

Scoring Spree In addition to excellent shooting, Villanova has been scoring in bunches over the last two games. The team from the Main Line is averaging 94.5 points per game over the pair of games, 23.9 points higher than its season average of 70.6 ppg. Villanova's 103 points versus Florida International was its most since March 17, 1994, when the Wildcats defeated Canisius 103-79, and it marked the 49th time in school history that Villanova posted 100 or more points in a single game.

Another Career High for Howard Howard Brown has reset his single-game scoring numbers twice in the last three games. He posted 19 points against Temple on six-for-11 (.545) shooting from the field, including a four-of-seven (.571) performance from three-point range. The junior then surpassed that with a 20 point effort against Hofstra two games later. Brown hit seven-of-nine (.778) from the field, the best shooting performance of his career, and hit both triple attempts in the game.

Dominating Wildcat post players Rafal Bigus and Malik Allen were impressive in victories over Florida International and Hofstra, as the duo combined for 66 points, 31 rebounds and 11 assists in the pair of games on 25-of-36 (.694) shooting. Bigus registered a career-high 19 points versus FIU, followed by 17 against Hofstra on 13-of-17 (.764) shooting from the field for an average of 18.0 ppg. Allen, meanwhile, scored 14 and 16 points consecutively on 12-of-19 (.632) shooting against the two non-conference opponents. Additionally, the duo's combined 18 field goal attempts in each game is the most for the pair in a single game all season, while their 13 made field goals versus FIU is also a superlative this year for the combined effort of the big men.

Sharpshooting Big Man

bigus photo
Rafal Bigus.
Rafal Bigus currently rates as the Wildcats' best shooter from the field, converting a team-high 63.3 percent from the floor (31-for-49). In addition, the Stargard, Poland, native, is also Villanova's best free throw shooter, as he has hit 18-of-23 from the line for a percentage of 78.3 on the year.

Lynch Impresses After an early season plagued with injuries (strained achilles and sprained ankle), Brian Lynch has come on strong in the Wildcats' last two games. The sophomore guard posted back-to-back 12-point efforts, a single-game career-high in scoring, and shot nine-of-14 (.643) combined in the pair of games. Lynch's four-of-five (.800) shooting performance versus Hofstra is the best effort ever of his young career.

Comparing the Stats So far this season, Villanova's offensive output has differed greatly depending on where the game has been played. In five home contests (4-1 record), the Wildcats have shot a combined 136-of-287 from the field (.474) and averaged 78.6 points per game. In contrast, in four road games (1-3 record), Villanova is shooting 95-of-243 from the floor (.391) and averaging only 60.5 points per game.

At Home and on the Road in the Big East Over the last four years (1994-present), Villanova has recorded a mark of 24-4 (.857) at home in Big East Conference regular-season contests. In Big East games in The Pavilion during that time, the Wildcats are 18-2 (.900). During the Steve Lappas era at Villanova, the Wildcats are 30-16 (.652) at home in league play, including a stellar 23-11 (.676) in The Pavilion.

The Villanova Wildcats have recorded a mark of 25-21 (.543) on the road in Big East Conference match-ups under Lappas, including a stellar record of 23-14 (.622) over the last four years, and a 1-0 mark this season after a 73-69 win at Georgetown.

Big East 
Season     Record  Road   Home
1997-98    2-0     1-0    1-0 (1-0 Pavilion / 0-0 Phila.)
1996-97    12-6    5-4    7-2 (4-1 Pavilion / 3-1 Phila.)
1995-96    14-4    6-3    8-1 (7-0 Pavilion / 1-1 Phila.)
1994-95    14-4    6-3    8-1 (6-1 Pavilion / 2-0 Phila.)
1993-94    10-8    5-4    5-4 (4-3 Pavilion / 1-1 Phila.)
1992-93    3-15    2-7    1-8 (1-6 Pavilion / 0-2 Phila.)
Totals    55-37  25-21  30-16 (23-11 Pavilion / 7-5 Phila.)

When the Wildcats Shoot ... After nine games, Villanova has converted 43.6 percent from the field (231-530). In all five of their victories this season, the Wildcats hit for better than 40 percent from the floor (44.4 versus Georgetown; 46.4 versus Seton Hall; 42.0 versus Temple; 60.0 versus FIU; and 57.4 against Hofstra). In contrast, each of their four losses had the Wildcats shooting below the 40-percent mark (38.2 versus Minnesota; 37.3 versus Bradley; 36.6 versus Duke; and 33.3 versus New Orleans).

Experimenting with the Lineup Villanova head coach Steve Lappas has utilized three different starting lineups this season. The constants have been Malik Allen, Rafal Bigus, and John Celestand, while Jermaine Medley has been inserted at the point guard position and Howard Brown replaced Zeffy Penn versus Georgetown. Following are each of Villanova's lineups this season, and the result: Lineup Record (F) Allen, (F) Penn, (C) Bigus, (G) Lynch, (G) Celestand 0-1 (F) Allen, (F) Penn, (C) Bigus, (G) Celestand, (G) Medley 0-1 (F) Allen, (F) Brown, (C) Bigus, (G) Celestand, (G) Medley 5-2

Holley to Redshirt Freshman Johnny Holley, a 6-foot-6 forward from McKinney, Texas, will redshirt the 1997-98 season due to an inflammatory condition in his right knee. Holley played in only one game this season, seeing limited action against Bradley.

Celestand Lights It Up

celestand photo John Celestand.
In the best shooting performance of his career, John Celestand hit eight-of-11 (.727) from the field to lead the team with 20 points against Florida International, including 15 in the second half. The junior also was a perfect four-for-four from behind the three-point stripe, the best shooting performance from three since Jonathan Haynes did it on Dec. 5, 1994 in a 98-75 win over Seton Hall. Haynes also converted four-of-four from the field. In one of his most complete games as well, the Piscataway, N.J., native, had five rebounds, six assists, three steals and only two turnovers in 30 minutes of play.

Starting from Scratch The Wildcats were virtually starting from scratch prior to the start of the season, with only one starter returning to the 1997-98 lineup, as Chuck Kornegay, Jason Lawson, Tim Thomas, and Alvin Williams have all departed. Combined, the quartet amassed 4,244 career points and 2,142 career rebounds during their varied tenures at Villanova. In addition, the Wildcat seniors from a year ago (Kornegay, Lawson, Williams) compiled 95 victories during their four-year stint, the most wins by a class in school history. The class of 97 surpassed the class of 85, which posted a record of 92-38 and won the NCAA title.

Home, Sweet, Home The Wildcats have recorded 36-straight sellouts in their on-campus arena, The Pavilion, and boast a record of 95-35 (.730) in the building since it opened in 1986. From the 1994-95 season on, Villanova is 33-3 (.917) in The Pavilion, including an 18-2 (.900) mark in Big East Conference match-ups.

Lappas and Non-Conference Opponents Currently in his sixth season at the helm of the Wildcat program, head coach Steve Lappas has posted a mark of 47-18 (.723) versus non-conference opponents during his tenure. In his first year on the Main Line, the Wildcats were 5-3; in 1993-94 Villanova recorded a mark of 10-3 in non-Big East games. In 1994-95, the Wildcats registered a mark of 8-3, and in 1995-96 they were 11-2 out of conference. Last season, Lappas posted a mark of 10-3 in non-league contests, while Villanova is 3-4 in 1997-98.

Wildcats on the Tube During the Lappas tenure on the Main Line, Villanova has made 53 appearances on five national television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, ABC, and NBC). The Wildcats have recorded a mark of 31-22 (.584) in those games, including an 11-14 record on ESPN. Villanova is 8-1 on ESPN2, 9-7 on CBS, 1-0 on ABC, and 2-0 on NBC during the six years Lappas has served as Villanova head coach.

1997-98 Big East Predictions Syracuse and Connecticut are the choices of the Big East Conference head coaches to win the 1997-98 division titles. Syracuse is picked to win the Big East 7 Division, receiving 10 first-place votes and 81 points. Connecticut garnered nine first-place votes and 69 points to earn the Big East 6 champion, narrowly edging St. John's with 63 points and four first-place votes. Following is the results of the tally:

Stepping Up Junior Howard Brown has established himself as the most consistent player for the Wildcats this season, stepping up his play in his third year on the Main Line. Brown has posted double figures in six games this season and is averaging 11.8 ppg, the second-highest number on the team. He's shot better than 50 percent from the field five times, and 40 percent or better from behind the arc five times. He's led the team in scoring three times and assists and blocks three times, and rates as the best shooting wing on the Wildcat squad with a percentage of .520 (39-for-75). Additionally, the Pottstown, Pa., native, boasts the best three-point shooting percentage (.424) on the squad, as well as the most made three-pointers with 14. Brown's excellent shooting this season is markedly improved from his previous two seasons (35.8 in 1996, 39.2 in 1997).

Brown's Best Career Shooting Performances*
1.  77.8    7-for-9     20 points    Fla. Int'l (12/27/97)
2.  66.7    4-for-6      8 points    Miami (1/27/96)
3.  63.6    7-for-11    16 points    Seton Hall (12/6/97)
4.  62.5    5-for-8     14 points    Bradley (11/29/97)
    62.5    5-for-8     10 points    UNC-Wilm. (12/30/96)
6.  60.0    6-for-10    18 points    St. Joseph's (12/23/96)
7.  55.6    5-for-9     11 points    Georgetown (12/3/97)
    55.6    5-for-9     13 points    Connecticut (2/23/97)
9.  54.5    6-for-11    19 points    Temple (12/16/97)
*minimum four made field goals  

Villanova and the NBA Last season, three Villanova players were taken in the NBA Draft's two rounds, the highest number from any school in the nation. Tim Thomas was selected with the No. 7 pick by the New Jersey Nets, and was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, while Jason Lawson was chosen with the No. 46 selection by the Denver Nuggets. He, too, was traded later in the evening to the Orlando Magic. Alvin Williams went to the Portland Trail Blazers with the No. 48 pick.

In addition, over the last two years, Villanova has had four players selected in the Draft, with Kerry Kittles chosen by New Jersey with the No. 8 pick. Those four players selected in two years rates as the nation's second-highest number (Kentucky with six is first).

Rookie at the Point Wildcat freshman Jermaine Medley made his first career start against Bradley, becoming the first true freshman to run the point for Villanova since the 1985-86 season when Kenny Wilson ran the show. Wilson went on to become a four-year starter for head coach Rollie Massimino, setting the Wildcat career assist mark with 627 from 1985-89. That year, Villanova started an all-freshman backcourt with Wilson at point guard and Doug West at the two guard position. Both players started each of their four years at Villanova.

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