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Jan. 23, 1998

Wildcats Prepare for St. Johns

Next Match Up:
Villanova Wildcats (7-9 Overall, 4-4 Big East)
vs. St. Johns Red Storm (14-6 Overall, 6-3 Big East)

Date: Jan. 25
Location: Madison Square Garden (19,876)
Time: Noon (ET)

Last Time Out
Villanova: The Wildcats fell to Miami, 78-63, on Thursday night in Miami Arena. The Hurricanes were led by Johnny Hemsley, who had 21 points on nine-of-18 shooting from the field, and Mario Bland who added 15 points. Jermaine Medley paced the Wildcats with a career-high 17 points, while T.J. Caouette and Howard Brown each scored 10 points. Miami shot just under 50 percent from the floor and outrebounded Villanova 41-37, while the Wildcats only converted 38.5 percent of their shots.

St. Johns: The Red Storm captured a double-overtime victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday night, winning 90-83 behind 26 points and 16 rebounds from Zendon Hamilton and 15 points from Ron Artest. Vonteego Cummings led the Panthers with 27 points, while Ricardo Greer and Isaac Hawkins each scored 17 points. St. Johns outrebounded Pittsburgh 50-38, and converted 41.7 percent from the field. Pittsburgh shot 47.1 percent from the field, including a stellar 50.0 percent performance from three-point range.

Villanova-St. Johns Series Notes St. Johns leads the overall series with Villanova, 51-34, but the Wildcats have won seven-straight contests dating back to Jan. 8, 1994. Prior to the start of that streak, the Red Storm had won four-straight meetings. The series has been tightly contested in Big East regular-season games, as St. Johns leads by a narrow, 17-16 margin. Villanova is 4-6 in Madison Square Garden versus St. Johns, while head coach Steve Lappas is 7-5 versus the Red Storm throughout his career, 7-2 while at Villanova.

The Coaches
Villanova Steve Lappas
110-65 (.629) / 6 yrs. (VU)
166-127 (.567) / 10 yrs.
St. Johns Fran Fraschilla
27-20 (.574) / 2 yrs. (SJU)
112-55 (.671) / 6 yrs.

Next Up
Villanova: Villanova plays its third-straight game on the road on Jan. 28, 1998, at Notre Dame. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
St. Johns: St. Johns hosts Rutgers on Jan. 28, 1998, at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m.

Medley Leads the Way Freshman Jermaine Medley came off the bench on Thursday to lead the Wildcats in scoring with a career-high 17 points on five-for-11 shooting from the field. The Wilmington, Del., native, hit three treys and was a perfect four-for-four from the charity stripe, also a career-best. His 17 points surpassed his previous high of 15 set earlier this season versus Seton Hall when he nailed five three pointers, the most treys by a freshman in school history. Medleys performance marked his fourth double-digit effort of the season.

Caouette Contributes Sophomore T.J. Caouette played a season-high 22 minutes versus the Hurricanes last week, the most minutes for him this season since earlier in the year. The product of Winthrop, Maine, was extremely productive, scoring 10 points on four-of-six shooting and posting a team-high seven rebounds. His seven boards was a personal-best.

Floor General Junior John Celestand, currently the Wildcats leading scorer with an average of 12.5 ppg, has done an excellent job over the last three games of keeping his turnovers down. The Piscataway, N.J., native, has recorded a total of 19 assists to only 6 turnovers (3:1 ratio) during that time. Included in that total is a career-high 13 assists versus West Virginia last Sunday. That performance is the best by a Wildcat since March 28, 1994 when Alvin Williams also compiled 13 versus Siena in the NIT.

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 12 games this season and is averaging 12.1 ppg, the second-highest number on the team. Hes shot better than 50 percent from the field eight times, and 40 percent or better from behind the arc eight times. Hes led the team in scoring five times, assists four times and blocks five times, and rates as the best shooting wing on the Wildcat squad with a percentage of .480 (73-for-152). Seven of his top 10 career shooting performances have come this season, and he boasts the most made three-pointers of any Wildcat with 28. Browns excellent shooting this season is markedly improved from his previous two seasons (35.8 in 1996, 39.2 in 1997).

Browns Best Career Shooting Performances*
1. 77.8 7-for-9 20 points Fla. Intl (12/27/97) 2. 70.0 7-for-10 19 points Georgetown (1/12/98) 3. 66.7 4-for-6 8 points Miami (1/27/96) 4. 63.6 7-for-11 16 points Seton Hall (12/6/97) 5. 62.5 5-for-8 14 points Bradley (11/29/97) 62.5 5-for-8 10 points UNC-Wilm. (12/30/96) 7. 60.0 6-for-10 15 points BC (12/30/97) 60.0 6-for-10 18 points St. Josephs (12/23/96) 9. 55.6 5-for-9 11 points Georgetown (12/3/97) 55.6 5-for-9 13 points Connecticut (2/23/97) 11. 54.5 6-for-11 19 points Temple (12/16/97) *minimum four made field goals italics indicate 1997-98 season

Three-Point Shooting Woes Villanova has been struggling from behind the three-point arc over the last six games (1-5 record), converting only 36-of-129 (.279) threes during that time. In the four games prior to the Wildcats recent slump (4-0 record), they hit 31-of-77 (.403) from three-point range. On the year, the Wildcats have converted 100-of-330 (.303).

Four-Straight Losses Losing has not been the norm on the Main Line in the last four years, as Villanovas current four-game skid is its first since the 1993-94 season. In fact, its almost been four years to the day, as the Wildcats lost four-straight from Jan. 15, 1994 to January 30, 1994, to Syracuse (88-85), Pittsburgh (81-78), Connecticut (91-67) and Syracuse (87-68). The Wildcats have not lost five-straight contests since Steve Lappass first year at Villanova when they dropped eight-straight to finish the season. Villanova lost to Seton Hall (65-59), Georgetown (61-52), Providence (74-59), Syracuse (73-72), St. Johns (77-62), Pittsburgh (77-76), Miami (77-76) and Boston College (74-70). The dates of that streak ran from Feb. 13, 1993 to March 11, 1993.

Scoring Slump The Wildcats have lost four-straight games and five of their last six contests after stringing together four-straight wins in December. One of the major difference in the two streaks is scoring, as Villanova averaged 85.0 ppg in wins over Temple, Florida International, Hofstra and Boston College. Conversely, the Wildcats have only managed an average of 62.7 ppg during their last six games. Villanova lost to La Salle, defeated Boston College and fell to Seton Hall, Georgetown, West Virginia, and Miami during that six-game stretch.

Malik the Key Sophomore power forward Malik Allen has been plagued by foul trouble of late, fouling out of two games and getting at least four personals in five of the last six games. The Medford, N.J., native, enjoying a much-improved second season on the Main Line, has been taken out of rhythm during the last six games, probably due to the foul trouble. Allen, currently posting 9.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg on the season, has averaged only 6.3 ppg during the Wildcats recent five-game slump. In contrast, when the Wildcats are playing well and winning, Allen appears to be the catalyst. During Villanovas recent four-game winning streak in December, the 6-foot-10 soph averaged 14.0 ppg.

Stepping up the D While Villanova has struggled on the offensive end periodically throughout the season, the Wildcats have stepped up their effort on the defensive end. Through the first six games of the season (2-4 record), Villanova was giving up 44.4 percent (164-for-369) on opponent field goal shooting. Since the New Orleans game, Villanova has recorded a mark of 5-5 and has limited opponents to 40.0 percent shooting from the field (253-for-631).

At Home and on the Road in the Big East Over the last four years (1994-present), Villanova has recorded a mark of 25-5 (.833) at home in Big East Conference regular-season contests. In Big East games in The Pavilion during that time, the Wildcats are 19-3 (.864), while they are 6-3 (.667) in Philadelphia. During the Steve Lappas era at Villanova, the Wildcats are 31-18 (.633) at home in league play, including a stellar 24-12 (.667) in The Pavilion. The Villanova Wildcats have recorded a mark of 26-23 (.531) on the road in Big East Conference match-ups under Lappas, including a stellar record of 24-16 (.600) over the last four years, and a 2-2 mark this season with wins at Georgetown and Boston College. Big East

Season  Record  Road    Home
1997-98  4-4    2-2     2-2    (2-1 Pavilion / 0-1 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  57-41   26-23   31-18  (24-12 Pavilion / 7-6 Phila.)

Experimenting with the Lineup Villanova head coach Steve Lappas has utilized four different starting lineups this season. The constants have been Malik Allen, Rafal Bigus, and John Celestand, while five other players have started at least one game this season. Following are each of Villanovas lineups this season, and the result:
(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 6-3
(F) Allen, (F) Brown, (C) Bigus, (G) Celestand (G) OConnor 1-4

Wildcats in OT Villanova has played two overtime contests this season, defeating Boston College 68-65 in The Pavilion on Jan. 6, and falling to West Virginia, 79-65 on Jan. 18, also in The Pavilion. Under head coach Steve Lappas, Villanova is 6-6 in overtime contests during his tenure, including a 6-3 record from the 1993-94 season on. The Wildcats did not play an overtime game all last season, and won their only extra-session game during the 1995-96 season, winning 72-69 over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

Home, Sweet, Home The Wildcats have recorded 38-straight sellouts in their on-campus arena, The Pavilion, and boast a record of 96-36 (.727) in the building since it opened in 1986. From the 1994-95 season on, Villanova is 34-4 (.895) in The Pavilion, including a 19-3 (.864) mark in Big East Conference match-ups.

The Best Since ... When Villanova and Boston College played at Conte Forum on Dec. 30, 1997, the Wildcats shot 61.8 percent from the field, at the time its third-straight game of shooting 50 percent or better from the field. The Wildcats converted 34-of-55 from the field, their best shooting effort since the Wildcats set a school record at the famous 1985 NCAA title game versus Georgetown. On April 1, 1985, Villanova shot 22-of-28 (.786) to defeat the Hoyas and sit atop college basketballs throne.

Wildcats on the Tube During the Lappas tenure on the Main Line, Villanova has made 56 appearances on five national television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, ABC, and NBC). The Wildcats have recorded a mark of 32-24 (.571) in those games, including an 11-15 record on ESPN. Villanova is 9-1 on ESPN2, 9-8 on CBS, 1-0 on ABC, and 2-0 on NBC during the six Lappas years.

75 is the Magic Number Over the past six seasons under head coach Steve Lappas, the Wildcats are 74-12 (.860) in games where they have scored 75 points or better. In 1996-97, the Wildcats were 15-3 when hitting a score of 75. Last year, Villanova was 16-1 when producing 75+ points. During the 1994-95 season, they tallied a 19-1 record in such games, while they were 13-4 in 1993-94 and 8-3 in 1992-93. Villanova is 3-0 in 1997-98 when they score 75 or better.

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.

Rookie Starter Marvin OConnor made his first collegiate start versus Boston College on Jan. 6, 1998, becoming the second freshman this season to take a crack at the starting lineup. Jermaine Medley started 10 games this season before OConnor replaced him versus the Eagles, starting five times in 1998. Under head coach Steve Lappas eight freshman have started at least one game during their rookie seasons.

Frosh Starters Under Lappas
Kerry Kittles, 17 games (92-93)
Eric Eberz, 1 game (92-93)
Jason Lawson, 32 games (93-94)
Howard Brown, 5 games (95-96)
Rafal Bigus, 1 games (95-96)
Tim Thomas, 31 games (96-97)
J. Medley, 10 games (97-98)

Lappas Versus Ranked Opponents Under head coach Steve Lappas, the Wildcats have recorded a mark of 17-17 (.500) against nationally-ranked teams, including a record of 13-10 (.565) over the past four years. This season, the Wildcats are 1-2 against nationally-ranked squads, defeating No. 16 Temple (68-57) on Dec. 16, 1997, and falling to No. 1 Duke on Dec. 10 (L 94-66) and No. 21 West Virginia on Jan. 18 (L 65-79)

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.

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 47-19 (.712) 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 3-5 in 1997-98.

Villanova and the NBA Last season, three Villanova players were taken in the NBA Drafts 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 nations second-highest number (Kentucky with six is first).