Feb. 12, 2001
(14-8 overall, 5-5 Big East)
(19-4 overall, 6-4 Big East)
Monday, Feb. 12, 2001
WPHT Radio (Ryan Fannon & Whitey Rigsby)
Tonight's Top Stories
Record Setter: Sophomore guard Gary Buchanan extended his streak of consecutive made free throws to 73 with eight more in Villanova's 74-60 win over Connecticut on Saturday. Buchanan holds the NCAA Division I record in that department. The collegiate record is 94, held by Paul Cluxton of Northern Kentucky.
Numbers of Note: When the Wildcats hold the opponents to less than 80 points this season they are 12-1. In contrast when the opposition scores more than that number Villanova is 2-7.
Miami Returns: The University of Miami returns to the Pavilion on Saturday for the first time since a disputed Johnny Hemsley 3-point goal was ruled good on Jan. 17, 2000. The Hurricanes took home a 67-66 win that night.
A Second Half Surge: There were numbers on the final statistic sheet that ordinarily would have given Villanova head coach Steve Lappas pause. For instance, there were 23 turnovers. Starting forwards Aaron Matthews and Ricky Wright combined to play only 38 minutes due to foul difficulty. On two separate occasions Jermaine Medley had to be helped from the floor, the second time after having his right knee buckled in a collision with a Connecticut player. Michael Bradley was helped from the floor in the first half after injuring his right thigh muscle. And Villanova trailed at halftime 32-27. In such circumstances entering play Saturday they were 3-6 (.333). Yet the Wildcats broke open a close game in the last five minutes to pull away to a 74-60 triumph, their second over Connecticut in less than a month. "I couldn't be more proud of this bunch of guys," said Lappas. "Talk about adversity. We started the game with Mike Bradley and Ricky Wright as our four and five. If you told me before the game that Ricky was only going to play 15-16 minutes, that Mike was going to go out for a stretch and Jermaine for the rest of the half, I would have told you I thought we had no chance. "Today, we competed. We played hard every second of the game. "There was no doubt this was a big win. The kids knew it was big. At this time of year when you are 13-8 and playing conference games, every game is a big game. They knew it was a big game and they played hard."
Bloch Party: So what pushed Villanova over the top? Well, you could make the case that it was a Bloch that did it. Andreas Bloch, that is. Prior to Saturday, Andreas Bloch had scored 13 points all season. Three of those came in the last minute of Tuesday's 80-51 victory over Pennsylvania at the First Union Center. Against the Huskies, though, Bloch was a difference maker. The freshman from Wurmlingen, Germany matched his career point total with 13 points, including four 3-point field goals in the second half. "I needed a good shooter and Andreas is a good shooter and a good kid," said Lappas. "He thanked me before we came in. I told him I should be the one thanking him." Bloch got free for three triples in the final 10 minutes and hit them all. His final three was a circus one made as the shot clock ticked down. "I think Gary (Buchanan) tried to do a layup and I got the ball," said the 6-8 forward. "I dribbled outside the 3-point line and I heard coach yelling to shoot. So I tried to get the shot up and draw some foul shots. I didn't expect it to go in." Injuries to Brooks Sales and Reggie Bryant have given Bloch an opportunity of late. He has appeared in each of Villanova's last five contests. Saturday was by far his most productive effort. Bloch took a rather circuitous route to the Main Line. As an exchange student he played a year of high school basketball at Fresno (Cal.) Central H.S. in 1999-2000. When Christopher Walker was added to Steve Lappas' staff last April, he informed the head coach of a recruiting prospect that Walker had become acquainted with while working at Pepperdine. Bloch visited last May and signed shortly thereafter. "This was the chance I had been waiting for," said Bloch of the Connecticut game. "I just wanted to help the team with some threes and some scoring."
73 Straight: The remarkable run of Gary Buchanan at the free throw line continued on Saturday as the native of St. Louis drained eight more to add to his NCAA Division I record total of 65 consecutive made free throws. No Division I player in history has made more free throws in succession than Buchanan. "It's pretty remarkable," said Penn coach Fran Dunphy on the night Buchanan broke the record previously held by Joe Dykstra of Western Illinois. "It's not like those were clangers. They went dead in the hoop, which was really impressive. "When he made the first one and everybody went crazy, I'm saying, `Tying, that's not good enough for me. I want him to make it and finish it and break this record.' I think that's great ... I'll remember it, I really will. It's a great accomplishment. It's pretty remarkable when you think about it." Paul Cluxton is recognized as the NCAA consecutive free throw champion. As a senior at Division II Northern Kentucky in 1996-97 he drained all 94 of his free throw attempts. This year Buchanan is 81-of-82 (.988) at the free throw line, his only miss coming in a game at Duke on Nov. 17. The highest free throw percentage for a season in Division I was recorded by Penn State's Craig Collins in 1984-85 (94-of-98, .959). Buchanan is 150-of-156 (.962) at the line in his career. Buchanan currently leads the NCAA at .988. Teammate Michael Bradley is atop the NCAA field goal percentage chart and no squad in history has ever had two players from the same team end the year atop the leaderboard in two separate categories. To put the Buchanan streak into perspective consider that the second longest streak of consecutive made free throws by a Wildcat is 12. It belongs to Brooks Sales and is currently active, though Sales is not. The junior from Bloomfield, Conn., made his last 10 free throws at Connecticut on Jan. 24 and was 2-of-2 in the subsequent game against Boston College. He was then sidelined by the fractured right hand that will sideline him until early March. The free throws weren't Buchanan's only contribution on Saturday. He led the club in scoring with 21 points and tied his career-high with nine rebounds.
Defense On the Upswing: A large reason for Villanova's success at the First Union Center this past week could be summarized in one word: defense. The Wildcats held Pennsylvania to a season low 51 points on Tuesday and followed that by holding Connecticut to 60 points. Neither Penn nor the Huskies connected on better than 35 percent of their field goal attempts. In its three games leading up to those two, Villanova allowed 263 points, an average of 87.6 ppg. As noted earlier, VU is 12-1 (.923) this season when it holds the opponent to 80 points or less.
Masterpiece in the Paint: The numbers keep piling up for Villanova's All-American candidate, Michael Bradley. The junior from Worcester, Mass., scored 16 points and collected eight rebounds, despite suffering the injury to the quadricep on his right leg (he is listed as probable for the Georgetown game). Bradley inched his national field goal percentage lead to .698 with a 7-of-10 shooting performance. He also added six assists - the sixth time this season the multi-dimensional athlete has paced the `Cats in that department. In his third active season of college basketball, Bradley now has a total of 929 career points. (He played the 1998-99 and `99-00 seasons at the University of Kentucky.) Villanova is 5-2 in games where Bradley has four or more assists this season.
Training Table: Freshman guard Reggie Bryant continues to mend from a pulled abdominal muscle that has sidelined him for the past seven games. Bryant originally suffered the injury in late December and attempted to play through it during the first five games in January. However, he was forced to the sidelines in the middle of the month and his return to game action remains up in the air. Medley, meanwhile, suffered an injury to his right knee on Saturday. Preliminary reports suggested no structural damage, though the senior was to have been re-evaluated over the weekend.
No Sales This Month: Junior forward Brooks Sales, Villanova's third leading scorer this season at 10.3 ppg, will be out of action due to a broken right hand (shooting) suffered last month. Sales was averaging 27 minutes per game and played one of the best games of his college career five days prior to the injury. The native of Bloomfield, Conn., scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a win over No. 20 Connecticut on Jan. 24. The injury occurred when Sales attempted to break his fall after slipping on some ice. Surgery was performed on Jan. 31 at Bryn Mawr Hospital by team orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Rob Good.
Philadelphia Big Five: Villanova clinched the Big Five title with an 80-51 triumph over the University of Pennsylvania on Feb. 6 at the First Union Center. The standings:
Villanova 4-0 St. Joseph's 2-1 La Salle 1-1 Temple 1-2 Pennsylvania 0-4
Villanova's four game sweep was its first since the 1984-85 season. In all, Villanova has won or shared the City Series crown 15 times. The Philadelphia Big Five resumed complete round robin competition for the 1999-2000 season. Villanova is 9-1 (.900) in Big Five action over the past three seasons. Notables Villanova wasn't sad to see the month of January come to a close. The Wildcats were 4-5 in the month, the first time they have endured a month with more losses than wins since February of 1998... Villanova is 4-0 in games played within the city limits of Philadelphia this year. The `Cats were 2-0 at the Palestra and 2-0 at the First Union Center. Lifetime Villanova is now 7-8 at its home-away-from home, the First Union Center. The Wildcats have won their last three in a row in the building... Villanova has shot better than 50 percent from the field in 11 of its 22 games this season... On the down side Villanova's 23 turnovers on Saturday were the eighth time this year that the Wildcats have turned it over 20 or more times in a game... The final score of the past two Villanova-Connecticut games played at the First Union Center has been the same: 74-60. In 1999-2000 the Huskies triumphed by that count while the Wildcats did so this year... Villanova recorded the greatest second half turnaround in Big East history on Jan. 17 against Virginia Tech. The Hokies held a 46-29 edge and with 17:44 left held a 23-point advantage. Villanova went on a 32-3 run and finished the night with a 86-74 win.
Two For Tomorrow:
Coach Steve Lappas and his staff inked two prepsters to national letters of intent this fall. Marcus Austin, a 6-9 forward from St. Patrick's Elizabeth (N.J.) High School and Brennan Martin, a 6-6 forward from California by way of Hargrave Military Academy both signed letters in November. "Marcus Austin will be a tremendous addition to our program," said Lappas. "At 6-9 he is very athletic and brings scoring ability that will help us in the future. "Brennan Martin is an outstanding 3-point shooter and that is a very valued part of our offense. He will make some great contributions to our program."
VU Day By Day:
Monday: 1-0 Tuesday: 4-1 Wednesday: 2-1 Thursday: 1-1 Friday: 0-1 Saturday: 4-3 Sunday: 1-1