Feb. 19, 2001
Villanova Wildcats (15-9 overall, 6-6 Big East)
West Virginia Mountaineers (15-8 overall, 6-6 Big East)
Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2001
WVU Coliseum 7:30 p.m.
WPHT Radio (Ryan Fannon & Whitey Rigsby)
Tonight's Top Stories
Junior center Michael Bradley posted his 11th double-double of the 2000-2001 season on Saturday night in a 80-62 loss to Miami. Bradley scored 16 points and set a new career high with 16 rebounds.
Freshman guard Reggie Bryant, sorely missed during his seven game absence due to a pulled abdominal muscle, played his best game since suffering the injury in late December last Saturday. He scored nine points and added three assists in 15 minutes. St. John's Arrives Sunday: Villanova looks to avenge a January loss to the Red Storm at Madison Square Garden when St. John's comes to the Pavilion on Sunday. ABC-TV will carry the broadcast.
The Miami Hurricanes arrived at the Pavilion fresh from an upset of No. 8 ranked Syracuse and continued their hot play at the Pavilion on Saturday night. Behind the stellar play of freshman Darius Rice, Miami defeated Villanova 80-62 before a packed house of 6,500. "Our defense had been very good to us over the past three games," said Villanova head coach Steve Lappas. "Most of it had been zone, though, and I knew from watching the film that it was going to be hard to do that against this team because they shoot it well. We had to try the zone because it had been so good to us but they just made every shot." Indeed, Miami was 13-of-25 (.520) from beyond the 3-point arc and 8-of-11 (.727) in the second half. The Hurricanes built a 33-27 lead at the intermission and then used a spurt at the start of the second half to build a 16-point lead. Rice led the winners with 28 points while the Hurricanes other starting forward, James Jones, added 17 points. Michael Bradley led the Wildcats with 16 points.
There wasn't a lot of good news for Villanova on Saturday night but the return of Brooks Sales and Reggie Bryant to duty certainly was a pleasant sight for Lappas. Sales saw his first action since Jan. 27 at the Pavilion when he entered the game eight minutes into the first half. He was wearing a soft cast on his right hand in the wake of surgery to correct a fracture that occurred on Jan. 31. The junior from Bloomfield, Conn., was cleared to play by team surgeon Dr. Rob Good at the shootaround on Saturday afternoon. He saw only two minutes of action. Meanwhile, Reggie Bryant saw his first extended activity since returning from a pulled abdominal muscle on Monday at Georgetown. Injuries have played a major role at Villanova this year to a far greater degree than they have in recent years on the Main Line. Through 23 games, Villanova has already lost 15 man games to injury - Bryant (7), Andrew Sullivan (2), Sales (5) and Johnny Holley (1). That also doesn't factor in that Bryant played five games in early January where his effectiveness was greatly reduced by his injury or that Medley barely played against the Hoyas. In contrast, Villanova lost nine man games to injury through all of the 1999-2000 season and all of them belonged to Holley, who suffered a knee injury in a Jan. 8 practice. They lost the same number during the 1998-99 campaign - eight for Holley and one for John Celestand.
Masterpiece in the Paint
Villanova's All-American candidate Michael Bradley posted another classy effort in the loss to Miami The native of Worcester, Mass., scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting (.636) from the field. In addition, he posted a new career high for rebounds with 16, the third time this year he has established a new career high in that category. "Bradley is a tremendous player," said Miami head coach Perry Clark. This season Bradley has reached double figures in scoring in every one of Villanova's 24 contests. Bradley has scored 969 points in his college career at the University of Kentucky and at Villanova. His 527 points are the most by a Wildcats since Alvin Williams totaled 580 as a senior for the 24-10 Wildcats of 1996-97. With his strong rebounding effort, Bradley is averaging 9.8 rpg. If he is able to push that figure into a double-digit rebounding average he would become the first `Cat since Harold Pressley in 1985-86 to average a double-double for the season. Villanova is 6-2 in games where Bradley has four or more assists this season. Bradley also made another 3-point field goal - his 12th of the season. He is now second on the club in 3-point field goal percentage (.414) to Andreas Bloch.
Spirit of St. Louis
Gary Buchanan made two more free throws Saturday night to improve his Division I leading free throw percentage to .977 (84-of-86). 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). Earlier this season Buchanan converted 73 free throws in a row to shatter the all-time NCAA Division I record formerly held by Joe Dykstra of Western Illinois. One of Villanova's dilemmas on Saturday night was that Buchanan, its best perimeter scoring threat, only generated six shots. "They have some big guys and did a very good job of keeping hands in Gary's face," said Lappas.
80 Spells Trouble
After three games where Villanova's defense had served it well, the Wildcats were damaged by Miami's firepower on Saturday. After holding its previous three opponents to an aggregate percentage of .320, VU saw the Hurricanes connect on .482 of its attempts from the field. It marked the fifth time this year that an opponent had converted 10 or more triples against the Wildcats. The final score reinforced another statistic that has held true throughout the campaign. Villanova is 13-1 (.929) when it holds opponents below 80 points. When the `Cats permit the opposition to score more than 80 points they are 2-8 (.200).
Since suffering a pulled abdominal muscle in late December, freshman guard Reggie Bryant has endured more than his share of down moments. At first, Bryant attempted to play through the injury. But with his movement clearly affected, Bryant scored only five points in his first five games in January in diminishing minutes. Following the Jan. 17 win at the Pavilion against Virginia Tech it was decided that rest was Bryant's only option. So Bryant went to the sidelines. During practice he was reduced to watching and riding the stationary bicycle.. On Feb. 12, he returned to the lineup for eight minutes against Georgetown. Yet it wasn't until the second half of the Miami game that Villanova fans got to see the Bryant who had played such an integral role in December wins over Temple, St. Joseph's and La Salle. (Bryant also scored 17 points at the University of Georgia at the end of December). Bryant scored nine points and added three assists while displaying some of the head fakes and ball skills that were in evidence before suffering the injury.
Freshman forward Andreas Bloch has taken on a much more significant role in the Wildcats playing rotation of late. On Saturday Bloch contributed six points and two steals in a career-high 18 minutes of activity for Steve Lappas. All of Bloch's points came on a pair of 3-point field goals. The freshman from Wurmlingen, Germany by way of Fresno Central High School has converted eight of his last 11 (.727) attempts from beyond the 3-point arc. That covers a four game span, dating to a Feb. 6 win against the University of Pennsylvania at the First Union Center. Bloch leads the Wildcats in 3-point field goal percentage (.556), although he has only taken 18 attempts for the year.
In the absence of incumbent starter Brooks Sales, sophomore Ricky Wright continues to spread his wings at the power forward position. On Saturday the native of East Chicago, Ind., played 27 minutes and was one of three `Cats to reach double digits in the scoring column. He produced 10 points and five rebounds and was 4-of-4 at the free throw line. On the season Wright is now averaging 7.4 ppg and 4.3 rpg.
Bradley's a Finalist
The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced the 15 finalists for the Naismith College Player of the Year award and Michael Bradley is among the candidates. Bradley is the first Wildcat to be included on the list of finalists since former All-American Kerry Kittles' senior year of 1995-96. On the list Bradley is joined by fellow Big East athletes Troy Bell (Boston College), Eddie Griffin (Seton Hall) and Troy Murphy (Notre Dame). The winner of the award will be announced by the Tipoff Club at a function in Atlanta on April 7.
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.
Villanova now owns three wins over teams ranked in the Associated Press top 25: Temple, Connecticut, and Georgetown.... The Wildcats were 2-0 in the First Union Center this year, the first time that has happened since the building opened in 1996...
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: 2-0 Tuesday: 4-1 Wednesday: 2-1 Thursday: 1-1 Friday: 0-1 Saturday: 4-4 Sunday: 1-1
Members of the media planning to cover the Big East Conference tournament at Madison Square Garden need to complete the credential request form and forward it to the attention of John Paquette at the Big East Conference office in Providence, R.I. The tournament, which this year consists of 12 teams, runs from March 7-10 this year.
The St. John's Red Storm and the Seton Hall Pirates are headed to the Pavilion as the Wildcats close out the home portion of their regular season schedule at the Pavilion.
St. John's defeated Villanova 82-70 back on Jan. 20 at Madison Square Garden. The two teams have not faced each other at the Pavilion since the final day of the 1998-99 regular season, when the `Cats downed the No. 8 ranked Red Storm 66-60.
Seton Hall will be on the Main Line for the Feb. 28 contest. That will be Senior Night as Villanova bids farewell to seniors Chas Carey, B.J. Johnson and Jermaine Medley.