Villanova's Tournament Hopes on the Line as Wildcats Square Off With Seton Hall at the Pavilion
Feb. 27, 2001
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(16-10 overall, 7-7 Big East)
Seton Hall Pirates
(13-12 overall, 4-10 Big East)
Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2001
ESPN TV (Mike Tirico & Len Elmore)
WPHT Radio (Ryan Fannon & Whitey Rigsby)
Tonight's Top Stories
Team Leader: Junior center Michael Bradley set the pace in Sunday's win over St. John's. The product of Worcester, Mass., led the Wildcats in every major category: points (22), rebounds (10), assists (five), blocks (two) and steals (two). He was also 8-of-10 from the field to raise his overall field goal percentage to .698, tops in the nation.
Medley's Probable: After missing the last two games with a sprained right ankle, Jermaine Medley is listed as probable for this evening's action. Medley will play his final regular season home game in a Villanova uniform against Seton Hall.
On Deck: The Wildcats head south to close out the regular season against the Hurricanes of the University of Miami on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for noon and can be seen on WPHL-TV locally.
Villanova head coach Steve Lappas summed up the Wildcats situation following his team's 71-55 victory over St. John's before a packed house and national television audience on Sunday.
"We live to fight another day," said the Wildcats' head coach.
A fast start and strong defense allowed the Wildcats to build a 25-6 edge in the first half. But Lappas wasn't comfortable.
"It's always hard when you get a big lead like that early," Lappas said. "You know that St. John's is a good team and that they are going to make a run."
The Red Storm did and closed the margin to 29-19 at the half. Early in the second half the lead was down to 35-33.
But Villanova used a late spurt sparked by the work of Michael Bradley and Gary Buchanan to wear down the Red Storm and complete the 71-55 triumph. VU outscored St. John's 20-6 in the game's final six minutes.
"I don't know what we need, what we don't need," said Lappas. "I know we need to win."
This evening marks the final home game for a trio of Villanova seniors.
Walk-ons Chas Carey and B.J. Johnson will don their home white uniform for the final scheduled time. The pair joined the Wildcats in the fall of 1999 and have seen limited action in their college careers.
Tonight also is the final home appearance for guard Jermaine Medley.
Medley, a native of Wilmington, Del., came to Villanova from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia where he was an honorable mention All-American as a senior.
Over the course of his career he has always been an integral part of the playing rotation and was named the Philadelphia Big Five's Most Improved Player as a junior.
As a sophomore, he sank one of the most memorable shots in school history, a 30-foot toss from near the sidelines that helped Villanova rally from a 90-87 deficit with 2.4 seconds left to an improbable 93-90 triumph over Georgetown at the First Union Center.
Medley's career totals.
Points Per Game: 7.3
3-point field goals: 188
3-point field goal percentage: .341
Medley is expected to be in the starting lineup for the contest against Seton Hall after missing the past two games with a sprained right ankle.
For the first time in seven weeks Lappas can call on his complete 14-man roster without thought to health.
Injuries have been a major disruptive force at Villanova since the calendar flipped over to 2001. In fact, three of Villanova's top six scorers -
Reggie Bryant, Medley and Brooks Sales - have missed significant action this winter.
Here is a breakdown of the injuries this season and the number of contests missed.
Reggie Bryant (7 games): pulled abdominal muscle.
Johnny Holley (2 games) right knee tendinitis.
Jermaine Medley (2 games): sprained right ankle.
Brooks Sales (5 games): fractured right hand. Surgery performed on Jan. 31.
Andrew Sullivan (2 games): sprained right knee.
Through 23 games, Villanova has already lost 18 man games to injury. 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 All-American candidate Michael Bradley treated the faithful at the Pavilion to his 12th double-double of the season in the 71-55 win over St. John's on Sunday.
Bradley surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his college career in the game. The junior transfer from the University of Kentucky now has 1,013 points. He has scored 571 this year, the most by a Wildcat since current Toronto Raptor Alvin Williams delivered 580 as a senior in 1996-97.
The Big East Conference appears to be well-suited to Bradley's style. He averages 22.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game in the 14 Big East games he has played entering tonight's fray.
Bradley is connecting on nearly 70 percent of his attempts from the field. If the product of Worcester Burncoat High School missed his next 29 field goals, he would still equal the Villanova school record for field goal percentage held by Ed Pinckney (.640).
Villanova has hovered around the 50 percent mark in field goal shooting all season and that number got a boost in the win over St. John's at the Pavilion.
The Wildcats were 25-43 (.581) from the field against the Red Storm. That was the 12th time this season that the `Cats have connected on better than 50 percent of their field goal attempts. Villanova is 9-3 when it connects on better than 50 percent of its field goal attempts.
Villanova's pair of freshman guards from the Charm City of Baltimore have begun to assert themselves of late.
Derrick Snowden has started the past two games in the absence of Medley and prospered. He scored 10 points on Saturday on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and led the team in minutes with 37.
"Derrick did a good job for us," said Lappas.
Meanwhile, Reggie Bryant flashed some of the form Villanova fans saw in December prior to his abdominal muscle pull. The Wildcat rookie scored seven critical points and handed out four assists in the 71-55 triumph.
"People ask me why we didn't play as well in January as we did in Decmeber, and I point to Reggie Bryant," said Lappas. "Anyone who saw this game today knows how important Reggie is to us."
Bryant, incidentally, is second on the team in free throw accuracy to Gary Buchanan, connecting on .931 of his attempts from the line in his debut on the Main Line.
Gary Buchanan missed two free throws on Sunday which generally qualifies as news. But the most important line were the 19 points he contributed, including four 3-point field goals.
The native of St. Louis, Mo., also tied his career high with nine rebounds.
In his two seasons at Villanova, Buchanan has already scored 772 points in 59 career games (13.0 ppg).
Under 80 Spells Success:
Sunday's strong defensive work helped reinforce the statistical trend we have witnessed all season.
Villanova is 14-1 (.933) when it holds opponents below 80 points. When the `Cats permit the opposition to score more than 80 points they are 2-9 (.182).
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.
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.
St. Joseph's 2-1
La Salle 1-1
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
The Wildcats took a step towards to restoring the good vibes they have had throughout the Steve Lappas tenure at the Pavilion on Sunday. Since the start of the 1994-95 campaign the Wildcats are 69-10 (.873) in front of the Pavilion audience. In Big East play over that span Villanova is 36-8 (.818).
The St. John's victory stopped a two-game slide in the building. Villanova dropped its previous decisions in the Pavilion to Boston College on Jan. 27 and Miami on Feb. 17.
Lifetime Villanova is 129-42 (.754) in the 6,500-seat structure. Since Lappas became head coach in 1992 the Cats are 77-13 (.857).
One reason the Wildcats seem to like the place so much is fan support. The arena has been sold out in 71 of the past 72 regular season games. The only exception to that came on Dec. 30, when a winter storm dropped nine inches of snow in the Philadelphia area. Tonight's game is a sellout.