March 5, 2001
Villanova Wildcats (17-11 overall, 8-8 Big East)
AT&T Big East Tournament March 7-10, 2001
This Week's Top Stories
Bradley's Delivered: Touted as one of America's top transfers, junior center Michael Bradley came through in style for Villanova during the regular season. The All-American candidate averaged a double-double with 21.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg. He scored better than 20 points in 21 games, or 75 percent of the contests played by Villanova.
Defense Matters: The Wildcats are 15-2 (.882) this season when holding the opponent below 80 points. One of those losses, though, came in the regular season finale at Miami on March 3, when the Hurricanes prevailed 65-53.
First Round Success: The Wildcats have won at least one game in the Big East Tournament in each of the last six seasons. The last loss in an opener came to Providence in 1994.
A Loss At Miami: In its final regular season road game last Saturday the Wildcats fell to the Miami Hurricanes at the Miami Arena 65-53. "I thought we did a good job defensively and that we competed," said Wildcats head coach Steve Lappas, "but we weren't able to get things going offensively. You have to give Miami credit for having hands in our faces." It also didn't help Villanova's cause when Michael Bradley suffered a slight sprain of his right ankle. He was limited to 26 minutes and said later his movement was definitely affected. Miami held a 31-29 advantage at intermission and Villanova was within one 46-45 with under ten minutes left. But Darius Rice collected the rebound of a John Salmons airball and placed it into the basket before the shot clock expired in the view of the officials and the `Canes went on a n 11-0 spurt to pull away. Villanova finished its season at 8-8 in the Big East Conference for the second consecutive season.
A Masterpiece in the Paint: All-American candidate Michael Bradley continues to produce prodigious scoring numbers for the Wildcats. In the regular season finale he scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. It was the 24th time this season that Bradley led the `Cats in scoring. Bradley's accuracy from the field is nothing short of remarkable. He converted 241-of-347 field goal attempts (.695), tops in the country. If he missed his next 25 field goal attempts from the floor he would still comfortably shatter the Villanova single season field goal percentage record held by Ed Pinckney (.640). There is this too: eliminate his 33 3-point field goal attempts (of which the junior from Worcester, Mass., has made a respectable 12) and Bradley is connecting on 73 percent of his two-point field goal attempts. Through 28 regular season games Bradley has scored 610 points, giving him a total of 1,052 for his college career (he spent the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons at the University of Kentucky before transferring to Villanova in the fall of 1999). Only 13 players have scored more in a single season at Villanova and Bradley is within reach of a few of them.
Here is a look at that list: 1. Bob Schafer (1954) 836 2. Bill Melchioni (1966) 801 3. Howard Porter (1971) 799 4. Paul Arizin (1950) 735 5. Kerry Kittles (1995) 706 6. Larry Hennessy (1951)703 7. Keith Herron (1978) 652 8. Howard Porter (1970) 645 9. Tom Ingelsby (1973) 638 10. Kerry Kittles (1994) 630 11. Harold Pressley (1986) 620 12. Keith Herron (1978) 618 13. Kerry Kittles (1996) 613 14. Michael Bradley 610
Defensive Tenacity: One area of improvement for the Wildcats in the second half of the regular season came at the defensive end of the floor. Over the course of the last eight games, Villanova has surrendered 66.4 ppg. Keep in mind that this figure also includes the 107 points allowed in the first meeting with West Virginia that took two overtimes to settle on Feb. 20 at WVU Coliseum. The Wildcats have won five of those eight games. Prior to that stretch Villanova was permitting opponents to score an average of 76 ppg. The Wildcats have mostly done a good job on the glass as well, outrebounding their opponents in 17 of 18 games prior to Miami. The Hurricanes became only the second team in two months to outrebound the Wildcats in a game (West Virginia was the first).
Injury Report: 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 Georgetown. 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.
G Ball: Sophomore guard Gary Buchanan enjoyed his second consecutive solid regular season for the Wildcats. The native of St. Louis, Mo., was second on the club in scoring (13.5 ppg) and topped the club with 66 3-point field goals. He also led Villanova in minutes played (989), an average of 35.3 mpg. Of course, Buchanan's most noteworthy work came at the free throw line. From Nov. 17 through Feb. 10, Buchanan did not miss a free throw. He totaled 73 straight and in the process broke the previous Division I record of 64 held by Joe Dykstra of Western Illinois in the 1981-82 season. Entering the Big East Tournament Buchanan is 87-of-92 at the free throw line (.946). That tops the country and puts Buchanan within striking distance of the single season Division I accuracy mark from the stripe (.954) held by Craig Collins of Penn State. Buchanan did not attempt a free throw in his final two regular season games and is 6-of-10 at the line since the streak came to an end with a miss at Georgetown on Feb. 12.
Matthews Remains Suspended: Sophomore forward Aaron Matthews continues to serve the indefinite suspension announced prior to the Seton Hall game. The native of Seaford, Del., is averaging 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds a game and has made 21 starts on the season.
Looking Back: Here is a quick recap of the three games this year played between Villanova and its possible opponents in the first two rounds of the Big East Tournament.
West Virginia 107, VU 100
On Feb. 20 these clubs did battle before a national audience on ESPN2. The Wildcats took a 40-35 lead into the half and built the advantage to as many as 13 points in the second half. But the Mountaineers used full-court pressure to rally and a Josh Yeager 3-point field goal with 28 second left forced overtime. WVU got the lead and it took a rally capped by a Reggie Bryant triple with six seconds left to create the need for a second overtime, where WVU followed the lead of Chris Moss (29 points, 16 rebounds) to a win.
Boston College 90, Villanova 80
These teams met on Jan. 27 on the Pavilion and staged a spirited contest. A Gary Buchanan triple right before the halftime horn pulled Villanova to within 40-39 at intermission. Jermaine Medley's pair of 3-point field goals gave the `Cats a 62-57 lead with 11:51 left. But BC responded behind Troy Bell and Ryan Sidney and pulled away to a 10-point win.
Boston College 89, Villanova 74
Balanced scoring held the Eagles build a 14-point first half lead and glide to a comfortable victory. Troy Bell scored 22 for the Eagles.
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 2-2 Temple 2-2 La Salle 2-2 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 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... One school record the Wildcats would prefer to avoid involves turnovers. Villanova has committed 528 through 28 games. That is 39 shy of the school record established in 1977-78 entering postseason play. The 567 turnovers that stand as the present record took place in 32 games... Derrick Snowden has played 147 minutes in the past four games (36.8 mpg). The freshman from Baltimore had played 352 in the 24 contests that had preceded this stretch (14.7 mpg)... Gary Buchanan and Michael Bradley are the only two Wildcats to start every game this season. Jermaine Medley has started all 26 of those that he has been available for. Ricky Wright moved into the starting lineup when Brooks Sales broked his hand on Jan. 29 and has remained there... Sales has played with a soft cast on his hand since returning against Miami on Feb. 17. He has averaged 3.8 ppg while playing with the cast compared to the 10.3 ppg he averaged prior to suffering the injury following the Boston College game on Jan. 28...
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: 4-2 Wednesday: 3-1 Thursday: 1-1 Friday: 0-1 Saturday: 4-5 Sunday: 2-1