Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Tourney Beat: Villanova

With plans to TiVo about 47 conference tournament games in the next five days and then zip through them in 40 minutes each, I've been trying to decide the best way to absorb what I'm watching and then organize my thoughts. Using the blog is an obvious solution, so every time I see something compelling, I will file a "tourney beat" entry.

The first one is for Villanova, who beat DePaul this morning to kick off the Big East Tournament (always my favorite conference tourney). The Wildcats are considered to be safely in the field of 65, but I wanted to get a good look at them to see if they had some staying power. The verdict: probably not.

Positives - Scottie Reynolds clearly has the ultimate green light from Jay Wright, which makes Nova dangerous. He's very quick, has good ball skills (Reynolds throws a fantastic one-handed bounce pass, with either hand), and possesses a pretty jump shot with almost unlimited range. He is the type of lead guard that could go for 35 in a game and carry his team to a win. The Wildcats are also tough defensively and well coached, so they should be able to avoid blowout losses. Perhaps most importantly, they finally have former high school phenom Curtis "ACL" Sumpter healthy. The fifth-year senior is a good rebounder and a very efficient scorer and looks like he could be particularly effective running the high screen and roll with Reynolds. Nova is also one of the best free throw shooting teams I've seen in a while.

Negatives - This team has no depth and no balance. With 12 minutes to go in the game, Reynolds and Sumpter had taken all but three field goal attempts. This is the definition of a two-man team. There's no bench, no offensive punch, no reinforcements whatsoever. And even worse is the fact that both of Nova's big guns have question marks. Reynolds is a freshman with a tendency to play on extreme ends of the spectrum - either he is out of control or he is too passive. His talent is amazing and I could see him scoring 30, but in the process committing key turnovers and shooting a low percentage. As for Sumpter, he is very prone to foul trouble. Without both of these guys on the floor and playing great, the Cats can't win.

Conclusion - Unfortunately, Villanova’s positives are the type that allow them to beat virtually anyone in any given game while the negatives are the type that prevent them from stringing many wins together. In other words, Villanova might make for a scary opponent, but it seems impossible that they could win multiple games in this tournament, let alone three or four in a row.

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