If there was ever an offense that “doesn’t go” it’s that of the 2011-12 Villanova Wildcats. I even caught myself feeling bad for Jay Wright, maybe it was the third time that some Cat threw the ball wildly into the backcourt while under virtually no pressure. (However, I quickly quashed my nascent sympathy by summoning memories of Dante Cunningham and Allan Ray. Especially Allan Ray.)
The funny thing about that game was that SU played kind of uninspired for long stretches as well. It was as if the malaise that has enveloped this year’s Nova team is contagious. Just being in close proximity to the Wildcats, it seems, can cause normally steady players to lose control of their dribble, take ill-advised contested shots, and miss numerous open threes and even some layups. CJ Fair shot 3-12, including a few “What was he thinking?” attempts. Kris Joseph was 2-10, including 0-5 from deep, most of which were wide open in the flow of the offense — shots he has been draining with regularity all season. Triche was 3-9, and Scoop 3-7 (including the halfcourt G-Mac style runner to close the first half). This was a game that SU could well have lost, if Villanova had not turned into, say, Bucknell.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some bright spots. Southerland played well in extended minutes, and even though he had a couple good three-point looks rim out he stayed focused and had good energy. (I’m still concerned about his ability to dribble though.) Obviously Waiters played great in front of his hometown folks, and he adjusted well to his ankle injury — by the way, were you cringing as much as I was when he jump-hobbled out to try to give Scoop a chest bump at the end of the first half? Stay down, kid. Polite applause is fine in that situation. He was the one guy who seemed to have his “A” game, or at least his “A-minus” game. And for the most part the team played good interior defense, and the perimeter D zeroed in on Wayns (the zone was leaning towards his side all game) and just shut him the hell down. But really I think a lot of the credit for this win goes to the pure ineptitude of the Wildcats rather than any particular awesomeness from the Orange. There was never the sense that SU was firing on all cylinders, or even most cylinders. Their big run over the latter part of the first half, the one that opened up the big lead, was sort of ho-hum. Unlike, say, the NC State run where it was just raining threes and dunks for about ten minutes, this one was much more methodical. Several free throws, some 2nd chance points, and hitting a few jumpers, while Nova clanked threes and foul shots and threw the ball away over and over and over again. By the end of the run, SU was up by 18 but it didn’t feel like they were. In fact, I found myself thinking “If they’d made a few of those open threes they’d be up 30.”
But I should probably shut up now. A win is a win is a conference road win. Such things are never to be taken lightly. And I’m starting to sound like I’m entitled to blazing, high-flying entertainment. Far from it. In fact, we should be thankful that SU got out of there unscathed on a night when they shot 28% from deep. Even SU’s “medium” game was more than enough to beat Nova. Your goal for a rod game should be thus: Get the win, get on the bus and get home safely. And they’ve done that (well, they’re in transit right now but presumably they’ll get back to Cusetown OK). Better shake off the mini-shooting slump. Providence is coming Saturday and they gave us a good run last week. The 73 points they scored is the second most SU has given up this season. (You’ll never guess who scored the most. Go ahead, look it up.) 18-0 and back to work.