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Villanova continues to be tough and resilient

by - Published February 19, 2014 in Columns

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Villanova is nothing if not resilient. That is in some ways the story of the season on a macro level, certainly, but on a micro level that has been true as well. When they won a heart-stopping 82-79 double overtime thriller at Providence, they gave a great exhibition of that and why they are a team that can make a run in March.

With this win, Villanova has avoided a losing streak once again. But they have had to show an extra measure of toughness after each loss, because all three wins following a loss involved overtime. While the Wildcats have pulled out a lot of close games and are now 4-0 in overtime, doing so to avoid a losing streak is big, and on Tuesday night they had this toughness in spades.

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Eighth-ranked Villanova too much for Seton Hall

by - Published January 10, 2014 in Columns

NEWARK, N.J. – They competed and battled, as they have all season long. Once again, they came up short.

In the end, eighth-ranked Villanova had too much as Seton Hall went down on the short end of  83-66 defeat at the Prudential Center on Wednesday.

The numbers of note:

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Villanova hopes the next growth comes in the NCAA Tournament

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns

NEW YORK – Villanova has had to deal with the ups and downs of a relatively young team all season long. Doing that in the Big East is difficult unless you have special young players, and while the Wildcats have good ones they’re not quite at that level. After a tough stretch through some of January, the Wildcats started to play better, and despite losing 74-55 to Louisville in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament, they appear to be generally playing better as they hope to hear their name called for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

In mid-January, Villanova didn’t look good. A poor showing at Providence was a bad loss at the time, as Providence was struggling even more en route to a 2-7 start in Big East play. It was their third straight loss, although there was no shame in losing at Syracuse and to Pittsburgh, though the latter was within their grasp at one point. Villanova’s guards were, Wright said, playing like they were inexperienced. Turnovers were a major problem, much like they were on Thursday night when they gave the ball away 25 times, including 18 in the first half.

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Barclays to MSG: A long (and enjoyable) day’s journey

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns

Two main venues, two great tournaments, just miles apart. A day filled with some very good basketball and interesting stories. Why not ? It is March Madness….

11:30 AM – Riding the subway to Brooklyn. The  preceding train ride from New Jersey to Penn Station was spent talking with a Cincinnati fan. The train has fans wearing gear from Pitt, Syracuse (most prominent) and of course, Cincinnati. The Bearcats, our new found basketball friend admits, have a tough assignment facing Georgetown at noon. Overall he is satisfied with the way things are going with Cincinatti but would like to see a little more inside play on offense. For now the Big East can wait. It’s onto the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Atlantic 10. It is difficult typing on a moving train.

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2013 Big East Tournament second round quick hitters

by - Published March 14, 2013 in Columns, Conference Notes

NEW YORK – The quarterfinals are up next in the Big East Tournament. In the second round, we saw Cincinnati blitz Providence early and fend off a rally, Syracuse rally from an early deficit due to a hot shooting Seton Hall team with a very strong second half, Villanova knock off a young St. John’s team and Notre Dame pull away from Rutgers and then hold them off. The four winners take on the top four seeds on Thursday.

Some quick hitters from Wednesday:

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Offense, especially turnovers, a key concern for Villanova

by - Published January 20, 2013 in Columns

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – There’s no question Villanova had their chances on Saturday afternoon at Providence. In fact, both teams did, since host Providence was 29-48 at the foul line. But Villanova gave the ball away too many times and gave up too many offensive rebounds in their 69-66 loss, their third straight after a seven-game winning streak.

Villanova has struggled on offense, with their 69 points per game being a deceiving statistic. The Wildcats barely top 40 percent from the field and give the ball away 16 times per game. The latter was a big reason they had a tough time on Saturday, as they turned it over 25 times against the Friars, including 17 in the second half. They shot just under 45 percent from the field, so when they held on to the ball they shot a reasonable percentage for a win.

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The Notebook: Alabama, Devon Collier, the 2K and turnovers

by - Published November 19, 2012 in Columns

NEW YORK – Some notes and a look back at the 2K Sports Classic:

The Classic was captured by Alabama in a convincing 77-55 win over Villanova. Alabama squeaked by Oregon State in the semis while Villanova came back late to defeat Purdue in overtime. Oregon State exited Madison Square Garden with third place, defeating Purdue in the consolation. For junior forward Devon Collier it was a nice showing on his “homecoming”. The 6-8 Collier hails from the Bronx and played his high school ball at St. Anthony’s for Hall of Famer Bob Hurley. Collier does not start, but true to the coaching adage “it is more important who finishes”, Collier is on the floor at crunch time.

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Looking back at the Jimmy V

by - Published December 7, 2011 in Columns

NEW YORK - The Jimmy V Classic, always providing interesting matchups, did not disappoint. The Madison Square Garden doubleheader on Tuesday featured a strong Missouri team followed by an entertaining matchup in the nightcap. The scores:

Missouri 81, Villanova 71

Marquette 79, Washington 77

1. Missouri is good. Very good. The entered the game with a 126 offensive efficiency. Against Villanova, the Tigers put up a very impressive 117. Defensively they allowed a 103 efficiency to Villanova but did force the wildcats into a 22% turnover percentage rate. Frank Haith does not employ a full court pressing defense with this Missouri team. Rather, he’s decided to use a tough man-to-man defense that disrupts offenses an creates turnovers in a half court setting. Offensively he has a solid sharpshooter in Marcus Denmon, a game-high 28 point scorer on 6 of 10 three point shooting. Kim English is a capable guard and scoring threat. At the point Phil Pressey handed out 12 assists while committing just three turnovers in 24 minutes. Inside there is one key player. Ricardo Ratliffe is solid and the 6-8 forward made his presence known against Villanova with a 17 point 11 rebound outing. “Missouri is a tough team,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “They are so quick to the ball and rebound very well. They are the type team that can play four guards and be very successful at it.”

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Villanova Wildcats 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 11, 2011 in Conference Notes

Villanova Wildcats


Last Year:

21-12 overall, 9-9 Big East (T-9th)


Jay Wright (11th season, 224-110)

Projected starting five:

G: Maalik Wayns, Jr.
G: James Bell, So.
F: Dominic Cheek, Jr.
F: Maurice Sutton, Jr.
C: Mouphtaou Yarou, Jr.

Important departures:

Corey Fisher 15.6 ppg, 2.8, rpg, 4.8 apg, 33.4 mpg
Corey Stokes 14.9, 3.3 rpg, 33.0 mpg
Antonio Pena 9.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 32.8 mpg

Inside the numbers:

43 percent scoring returning
56 percent rebounding returning


G: Tyrone Johnson, 6’3”, 185 – Rivals #52
G: Achraf Yacoubou, 6’3”, 200 – Rivals #126
C: Markus Kennedy, 6’9”, 270


Toughest nonconference game: 12/6 at (25) Missouri
Toughest in-conference stretch: 1/25 – 2/5 at (8) Louisville, vs. (21) Marquette, at (11) Pittsburgh


10th in BE; 20 wins; NCAA Tournament Bubble

What to expect:

Villanova is flying under the radar in the Big East coming into 2011 mostly because of the departure of the Coreys – Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes. The Wildcats also said goodbye to Antonio Pena. Losing three of their top four scorers as well as Isaiah Armwood (transfer), Nova will rely heavily on Maalik Wayns and Mouphtaou Yarou to carry the load.

Welcoming in four new recruits, Villanova does not have a senior on scholarship on their roster. While the future of basketball in Philly looks bright, Wildcat fans should rest assured that Jay Wright should have his team overachieving this year.

Aside from Yarou and Wayns, look for Maurice Sutton and Dominic Cheek to play a lot of minutes. The only question in the starting lineup is who will man the two-guard spot. James Bell looks to be getting the early go-ahead, but incoming freshman Tyrone Johnson and Achraf Yacoubou could be inserted into the lineup as the year goes on.

Next: West Virginia Volunteers

Back to Big East preview

NIT Season Tip-Off: Five points of Emphasis

by - Published November 29, 2010 in Columns

:NEW YORK CITY – With all that is going on off the court, some of us forgot a simple fact: Tennessee is a very good basketball team. They shifted the action from the background to what is happening on the floor by capturing the Pre-Season NIT at Madison Square Garden.

The Semifinal Scores:

Tennessee 77, VCU 72
Villanova 82, UCLA 70

VCU 89, UCLA 85

Tennessee 78, Villanova 68

Five points of emphasis from the Pre-Season NIT:

1. Tennessee is not only resilient but talented. Despite the ongoing drama in Knoxville regarding coach Bruce pearl, the Volunteers came to New York and just concentrated on one thing: playing basketball at a high level. Pearl commented after the VCU game on what great things the Rams do and how much fun it was preparing for them. The Tennessee coach said the same thing about Villanova. Pearl, quite frankly, wanted to put all of these off the floor issues aside for now. Not dwelling on them does not mean they will go away. But for now Pearl is thrilled to be doing what he loves best: breaking down tapes, planning and preparing with his staff.

2. Villanova needs a plan B, Jay Wright admitted after the Tennessee game. There will not be many nights when Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns and Corey Stokes for that matter are all shut down and not as effective. But when those days do come, Villanova will have to try a different approach. Admittedly, shutting down the Villanova backcourt like Tennessee did will not happen often. But it could happen in Big East and/or post-season and Wright wants to be prepared. Both nights Mouphtaou Yarou came through for Villanova. He scored in double figures both nights and against UCLA the 6-10 sophomore had 16 rebounds and three blocks. Wright likes Yarou’s defensive presence as it gives the guards the opportunity to defensively gamble knowing there is a “stopper” to guard the basket. His offense, as well as that of Antonio Pena and Dominic Cheek (both had good outings in the final), is going to figure very much into Wright’s plans down the road.

3. VCU will be tough to contend with in the Colonial. They earned a split in New York and showed some impressive attributes both nights out. VCU loves the three-pointers and transition. The uptempo offense of coach Shaka Smart relies on 38 percent of its scoring from beyond the arc. Often these three-point attempts are uncontested as the Rams attempt them in half court or out on the break. Their pace is a rapid 75 possessions per game and they utilize those possessions with a very impressive 111 offensive efficiency. This is a team not wildly running or bombing from three. There is an inside presence in Jamie Skeen. Prior to coming to New York, the 6-9 senior asked his teammates to get him the ball more. “When more is given, more is expected,” Smart said with a biblical theme regarding the request. Skeen delivered both nights, especially with a team-high 23-point outing against UCLA, earning him all-tournament honors. Not the last honor VCU will see this season.

4. UCLA showed heart. Down 15 at the half in the semifinal against top ten Villanova. Three time zones from home. It seemed like a time to think consolation game. To their credit, the Bruins tightened the defense, kept their composure and had it to a two-possession game midway through the final half before Villanova went on a game-sealing run. In the third place game the Bruins competed hard for 40 minutes before dropping a close one to VCU. What the Bruins have to do is avoid slow starts. They suffered through them in both contests in New York. They also need contributions from Malcolm Lee, Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson on a nightly basis. Against Villanova, Honeycutt (a 15 PPG scorer) came up with only eight points on 3-8 shooting. The Pac-10 is relatively balanced this season. There are games that are “winnable” through extra effort and outplaying opponents. Here UCLA showed the effort. Now if they can avoid those slow starts.

5. Tennessee can defend. Scotty Hopson is a threat on the perimeter or in the paint. Tobias Harris can slash and score. Brian Williams, at 6-10 cleans the offensive glass for put backs. Make no mistake, Bruce Pearl’s club is anything but one-dimensional. The defense by the Vols in the two games was quite impressive. Villanova entered the game with a 119 offensive efficiency, but was held to 93 by an active, harassing Tennessee defense. In fact, Tennessee held both opponents under 100 offensive efficiency as VCU managed just a 90 OE in the semifinals. In the final Hopson bothered the Villanova guards all night with his quickness and length. Villanova did struggle offensively in the championship. Blame that on the Vol defense.


Jamie Skeen (VCU)
Reeves Nelson (UCLA)
Mouphtaou Yarou (Villanova)
Tobias Harris (Tennessee)
Scotty Hopson (Tennessee) – MVP

College Basketball Tonight

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, who will be joined by former Manhattan and Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show will air on AM 970 The Answer in New York City from 7-9 p.m. on every Sunday from Selection Sunday to the Final Four. You can listen to the show here.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by


Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by


The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by


Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

2013 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: St. Andrew's
Sept 10: Tilton
Sept. 11: South Kent School and Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 12: Putnam Science Academy
Sept. 16: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 17: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 23: New Hampton School
Sept. 24: Brimmer and May
Sept. 25: Proctor Academy
Sept. 26: Notre Dame Prep and Cushing Academy
Sept. 29: Worcester Academy and Vermont Academy
Oct. 6: Charlestown High School and Milton Academy
Oct. 13: Tabor Academy
Oct. 15: Brooks School

Hoopville Archives

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Cesar Fulcar commits to Wentworth

The senior guard led Watertown to the state semifinal this past season

Travel team profile: Bay State Magic

Bay State Magic doesn’t have much size on their junior team this season, so they’ll have to win with execution and intangibles

Travel team profile: Mass Elite

Mass Elite is one of the largest travel teams in the state despite being relatively new

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is already moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter