"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Opportunity wasted: VU 72 - MU 67

For all but about six minutes today, MU (16-7) proved itself to be as good as one of the best teams in the Big East. Unfortunately, three of those minutes were at the end of the game, when the Wildcats of Villanova (#4, 17-2) turned a 7 point deficit into a five point lead.

For the first three minutes of the game, Villanova looked to be running Marquette out of the house, looking good and going up by the score of 13-4. For the next 30 minutes, MU dominated play. Starting with a 19-3 run, MU build and maintaned a lead that varied between 5 and 10 points for most of the game. That is, until one wild stretch beginning with about 3 ½ minutes to go when Villanova used a 12-0 run to take a five point lead with 1:49 remaining.

Over that stretch, Villanova was rebounded a missed free throw, was fouled (and made 2 free throws) on the ensuing play, made another basket, then then retook the lead on an Allen Ray 3-point basket.

MU wasn't quite done--back to back layups by James and McNeal brought MU to within 1. Two Villanova free thows extended the lead to 3 with under :30 to go, setting up the chance for MU to tie at the end of regulation. Steve Novak got a good look at a three point shot, but missed it, and Villanova recovered the ball with 2.8 seconds.

After an MU foul on Dominic James, Nardi hit two free thows to close out the scoring.

MU got off to a shaky start, finding themselves down 13-4 early on a pair of Allen Ray threes and some surprising inside play from the Wildcats. Meanwhile, MU got some good open looks, but missed many easy shots, including a Kinsella tip in attempt, a McNeal drive, and even some missed Novak jumpers. At the same time, MU couldn’t hang onto the ball, with several early turnovers.

MU roared back into the lead with a 19-3 run. A pair of Novak free throws brought MU back within one, and MU took their first lead thanks to seven straight points and a nice defensive stand from Dominic James--first a lay up, then taking a charge, then another basket and capping the effort with a three to put MU up 21-15.

MU then protected the ball well, and held Villanova to under 30% shooting, and only 2 of 13 from the 3 point line, extending the lead to as large as nine points. Villanova had one more run in them, taking advantage of a flurry of MU turnovers to narrow the margin to a single point. MU built their lead back to 5 at the half--MU 33, Villanova 28

Novak led four Marquette players in double figures with 18, and Allen Ray had 28 for Villanova.

Coach Tom Crean's post-game comments:
--Disappointed—it was important for our team to understand that we can play with anybody. Now we have to learn how to win against anybody.
--Proud of the determination, courage, toughness and determination. Now need to take some steps to become a better team.
--Good defense—did some things differently based on their lineup.
--The rebound on their missed FT was huge.
--We got exactly the look we wanted at the end, taken by the guy we wanted. Against ND we made the shot, today we didn’t.
--We have lots of guys who have confidence that they’ll make that shot.
--20 extra FT’s for Villanova probably didn’t hurt their chances.
--We knew when we saw VU 4 years ago that they’d be a good team if they stuck together, and here they are--#4 in the nation.
--Tough atmosphere in the locker room, because everyone came into today’s game thinking we can win.
--On Dwight Burke: Family was at the game today, wish he could have given him more playing time in the 2nd half. He’s getting better, and did a fine job today.
--On Wesley Matthews: “Dream date” to have him back this early. He’ll get better and make plays for us before the end of the year.
--On Fitz and leaving the game: He’s okay. We have tough players—we need to be tough to win in this league.

CNN-SI Box Score

ESPN Coverage

PhillyBurbs.com coverage: Another great escape.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinal coverage here

The Richmond, IN Palladian Iten continues to give MU (and Dominic James) great coverage

Finally, check out MU's own site

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just want to add that I was disappointed that Amoroso didn't play much while Osmane looked sooo sloooow "live". Finally got to see the guys play out here in the East and it was a sad loss for this alum.