Tuesday, February 14, 2006

 

Nova vs. UCONN and much more

For anyone that didn't watch Villanova and UConn go at it tonight, you missed quite the treat. I watched the game because I knew that tomorrow I'd be too busy entertaining roughly 22 different ladies, so there'd be no time for college basketball. Lucky for me I caught one of the most entertaining games of the year.

First off, a note about Villanova: Their tallest starter comes in at about 6 foot 8. After him, the height chart goes 6 foot 4, 6 foot 2, 6 foot 1, 6 foot 1. By contrast, UConn goes 6 foot 11, 6 foot 11, 6 foot 9, 6 foot 6, 6 foot 3. Seem like a mismatch to you? Yeah, me too--UConn had no chance. Kyle Lowry, who is one of the two Nova starters listed at 6'1", but is more like 5'11", was absurd throughout the first half. He basically eviscerated the Huskies defense like it wasn't even there. Marcus Williams, for all his laptop-stealing excellence, could do nothing to prevent Lowry from getting into the lane. He dropped 16 in the first half and repeatedly forced turnovers on the defensive end. (And to expound on that, UConn should be ashamed of its ballhandling for the entire game. Apparently, no one told any of their frontcourt players that the Wildcats' guards liked to sneak up from behind for steals. Pathetic.)

The opening minutes of the second half were a testament to why UConn is such a great team. They made the necessary adjustments, bottled up Lowry, and forced the Wildcats out of their comfort zone. During this time, Rudy Gay and crew racked up a few easy buckets, and poof, a 33-32 halftime deficit was very quickly turned into a 45-33 lead. Jay Wright called one timeout in the middle of the run, and when that didn't work, opted to let his guys play until the TV timeout. Uh, nice move Jay. Allan Ray, who in the first half couldn't have hit anything if you'd have given him a gun and called him Dick Cheney, suddenly came alive. Four three-pointers later, Villanova was down by 2 and the capacity crowd at the Wachovia Center, which by the way was the largest crowd to watch a college basketball game in PA history, was very much alive. Cue Mike Nardi, the fourth stooge, who had been felled by tonsillitis for the last two games. Nardi came down in transition off of a steal and spotted up for three. It couldn't go in. No way. Nardi hadn't made a shot all game. He wouldn't make another one. No matter. Bottom of the net. The crowd? They were cheering like they'd been told that Terrell Owens had fallen off of a cliff.

The rest of the way, it was unsung hero Will Sheridan that carried the load for the Wildcats, keeping the Huskies at bay on both ends. As the game progressed, Ray hit more huge shots, Sheridan hit everything else, and the Huskies, with a roster full of NBA first-rounders and big-name superstars, came unglued. Rudy Gay, for all his double-double brilliance (19 points, 10 rips) couldn't hit the big shot down the stretch when it mattered the most. A team with a height advantage so absurd it had to be seen to be believed couldn't handle the heat when Villanova brought it into the kitchen.

Credit the Wildcats for executing their trapping, pressing, turnover-forcing defense to absolute perfection. Credit Jay Wright for going with a 3-guard look for the majority of the game to take some of the Huskies inside advantage away, then going with the 4-guard balls to the wall lineup in the waning minutes. Most of all though, credit Villanova's fearsome 5, the toughest, most talented group this side of, well, UConn, for keeping the pressure constant and never backing down for a second. In this matchup of two teams who could very easily walk away from the Final Four as National Champions, it was the much-ballyhooed Huskies who proved to be shrinking violets.



Random Musings from inside my head:

What is the purpose of noting that every car given away on The Price is Right has as part of its options package "California emissions"? Would it be so bad if one of the cars had "Wyoming emissions"? Would Bob Barker's head fall off of his body if this happened? Would the models even know what to do? This needs to happen, and soon.

Secondly, and in fact, lastly, I just want to say that the Olympics would be a lot more fun if there was one live band that had to play every gold medal winner's national anthem at every single event, logistics be damned. Maybe then the Olympics would be even mildly watchable.


That's pretty much all, Happy Valentine's Day everyone, and on a personal note, you stay classy in Chicago SG.

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