Editor’s Note: Patrick Ciapciak also contributed to this piece. His commentary is in italics.
2:22 – Time to do big in the Dunk. Let’s get it boys!
Also, Bentil is playing… So how much of an underdog are we?
I mean Vegas still has us at 5 pt favorites even with the knowledge that Ben Bentil will probably play and Ochefu won’t. I trust the gambling men.
Here’s the thing: Bentil will be playing like Grosselles was in the Creighton game. He’ll have the will to play but not the full ability to carry the team like he did in South Philly.
True. I completely overrated Geoffrey Grosselle’s injury in my Creighton preview and did not realize the extent of the injury. It truly hampered him. I don’t like to see injured stars, but I hope we see a hobbled Bentil. We might have to to have a shot.
So as I struggled to fall asleep last night in my excitement for this game, I was tallying up what we have going for us and what will be working against us. Here’s what I recall:
-Game is at the Dunk (Friars can’t win big games at home this year)
-Providence has the depth of a kiddie pool
-We shot our best 3-game ever last time out. Last time we saw that was the Xavier win on New Years Eve, which we followed with another hot shooting performance on the road in Omaha
-Bentil may be hobbled, but Kris Dunn is still going to be the best player on the court
-Providence is the best late, close game team in the country.
Those cons are certainly tough to overcome even if Providence is bad at home. Hopefully we can lockdown Dunn and control the game from there.
2:32 – We are underway in Providence! Let’s go ‘Cats!
When Ryan Arcidiacono hits a 3 to start a game, I’m pretty sure we can’t lose!
Darryl Reynolds with the O-Board too!
Darryl is more than stepping up. He’s proving he can play the big games like the big man he is.
Ed Cooley is scared by sending in Bentil.
Jalen Brunson from deeeeep! 10-0 timeout Friars! What a time…to be a Villanovan.
2:36 – And there goes the shutout…
Ok, guys, the threes, stop it
We’re getting dangerously close to getting comfortable just hacking up threes without even trying to drive inside.
A.k.a. the Old Offense
We lost to Oklahoma and Virginia with the Old Offense.
You never go Old Offense
2:38 – The shots are terrible. The refs are terrible. Never change, Big East.
Well, that was a hectic first four minutes, amirite?
I can feel the intensity from here. Fox Sports 1 must be thanking the Catholic 7 Gods for this start.
2:42 – DARRYL IS KILLING IT RIGHT NOW!
Will the transition defense ever be good? The world may never know.
Darryl with the midrange! He’s making himself a latter-day Mouphtaou Yarou
A late bloomer possibly?
2:44 – So are we going to finally go inside now?
It’s laughable how easy it is score when we drive inside. Doesn’t even matter who does it, but I think we can all agree we don’t win big games without hitting the paint.
That has always been a problem with Jay Wright coached teams. It’s a shame because we have great cutting guards.
I like how we’re finally slowing it down. You never want a fast-paced shootout when you’re the away team in a raucous arena. Momentum is a fickle beast that can turn against us faster than Benedict Arnold.
Just like a caged animal, you never screw with momentum.
2:48 – Under 12 timeout and all I can think about is if the MonSTARS took Phil Booth’s talent.
Daniel Ochefu trying to challenge Jay with that pink shirt combo? Not a chance.
Chef and Jay should open their own tailor shop. Every Villanovan would go their for their own suits.
Complements to the Chef: Spring line coming soon.
Friars are shooting as cold as a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. That won’t last.
Keep em coming sir!
2:54 – Redshirting has been the best thing for Mikal Bridges. What a freak athlete and player.
I’d like to chalk up this lead to the Friar student section. Is there a group of less intimidating fans in the Big East? Maybe DePaul. You can tell they only show up to the Dunk for hockey games.
Providence is just a weird town. It seems to have seeped into the school as well.
Providence is low-class town built by a convict mayor. The Italian mob is still more powerful than the police there, and Rhode Islanders wouldnt have it any other way.
2:57 – Kris Jenkins with the rejection on one end and silky smooth 3 on the other end. He has really stepped it up since the beginning of the year. One of the benefactors of going from the Old to New Offense.
Providence serving up some flops today. That’s egregious.
“Providence getting smacked around on their own court!” Gus Johnson, truer words have seldom been spoken.
I love it. Payback at it’s finest so far. You know how that saying goes with wining and dining? Yeah that.
3:02 – The Friars have a sub 15% shooting percentage. We know too well about that.
The cold hand can strike anyone, anytime. Home or away, you can’t win games missing shots inside like that.
The cold hand is the reason why we cannot get past the Round of 32.
Well, I guess Kris Dunn has something to say about that. We know he has the ability to take over the game. Got to neutralize him or we’ll lose this precious lead.
Cannot under any circumstances give him confidence. They’ll be right back in it.
3:06 – We are up by 17 in with less than four minutes to go. I cannot believe it. Everyone has stepped up so far.
Kris Dunn has scored the Friars’ last six points at least. This is what I was talking about!
Guys, can we not let them in this. K. Plz. Thnx.
Well it’s almost halftime so this is usually the time we let our lead go. See: Hall, Seton & Marquette.
Forgot about our end of half snafus. Yuck.
3:14 – These refs are bad and should feel bad.
The look on our faces reminds me of Indiana Jones’ when the walls were closing in around him.
Or when the walls where closing in on Luke Skywalker and Co. in that garbage dump. Never forget.
Speaking of garbage, that offensive possession though…
3:17 – It’s halftime and we are up double digits. Before the game, I sign up for that every day of the week and twice on Saturdays.
Absolutely. We were all nervous for this game but these guys have come out with an unprecedented first half performance when we needed it the most. Congrats, now let’s keep it up.
3:35 – And we’re back with a Darryl AND-1!!!`
More Reynolds mid-range!
There’s the Josh Hart reverse layup that wins us games! I’ll happily take a game of trading buckets when we have a lead like this.
Who needs Josh Hart when you have Darryl Freaking Reynolds!?!?
3:39 – NEVER GIVE UP JOSH HART, NEVER GIVE UP!
The hustle for the monster block! The only thing more Villanova than that is grit.
No. More. Grit.
Bridges is not just a pterodactyl. He’s become a cerebral player who passes the ball before his teammates are even moving. Must be that Main Line education.
3:45 – This is hell. Don’t let ‘em back in it. C’mon…
I don’t think it’d be a stretch to say that our rebounding is solely responsible for this lead. We’re shooting terribly and turning the ball over but we’re maintaining possession, and therefore the lead.
We are having too many sloppy possessions. The instant this becomes single digits we have a huge problem.
3:50 – Uhhh… did the real Wildcats get lost in the locker room?
These fouls on our part are adding up real fast. Can’t give them points when they can’t shoot.
Agree. The worst thing to do is to give them free points when they couldn’t hit a broadside of the barn.
3:53 – One quick tidbit before the timeout ends… Darryl Reynolds has more points than Dunn and Bentil combined *credits to Eugene on the stat*
That’s testament to how well this entire team has neutralized those two. Alex Greenberg, on College GameDay this morning, said that Nova will win this game if we can do just that. He’s right so far.
DARRYL REYNOLDS THE ULTIMATE BIG BOY LETS GOOOOO!!
OMG are we taking our lead back??
JOSH HART SAYS YES!
3:59 – The sound of silence at the Dunk. >>>>>
As sweet as a caramel coolatta.
4:02 – Gus: “If Villanova gets Ochefu back, they can easily make the Final Four.” Noooo don’t jinx us like that!!
The announcers jinx is real and should not be tampered with.
4:06 – The Friars mascot will forever haunt my dreams.
One look at that thing and you’ll have nightmares for the week. I guarantee it.
The Freddy Kruger of College basketball
4:09 – Of course it’s down to six. Transition 3 defense is still a joke. Way to go guys.
You had to know that they would start hitting those 3s. Now we have a game.
As much as I hate on our reliance on the 3s, I would like to see us shoot more right now. That’s how we put the Xavier game away. Hart, Archy, Jenks, Jalen: any one of these guys can hit one to help us get out of this mess.
Time for our shooters to shoot.
4:12 – So let’s drive to basket, have a chance for an easy layup, and kick it out. Genius.
CAN WE COVER THE 3 POINT LINE HOLY HELL
That’s three 3s in a row for Providence. Gotta cover the arc!
SHOOTERS SHOOT! ATTA BOY JENKINS!
Love it. See my point four lines up. Jenks can salvage this win with two 3s. That’s all we need.
Need a dagger. Too bad Kris Dunn is getting Dunn-calls. Just like LeBron and Odell-calls.
Know what really makes me nervous? As I said above, Providence is the best late close team in the country. The evidence is overwhelming. When it comes down to the final minute, these guys don’t lose.
Exactly my fear too. We need to have a double digit lead in the waning minutes. We cannot give the Friars any sense a comeback is possible. This would be a monumental loss if we cannot hold on.
I can already read the ESPN headlines: “Nova crumbles after 20 point lead! Overrated again?”
That’s ESPN way. Build us up, only to knock us down the instant any type of adversity comes our way. I hate them.
4:18 – We only have three free throw attempts on the day. I miss JVP.
That’s insane. Usually Archy draws enough fouls for our entire team. At least he’s doing it now!
That was the most stupid shot in history by Arch. Kill the frickin clock!
Literally just hold on to the ball! Pass it around like it’s a game of monkey in the middle!
The most clutch player to wear blue and white! Archy silences the crowd with a sniping 3!
AND THERE IS YOUR DAGGER!
It’s a love/hate relationship with Arch sometimes.
And the fouling begins. I can’t believe we kept that lead in the face of a flurry of Friar threes.
Our lead was too insurmountable. Even after that flurry we still had a comfy six point lead.
4:26 – Keeping it comfy.
This was probably our easiest game in the Dunk in our four years here.
The Dunk used to a house of horrors for whomever dared to enter. Now it’s a home away from home for any team worth their salt.
4:30 – AND IT’S FINAL! CATS ARE A WINNER BY A HEFTY 12 POINTS!
An absolute complete game played by our beloved Wildcats. Hart was doing Hart things but I think the hero is Darryl Reynolds. He was not expected to do much of anything today with or without Bentil playing. He casually puts up a double-double with 19 points. Insane.
Where to start? Praises all around. No one player single-handedly won this game. Darryl gets my game ball for getting us to forget about Ochefu. Archy closed it down the stretch with another clutch 3 though. Let’s not forget about Jay though. We started out hucking up 3s, but Jay changed the gameplan quickly enough to build up a lead we could maintain even when they were clawing back in.
I love it now that Jay is making the necessary in game adjustments. It has made this team better and achieve more than expected. Things were looking bleak after that Virginia loss. If we had kept that offense, we would not be #3 in the nation right now. We also always seem to have that one player that steps up and outperform the norm. Last game was Jenkins and today was Reynolds.
Everyone was laughing that we were ranked #3 to start the week. On Monday, we’ll be #2 and I think they deserve it. What other team can claim two top ten wins and only three losses, all to top ten teams? Oklahoma is still #1, but let’s hope some brave hero comes along to knock them off. Can you imagine Villanova at #1 to end the season?
They definitely deserve #2. We have been a powerhouse since conference play. However, I cannot see them jumping to #1 any time soon. Oklahoma is too good and even if they do lose, I’m not sure they drop them below Villanova, especially since they blew the Wildcats out. The kid in me would love to see that number “1” next to Villanova in the polls, though. Ever since I started watching in 2004, I’ve been waiting for that day. Not even the fabled 2005-2006 team with Foye, Ray, Lowry, and Nardi pulled off that feat.
Closing remarks: this team is for real. Of course I’m not going to make any March predictions, but today we just silenced the haters and cemented our #1 seed. Onward Nova!
With that, it is time to sign off. God speed Mr. Ciapciak. It has been a blast chatting with you.