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Villanova Postgame Chat

Jay always looks dapper, unlike the Orange.
Before the game I answered some questions for the Villanova blog I Bleed Blue and White. Now that the game is done, Chris from the site was nice enough to answer some questions for me after the fact. Thanks to Chris, and if you need to keep tabs on Villanova, check out his blog.
1. Orange::44: Dante Cunningham had a ridiculous day. Were you surprised by that, or did you expect him to have a good day against the Orange?

Chris: I wasn't really surprised that he had a good game since he's been the most consistent player for us this year, but I was a little surprised at how efficient he was. 12-15 from the floor is really good for a big man. I knew going into the game that with Onuaku inside and with Cuse's zone, you weren't going to see Cunningham trying to bang down low. He drew out the bigs and knocked down those 15-footers all day and looked good doing it. He's worked really hard on his shot and it's paid off for him. The key for him now is to not fall in love with it, because there are days when it's not falling like that.

2. Orange::44: It seemed in the first half that Villanova could not miss. Do you think they were just on, or was there a visible weakness in the Syracuse defense?

Chris: There's no doubt that Villanova was on fire Saturday. Their shooters weren't killing it from outside but they made their living with quick ball movement and knocking down open jumpers when they got space. I think Onuaku and Jackson hurt Syracuse there. Didn't seem like they could keep up with Cunningham's movement throughout the zone. He was open for 10-15 footers all day.

Moreso though, they didn't let Syracuse set up their defense. They went out and pushed the pace and try to get off shots quickly. I think they didn't want to get into a half-court game and settle for 3's. By pushing the pace they were able beat 'Cuse's men down the floor and they had a great day finishing around the hoop. Corey Fisher was outstanding in this area. He was a big reason why Villanova had such a great day offensively. Overall though, Villanova has just been smoking hot on offense the last week. They are really clicking.

3. Orange::44: Scottie Reynolds had a pretty tame game with only ten points. Any particular reason for this?

Chris: Well, it wasn't for a lack of trying. He finished with 10 points on 3-11 shooting, and seemingly had no influence on the game. I was going to say that he has made an effort to become "the floor general" instead of the superstar scorer (which is still true) but his shot attempts suggest he was actively looking to score. So it sounds like he just didn't have a good day shooting the basketball.

One of the things I think Scottie is struggling with this year is trying to change his style. He was cut loose as a freshman and basically told to be "the man." Now he is being relied on to be a leader and the transition has been a bit of a struggle for him. He's not looking for his shot as much and it's not coming naturally to him, thus causing him to force up some bad shots. The talent is still there though as evidenced by games against Seton Hall (40 points) and PC (31 points). Execution just seems to be a problem on a night to night basis.

4. Orange::44: What do you think was Syracuse's biggest problem on Saturday?

Chris: I thought they just didn't match the intensity that Villanova had from the start. I think Flynn's pre-game remarks fired up guys like Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson. Those guys take a lot of pride in this team and don't take well to jabs like that. Villanova came out and just blitzed Syracuse and built a huge lead which 'Cuse could never overcome. Syracuse made a few runs, but unlike the PC game, they had an answer whenever Syracuse made a bid, or 'Cuse hurt themselves (like when they got T'd up). I think Onuaku being a complete non-factor hurt too. I couldn't really tell from where I was sitting, but it seemed to me that Syracuse completely ignored him down low on offense and settled for jumpers too much. He had just 2 shots I think.

5. Orange::44: Finally, how do you see the game on the 22nd at Syracuse going down?

Chris: Frankly, that rematch worries me. The way 'Nova is playing, they will probably have a tourney spot sewn up by then, and Syracuse will still be fighting to secure their spot. Hopefully, the game is meaningful to 'Nova in the fact that they will be fighting for a Top 4 seed in the BET, otherwise we could be looking at a similar result to Saturday's game, with the teams on opposite ends of the result.

Ultimately, I see a hungry Syracuse team coming out and surprising 'Nova and roughing them up a bit. Hopefully that doesn't happen, but right now I envision a scenario like that.
Thanks again to Chris, and we'll see what happens in the Carrier Dome on the 22nd.

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