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Villanova Q&A with VU Hoops

Time for round two, this time in Philly.
Syracuse is in Philadelphia tomorrow for the rematch against Villanova, one of the three teams they play twice this season. We did a Q&A for the last game, so this game is no exception. But we give you another blogger’s perspective. We caught up with Brian from He was nice enough to answer my questions. Let’s get to it.

1. Orange::44: Villanova beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome earlier this year. What areas did Villanova find success and what was the difference in the game?

Brian: The Wildcats had a great shooting performance in that game, and the ability to connect on 11 3-point shots. It's hard to lose when you shoot that well. Early success in that game was largely a product of shooting over the zone, but later in the game they were able to penetrate as well.

2. Orange::44: Corey Stokes has been out injured the last few games. What is the latest on his injury and do you see him playing against Syracuse?

Brian: Stokes has told reporters and fellow students that he would return for this game. He was out with the team prior to the DePaul game for the shoot-around, and that is clearly a good sign. When he was pulled from the Rutgers game I was pretty convinced he would be out for 2-3 weeks, however, so I'd still be a bit surprised if he were able to play a significant role tomorrow night.

3. Orange::44: Villanova lost at Rutgers and struggled against DePaul. What were the issues with Villanova in those games?

Brian: Turnovers absolutely killed Villanova in Piscataway. Most of the game was fine, but the 'Cats managed to commit a number of late turnovers in a 20 second stretch that got Rutgers right back into the game. The foul at the end of regulation was icing on the cake in that one. The 'Cats never really pulled away against Rutgers, and that made those turnovers more deadly.

Against DePaul it was really a lack of scoring. For most of the team, the shots just weren't falling on Saturday. Four players attempted a three-pointer against DePaul, but only Corey Fisher actually netted one (he had 5). Villanova has had games like that before, and they need to find ways to compensate.

4. Orange::44: Corey Fisher is a good player but doesn't seem to get the acclaim that other Big East guards have been getting this season. Why not, and does he deserve more?

Brian: He was named a Cousy Award finalist, which is a pretty high honor. He hasn't had the type of season that Kemba Walker has had though, and largely that might be because there are other scoring options on the team (and for much of UConn's season, there wasn't).

DePaul was really his "Breakout" game, in my opinion, as the first one where he really just took over and won the game for Villanova. He has had other tremendous games here and there, but none where he really seemed to just will his team to a win like that.

He has definitely been deserving of some acclaim, but I'm not sure that he had ever been as important to Villanova as Kemba Walker is to UConn or Austin Freeman is to Georgetown.

5. Orange::44: It seems despite their stumble against St. John's that Pittsburgh is the team to beat in the league this season. Do you think they are the best team in the league, and if not who?

Brian: Nobody in college right now is unbeatable, but Pitt has been one of the toughest opponents in Big East play by far. Everyone has picked up a few losses in-conference so far, and Pitt's have come against some pretty good teams.

St. Johns isn't the patsy we have become used to in the last few years. Pitt shouldn't be embarrassed that they went into St. John's home court and dropped a close one.

6. Orange::44: What will be the key match-ups Monday? What can Syracuse do to change the outcome in their favor?

Brian: With Stokes out, I am most interested in seeing Mouph Yarou fight with Rick Jackson on the boards. It should also be interesting to see Scoop Jardine take on either Wayns or Fisher.

The 'Cats have had trouble with turnovers recently and the best way for Syracuse to go after Nova is to challenge and look to force turnovers. Antonio Pena has been playing more on the perimeter than had been the case in the past, and he really isn't a tremendous ball-handler. When pressured on the ball, he will either turn it over or (if Nova is lucky) call a time-out.

Getting out ahead early also helps. Wayns and Fisher are far more likely to cough the ball up when they feel the need to force plays to get back into a game.

Thanks to Brian for taking the time. You can read more from him on Villanova at You can also follow him on Twitter @brianisawesome. Check out the answers to my questions here, along with the usual Philadelphia ridiculousness in the comments. You stay classy Philly! John will have the Villanova preview later today so stay tuned.

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