A 45 Point Winning Margin...It Was Not That Close
About 13 minutes into the first half Lafayette turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. Maalik Wayns brought the ball up the court and after several passes around the perimeter between Wayns, Dominic Cheek and Corey Stokes, Villanova's sophomore point guard penetrated to just inside the foul line and kicked to an open Corey Stokes positioned at the three point line between the elbow and the top of the key. Stokes did not convert, clanging the shot off the front of the rim, where Armwood gathered the ball and fired it back outside to Cheek. Cheek attempted a pass to Armwood now straddling the foul line, but the pass was deflected and after a scramble and a few tips Wayns scooped it up and retreated to the perimeter to reset the offense. Cheek cut to the foul line, and presented himself to Wayns for a pass, but the point guard lofted the ball well above Cheek and the foul line area into Armwood set up in the low post. Armwood was slow to elevate, and a Lafayette player deflected the pass back towards the foul line, where Cheek deflected it again back to Armwood who, having returned to the low post, out jumped his Lafayette defender, brought the pass down, elevated and dropped the ball through the basket. The sequence took 1:10 off the clock and pushed the home team's lead up to 21. Possession after possession, the Wildcats beat the Leopards with speed, quickness and athleticism.
The Leopards managed to whittle their deficit down to 11 by the 2:31 mark, but the Wildcats took a 7-2 run that closed out the half, taking an 18 point edge, 38-20, into the locker room.
I guess your team has arrived when none of the five blogs created to cover the team, posts a story about the biggest blowout in three seasons (the Rider game, in December 2007 was a 47 point win, 108-61). Brian at VUhoops.com did note in his pregame post, that Layafette's long time head coach, Fran O'Hanlon, is a Villanova graduate (class of '70) and a backcourt legend. The most heated discussion in the comments section was whether Brian's characterization of the anticipated blowout was pc. Yup, the Wildcats are big-time.
The official website posted the official boxscore and the ever-accurate AP wire story. The breakdown by halves...
I usually highlight the good stats with green and the bad ones with red. Just assume if the stat above is not colored red that it is green. First half problems on the offensive boards, surprising given the absolute dominance of the Villanova front court, and the letdown on turnovers (Lafayette's, not Villanova's), netting only 12.5% turnover rate versus the Leopards and three point shot conversion were the problem areas tonight, though in a 45 point win it seems a stretch to complain. Ken Pomeroy may project a 14-15 record for Lafayette this season (very much at odds by the way, with the Blue Ribbon Yearbook prediction of a #1 finish for Coach Hanlon's Leopards in Patriot League play), but this game is simply off the charts good. By tradition a victorious Roman general would, after winning a war, would be honored with a procession -- a victory parade -- through the center of the Eternal City. The Senate (the governing body) would assign a young man to ride in the general's chariot and as the nearly million citizens cheered the victorious general (yes Rome of the ancient world had a population of nearly one million), to continuously whisper in his ear a reminder that he was merely a man. This was a great win, but on a night when the team could, apparently, do nothing wrong, it is good to remember there are tougher opponents and more hostile playing venues in the season ahead.
Notes & Observations
1. Consistent with a blowout, 10 players saw the court, with no player logging more minutes than senior point guard Corey Fisher (72.5% of the available minutes). The nucleus of the rotation, Stokes, Pena, Wayns, Cheek and Yarou (Fisher already noted...) logged between 50% and 65% of the time. Sophomore forward Isaiah Armwood also logged 65% of the available minutes as well.
2. Wayns (29.9), Stokes (29.9) and Fisher (22.6) were the principle options on offense, though Yarou (20.7) was a reliable 3rd option. Possessions showed an even larger gap between Wayns (39.8), Fisher (26.9), Stokes (28.4) and the rest of the squad. Stokes and Fisher used their possessions efficiently. Stokes, in scoring 19 points on 12 field goal attempts (a 1.47 PPWS) while handing out three dimes, turned in the kind of performance Villanova fans have waited three seasons to see. Can he do this night-in and night-out? Fisher scored 16 points on 11 field goal attempts, logging a 1.29 PPWS. Wayns had problems from the field, scoring 10 points on 12 field goal attempts.
3. Sophomore center Mouphtaou Yarou logged his first double-double as a Villanovan, scoring 12 points on 6-9 shooting while gathering 12 rebounds (6-6-12) in 26 minutes of play.
Freshmen James Bell and JayVaughn Pinkston were DNP again. Bell warmed up, but did not see game action. He might be several weeks away from a medical clearance to resume play. Pinkston appeared before a University hearing board Friday to review/answer for the off campus incident that led to his suspension. The board decision may (or may not) come next week.