Welcome to the Sweet Sixteen: Villanova Wildcats vs. Duke Blue Devils

By Matthew Crawford and Chris Fujimoto

Photos by Pat DiLoretoimg_4734

9 Minutes to Tip-off: Chris Fujimoto and I are in our press seats, finally, after a long drive from Villanova. Sadly, that is all they are – seats. We have no desk or power outlets. This laptop of mine will potentially run out of power before the game is over. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining; it just shows the magnitude of the game and the amount of media in the TD BankNorth Garden of Boston. The building seems to be dominated by Villanova fans. A loud chant erupted from the student section – “Let’s Go Nova” during the final minute of the Pittsburgh – Xavier game – which the Panthers won, 61-55.

6 Minutes to Tip-off: The Wildcats have just reemerged onto the court, with a contingent of cheerleaders with the Villanova flags. The Villanova band sounds good and is loud enough – although that is most likely because we are sitting only a few yards away from them.  Note: don’t forget to check back late tonight or tomorrow for great photos from the camera of Pat DiLoreto!

Game Time

20:00 – Game Time – Great Let’s Go Nova chants, this is the best I have ever seen Villanova fans travel. Then again, it is the Sweet 16. Villanova loses the tip. Cunningham on Singler. Scottie on Scheyer (mismatch?)

19:30 – 3 pointer for John Scheyer who was left relatively open by Reynolds. Sigh. Wildcats just missed a shot and were unable to corral the rebound. Foul on Reggie Redding.

18:20 – Missed wide open jumper by Dante but a quick put back by Dwayne Anderson for 2 points. Steal by Dante and a GIANT DUNK!! Dante shows he ain’t messing around. Scottie 3 – pointer off of great passing! Score: 7 – 5

16:20 – Shane put back of Dante jumper! Huge put back!  Steal on the other end by Scottie – pass by Duke was virtually right into Scottie’s hands. Also, it does not appear that Reynolds is guarding Scheyer anymore. Chris Fujimoto realized the mismatch first, and then, apparently Jay Wright realized it as well.

15:10 – Duke is having trouble getting Blue Devil big man, Zoubek, the ball down low. Referees are letting the teams play physical, but have called a few soft fouls on Villanova  – and now a soft fould on Villanova. Mistake pass/ bad hands by Shane – Dwayne gets the ball and DUNKS it!!

14:50 – Well I thought Alec Baldwin was sitting directly behind me but Fujimoto says it doesn’t look a thing like Baldwin – perhaps when Alec was skinnier.

14:00 – Villanova is getting killed on the boards. Scheyer sells the foul on a three-point attempt and Fisher is called for the foul. Scheyer makes 2 of his 3 free throws. Scottie mid-range shot on the other end for 2 points. Score: 13 – 9.

13:45 – Who just saw us on TV when Scottie felt like running into the crowd? Anyone?  Nice board by Dwayne but no points on the other end. On the missed shot – Dwayne did not even attempt the offensive rebound in his area.

11:40 – Alright, timeout. If you only were going to this basketball game for the Duke cheerleaders, you might wish we were still playing UCLA. Or VCU. Or Texas A & M. Well I guess this quick post just shows that there is nothing to blog about during a timeout. If only I could get into that team huddle.

11:00 – Not much has happened. So far, quite a low scoring game. Stoke is in the game – is it only a matter of time until he starts dropping 3’s? Duke has had pretty solid defense around the perimeter. Fisher just took the ball himself and drew the foul on an attempted mid range jumper.

9:30 – On a defensive rebound, Fisher nearly tipped the ball into the basket. A few calls against Villanova – travel, failed to call an obvious foul on duke and then a foul called on Stokes. Score: 15 – 13. Its a close game so far. Dwayne just put the ball in the basket for 2.

7:00 – Hard foul by Dwayne Anderson. Rollie Massimino sitting about 10 seats down in our row. Nice cut for the score by Reggie Redding. Score: 21 – 16.

6:10 – Missed three pointer by Fisher. Accidental foul by Dante Cunningham. Scheyer misses the free throw. Scottie Reynolds misses a layup he should have had at the other end. Three Pointer by Singler. Attempted 3 by Stokes – offensive reobund by Reggie Redding – Dante puts it in the basket and is fouled in the process. He drills the free throw. Score: 24 – 19.

4:45 – Great defense by Villanova! Shot clock violation by Duke after a desperate last second 3-point attempt and airball. On the next Duke possession, the clock nearly expires again and Duke is forced to take a desperate, deep 3-point attempt. Foul on Duke on the other end.

2:00 – Stokes get fouled hard and makes the basket…no wait, the referee called a charge on poor Corey. Very very questionable. Still, an impressive play for Stokes nonetheless.

1:00 – Villanova over the limit of fouls after Reynolds’ foul of Henderson. Henderson makes both. Fisher – Dante attempt the alley oop – Fisher’s pass a bit too high to handle.

0:00 – Score: 26 – 23, Villanova at the half.

2nd Half

17:50 – Sorry I didn’t blog for the first few minutes of the half. I’m drinking my exremely necessary dose of Monster energy drink – of course in  a Vitamin Water cup. Wonder how much they paid for those advertising rights. Well, Villanova has jumped out to a 7 point lead, 32 – 25, Scottie’s hand is taped up…good layup by Shane…and that’s all you need to know for now.

17:40 – Foul on Shane Clark, Villanova must watch its fould in the 2nd half. Just called another consecutive foul on Shane. Thats 3 on Shane – 2 within the matter of 5 seconds. Another foul, this time on Dante. Pena is coming in. Not great news, but perhaps made better by the fact that Nolan Thomas just missed his first free throw. Nova ball.

17:15 – DUNK by PENA!!!! …Dunk by Duke…Dante couldn’t hold on to the rebound behind his back.

16:58 – Foul on Henderson. And a Duke player gets rapped up inside the Villanova team hugging. Hahaha. Had to see it to believe it.

16:05 – A lot of missed calls and bad calls favoring Duke by this crew of officials. The Nova crowd is LOUD. On a battle for the ball on the Villanova offensive end, Villanova comes away with it. Timeout. Score: 36 – 26.

15:45 – Paulus is in for Duke for the first game. “Paulus, where ya been?” screams a fan behind me. Stokes with a nice lay up for 2 points. Paulus with a 3 pointer. Sighhhh. So that’s why they brought in the former overrated recruit. Offensive foul on Stokes, his 3rd. Once again, very questionable….pass to nothing but air by Greg Paulus.

14:55 – Scottie goes down after getting tripped for a foul. He’s in pain and goes to the bench, grimmacing quite noticably. Fisher replaces him.

14:45 – Great 2 point put in by Reggie Redding! Dante with a 2 point lay-in! Score 42 – 29! Corey Fisher drives down the court after a Villanova defensive rebound. Gets fouled by Henderson. That is four fouls on Henderson!

13:30 – Shane Clark with a 2…and 1!!!!  2 points by Duke on a lucky tip in. Timout. Score: 45 – 33.

12:40 – Scottie is back in the game. Most likely just has bruised knee which has been bothering him for the past week or so, and he banged it again. Nothing to worry about, but its not like he is going at 100% either – even though the effort is there, his injuries do bother him. Just be happy he has never been injured any worse than a few bumps and bruises with all the diving around he does.

111:30  – Nova cannot seem to make any 3’s. 2 attempts by Fisher and Scottie, both looked good when they left the player’s hand but did not drop. Timeout. Villanova leads by 14 points with 10:40 left on the clock. Shane has just racked up his 4th personal foul.

10:30 – Scottie is getting good looks and every shot looks like it is going to go. He is maybe a millimeter off. Cunningham fouled on the attempted put back.  Dante shoots 2/2. Another shot by Scottie, however, this time it was pretty poor shot selection by Reynolds, especially with Fisher relatively open on the wing, but a pass that far would have been ill advised as well. Still, Scottie needs to have better clock management.

9:20 – Reynolds makes his first free throw, as well as the second. Nice pass, Scottie to Redding and drills the wide open 3 pointer!

9:15 – Dante is on the bench being looked at by the team doctor. I don’t know what happened but looks like he is applying ice to his knee. Wait…literally 5 seconds after applying the ice, he gets up and checks into the game. So cannot be that bad of an injury, thank God. Just a bruise.

7:50 – Fisher misses both of his free throws – each ball spun around the rim a bit and just unbelievable they did not go in. Bad luck for Fisher.

7:15 – Paulus is back in for Duke. Such a goofy guy. Duke misses 2 three pointers, one by Paulus. Foul on McClure. Henderson is in the game with 4 fouls. Stokes makes both of his free throws. Such a smooth shot he’s got. Drilled both of them perfectly. 4 fouls on Dwayne Anderson. Clark coming in for Anderson – Clark has 4 fouls himself.

6:20 – Scottie makes both of his free throws. Villanova is up 16. Scottie makes a 3 pointer after Stokes misses his attempt. Foul on Duke on their offensive rebound attempt. Dante makes 1/2. Score: 64 – 46. Villanova looks to stretch the lead to 20, but Henderson just made his 1st basket of the game, a 3 pointer.

6:00 – A “Taylor King!” chant just broke out in our student section. If he is here, wherever he is in the stands, he is definitely pumping up all the Nova fans around him. Not allowed to be on the bench in the NCAAs, but he is definitely a huge presence in the crowd, as he showed at the UCLA game. Don’t know for sure who his friends are on Duke, but I can’t imagine him clapping for Duke at all.

4:45 – Cunningham makes the layup and gets fouled but he misses the FT. Dante has a double-double for the game.

4:15 – Shane fouls out.

3:45 – Good passing by Nova, running the clock a bit. I am so incredibly tired. Score is 68 – 50, Villanova has the 18 point lead with 3:42 left. Looking like I will be enjoying a great day in Boston with some Boston-area college friends tomorrow. Attend a bit of the team’s practice, and sleep in late.

3:30 – Let’s Go Nova!!! Villanova playing a bit lazy and tired these last few minutes, but should not be of great concern. They played hard and battled through bumps and bruises and bad calls all night.

2:20 – Stokes drills a 3!! with hands in his face. Scottie also made his own offensive rebound. Duke is playing like a very defeated bunch of very “blue” Devils.

2:10 – Cunningham comes out for Pena and receives a standing ovation. Pena is fouled after an all-too-easy rebound off of Stoke’s attempted 3 point shot. The scoreboard just called the game, even though about 2 minutes are left. haha Pena makes both of his free throws.

1:25 – Why am I still blogging this much at this point? Maybe because I am so excited and tired. Colenda and Tchuisi are in the game. “We Want Pitt!!!!” chants are heard from the student section. 2 points for Big Frank! A nice tip in. “Overrated” chants are heard – but to that I say “No Shit.”

:07 0 Tchuisi Dunk!!!!!

Final Score: 77 – 54


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