Trade Imbalance …As first reported yesterday by VUHoops, Terry Toohey of the Times Herald confirms that "On the day Villanova officially announced the addition of transfers Tony Chennault (Wake Forest) and Dylan Ennis (Rice), center/forward Markus Kennedy revealed that he intends to transfer. If Kennedy transfers to a Division I school, he will have to sit out a year under NCAA regulations and will have three years of eligibility remaining. Mike DeCorcy of Sporting News writes that Kennedy got down to 260 as a freshman [and] continued to work on his body after the season and lost another 35 pounds. "I’m in much better shape now than I was at the end of last season and my scoring is coming along, so we’ll see." About Messrs. Chennault and Ennis, Mr. Toohey writes "The addition of Chennault and Ennis will help fill a void at point guard that was created when Maalik Wayns decided to forgo his senior season. Chennault, a 6-2 sophomore, has applied for a hardship waiver to the NCAA transfer rule. If granted, he will be eligible to play right away. He averaged 9.0 points and 2.8 assists for Wake Forest last season and has two years of eligibility Ennis, a 6-2 guard, averaged 8.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman at Rice. He set the freshman record with 144 assists and was named to the Conference USA All-Rookie team. He will have to sit out the 2012-13 season and will have three years of eligibility remaining." [Editor's Note: Cats fans have to hope that the loss of Cheek, Wayns and Kennedy will be more than offset by improved chemistry, passing and teamwork, or we might be in for another long season.]
Simply the Best … Villanova.com reports that "senior middle distance runner, Sheila Reid, ran a time of 4:10.73 in the National 1500 meters on Friday night in the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, eclipsing her previous personal best by more than one second. Reid, has qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines on June 6 – 9 and will be joined in Iowa by Villanova teammates Bogdana Mimic and Shericka Ward, both of whom are also making their third straight trips to the national meet." [Editor's Note: Can you think of a better representative of Villanova University sports since Matt Szczur?]
Speaking of Szczur … The Press of Atlantic City reports that Matt Szczur, center fielder for the Daytona Cubs, "was named an FSL all-star Friday. He is hitting .267 in 48 games, including .306 in his last 10, this season. He leads the league in runs (43) and stolen bases (19) and has an on-base percentage of .359. Szczur was one of four outfielders chosen for the North team for the June 16 all-star game."
Nothing Wrong with Turkey … Writing that former Villanova guard, Dominic Cheek, was among the six players to participate in the Sixers’ third pre-draft workout, the only thing the Inquirer’s John Mitchell had to say about Mr. Cheek was that he brought "a nice local flavor" to the workout. Tom Moore of Phillyburbs.com spoke with Cheek afterwards, who said, "It’d be great (to become a Sixer)," Cheek said. "Philly is like my second home." The Sixers were the first team Cheek worked out for and the only one he has scheduled so far.
It Beats Summer School … Donald Hunt of the Philadelphia Tribune reports that Maalik Wayns has been a bit busier than his old backcourt mate at Villanova, Dominic Cheek. "Wayns has a hectic schedule ahead of him. The NBA draft will be held on June 28. Said Wayns, "I worked out for the Sixers. I was just in New Jersey for the Nets’ Combine. "I’m headed to L-A right after this (workout) for the Clippers. Then, I’m going to Golden State (Warriors). Then, I got like 15 more (workouts). I talk to Kyle Lowry like two or three times a week. He always gives me good advice. He wishes good luck. He tells me what to do and what not to do."
Don’t Get Mad, Get Even … Mike DeCorcy of the Sporting news writes, "The bitter breakup between the Big East Conference and longtime members Syracuse and Pitt becomes more Kardashian on a daily basis. The latest dispute involves the two schools’ participation in the annual SEC/Big East Challenge, which last year morphed from a minor event involving a handful of teams from each league to a full slate of games involving nearly the entire roster of each league. Pitt and Syracuse are in the Big East for at least another year, so it stood to reason they might be involved in the 2012 event. Pitt — expecting a home game and holding a date — was excluded. Syracuse was assigned to play at Arkansas but insists it will not make the trip." Villanova will play at Vanderbilt on December 1.
Recipe For Developing Bigs…. Rob Dauster of NBC Sports interviewed Georgetown’s John Thompson about his secret sauce for developing Big Men. Says JTIII, "It’s all about making reads as much as it is learning a specific play," he said. "When you’re playing with a 24 second shot clock, the guy that will succeed is the guy that makes smart decisions more so than the guy running plays out of a set. At that point, you have to put a premium on playing together and making reads — being able to read the defense, being able to read how you’re being played, being able to read how your teammates are being played. That’s something that we put a premium on from the time they first start here." The most fascinating part of the conversation was how simple he considered his offense. At the end of the day, their offense actually lacks structure. Hoya players are drilled, from the second that he step foot on campus, how to read certain situations and what to do when a defense plays a certain way. The most difficult part, according to Thompson, is breaking players out of the thinking that every play has to be diagrammed for them. Simply put, he teaches them how to play basketball, regardless of what position they play."
A Bulldog for An Owl … Rob Dauster of NBC Sports reports the "Butler Bulldogs will be leaving the Horizon League and joining the Atlantic 10 for the 2012-2013 season. When Butler originally decided to make the jump from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10, they were supposed to be waiting for the 2013-2014 season. But with VCU making the decision to join the conference immediately, the A-10 needed another team to get to an even number. When the Horizon League presidents voted to keep Butler out of this season’s conference tournament — thus making them ineligible to receive the conference’s automatic bid — the school decided it was in their best interest to leave. There are now 16 teams in the league, a number that will drop to 14 once Temple and Charlotte leave the conference in a year."
Hanging Up The Whistle … Raphielle Johnson of NBC Sports reports that Villanova fan favorite official, Tim Higgins, joined longtime Big East referee Bob Donato in deciding to retire. "The two combined to work 12 Final Fours, with Higgins being selected for ten of them." I still love to do it," Higgins told The Record during last season, choosing to answer questions for the story while in his car – where he spends so much time and where he gets much of his work done." It’s like when the fire bell goes off – you go. It’s like the horse that’s got to run. It’s hard to imagine not doing it." While considered one of college basketball’s top referees, Higgins was a lightening rod for controversy over his career. In a game at Villanova, a missed call with time expiring resulted in the introduction of the instant replay in college games. In last year’s Big East Tournament game between Rutgers and St. John’s, Higgins was part of the officiating crew with Jim Burr and Early Walton that was forced to withdraw from the Tournament after missing two calls in the closing seconds as a St. John's player intercepted a pass with several seconds remaining, then traveled and stepped out of bounds before the buzzer sounded. [Editor’s Note: It’s time, Jim Burr. Walk toward the light!]
Jordan Impresses …. Matt Bracken of the Baltimore Sun reports that Villanova point guard target,"Rysheed Jordan, was at his best Wednesday night at Philadelphia's Wayne Ellington All-City Basketball Classic. The five-star prospect -- and Rivals.com's No. 12 prospect in the 2013 class -- had 14 points and four assists to lead his White squad to a 110-98 win over the Blue team. Rivals.com's Alex Kline, who was on hand for the game, offered an update on Jordan's recruitment. Jordan is being tracked by Maryland the hardest as of now and has visited the College Park campus twice. [In addition to Villanova,] Alabama, Temple, La Salle, Kansas, St. John's, Virginia, Arizona, Georgetown, NC State, Drexel are heavily involved [in the chase for] Jordan, who could make a college decision as early as July."
Palestra A Relic of the Past, But Big Five Lives On… ESPN’s Dana O’Neill writes, "Despite scheduling inconveniences and nonconference sacrifices every year, the five Philly schools still complete their Big 5 round robin. Older fans will still wax poetic about the on-court talent they spied on the court or spin yarns about sneaking in through the creaking doors to watch. Time has eroded plenty of it. They used to throw streamers on the court after the first made bucket. Now that will get you a technical. One game is tough enough to schedule, so forget about double- or tripleheaders. "The scheduling is impossible because you always get caught with an opportunity for a national game that you can’t play because you agreed to a Big 5 game on that date,’’ Villanova's Jay Wright said. "And it’s not like these are easy games. These are really hard games. But you have to decide, you have to be all-in or you’re out. We decided we would be all-in.’’ At one time, of course, the Wildcats decided they were out. From 1991 to 1999, the Big 5 disappeared. Ask anyone in Philadelphia what happened and they will tell you a succinct, but different, story: Former Villanova coach oRollie Massimino killed the Big 5. "[Rollie] was vilified,’’ said Wright, who was an assistant on the staff at the time. "I’m sure if you dropped an outsider in here, they’d look at the schedule and say, ‘What the hell are you doing here? Why are you doing this?’ But if you’re from here -- and more, if you count on living here after you’re done coaching -- it’s a no-brainer.’’