Seven Days and Counting ... VUHoops' Brian Ewart reports from Villanova Football Media Day, "The 'Cats are projected to go far this fall. It helps that 17 starters return, including Dan Shirey and Jamal Abdur-Rahman, who both sat out last season. Both will be key players to an offense that ran the ball well for most of last season and expects to do more of the same this fall -- but don't be surprised to see at least a little more passing. Abdur-Rahman has drawn comparisons from the coach to former Villanova great Brian Westbrook. The 'Cats look set to lean on their defensive line again this season, to anchor the defensive unit. That defense will need to perform well in a week's time to execute the Wildcats' game plan against Boston College. "Keep the game close, try and get it into the fourth quarter and hang around," Coach Andy Talley explained of his plan for facing the ACC opponent."
Anatomy of a Turnaround ... Andrew Albert of the Philadelphia Daily News writes, "After a 2-9 season in 2011, things looked bleak for the Wildcats entering 2012. "We had hoped that we could get back quickly, and I wasn't sure we could get back as quick as we did," Talley said. "The advance of John Robertson at quarterback allowed us to. Obviously, he was the best freshman in the country. Robertson had an outstanding freshman season at quarterback, passing for 1,965 yards and rushing for 1,021. This year, the expectation is that he will improve on those numbers, and also lead the team. "He is brimming with confidence, and really perceived as the leader of the team," Talley said. "I think the team pretty much knows that we are going to hang our hat on him." Mark Narducci of the Inquirer adds, "Robertson is still considered a more dangerous runner than passer, and in Villanova's spread offense the run will be emphasized. He was most dangerous when having to improvise, and as the season progressed so did his passing ability."
Boston College Shifting Focus to Villanova Game ... Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald writes, "As we've downshifted from training camp to a game week, you have a more finite game plan," BC's first-year coach Steve Addazio said. "In camp, quarterback Chase Rettig was trying to operate the whole offense, but he'll operate a more finite game plan against Villanova. Our goal now is to shrink our offensive playbook down for this game and get Rettig really sharp. We have to hone him down now and give him a better chance to master this."
To All You Parents Who Moved their Kids into ‘Nova Dorms This Week ... Pete Bannan of Main Line Media News writes, "Freshmen students moved into dorms Wednesday at the south campus of Villanova University. A procession of cars pulled onto South Ithan Avenue to unload tons of gear for the new students. Villanova Orientation Counselors were on hand to assist students and their families unpacking cars and moving into their new homes. Orientation volunteers Kelsey Warren, Caroline Counts and Savanah Trifiro advised that the most common items students were bringing but don't need are: door mirrors, chairs, carpets, excessive wardrobes, and refrigerators. [Editor's Note: Thursday was the first day of orientation for 1,670 freshmen at Villanova, and classes begin on Monday. Total enrollment is now over ten thousand.] Assist to Brian Ewart
Shoulda Coulda Woulda ... After coming tantalizingly close last year (at least in our minds) to upgrading Villanova football, it is painful to watch others making the jump. Michelle Hosick of NCAA.org. reports, "The Division I Board of Directors elected three new schools to active Football Bowl Subdivision membership beginning with the 2013-14 academic year -Massachusetts, South Alabama and Texas State. Massachusetts and South Alabama must achieve 15,000 in actual average attendance in the 2013 football season. If the requirement is not met, the schools will receive a notice of noncompliance and enter a 10-year probationary period." Matt Vautour of the Gazette makes explicit what is implied in that statement, saying "Technically UMass football needs to average 15,000 fans at home this year, but realistically it needs to do so over the next 11 years." [Editor's Note: Shoulda Coulda Woulda.] Assist to Brian Ewart
Better to be Loved than Missed... Brent Axe of Syracuse.com lists Syracuse vs. Villanova on December 28 at the Carrier Dome as one of the top five Syracuse games to look forward to on the 2013-'14 schedule (behind the home and home series against Duke, the December 3 game against Indiana and the January 11 game against North Carolina). It's nice that Syracuse fans mention Villanova in the same breath as those other perennial powerhouses. What's the biggest disappointment in the Syracuse schedule? Mr. Axe writes, "We all knew it wasn't going to happen, but it is still strange to glance at the schedule and not see the Georgetown Hoyas there."
What's not to Like? ... VUHoops' Mike J. reports that "one of the nation's top guards in the class of 2016, Daryl Myers Jr., [took] an unofficial visit to Villanova [Monday]. He also visited the Main Line back in May. The 5'9" point guard from Columbia, SC who plays at Fredericksburg Christian (VA) is a pass-first point guard who has been described as "a magician with the basketball and simply has the ball on a string. Based on Daryl's twitter posts afterwards, the visit went well. He wrote, "Love Villanova, man, and that goes for the coaches, students and campus."
Great visit 🏀 pic.twitter.com/7l1dn7645h— Daryl Myers Jr. (@daryl3jr) August 19, 2013
What Was Jay Thinking? Here's our favorite tweets from Jay Wright this week:
Great to see so many families on campus yesterday as @NovaOrientation began!— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) August 23, 2013
Good luck to @NovaWSoccer as they begin a new season today on West Campus against Radford!— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) August 23, 2013
Yarou Pena Johnson and Halcovage bustin out an energetic enthusiastic workout in Davis center - always ballin at VU !— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) August 23, 2013
Women's Lacrosse Lands Star ... Phillyburbs.com reports, "Central Bucks West senior Amanda Gundlach made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Villanova University, choosing the prestigious Main Line school from a final list that also included Boston College and the University of Florida."
I Have a Dream ... Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News writes, "[Former Villanova great] George Raveling, a highly successful basketball player and coach with Philly roots, will be among the recipients of the 2013 Lapchick Character Award. Raveling, who played at Villanova from 1957-60 and had 746 rebounds in his final two seasons, was an assistant at his alma mater instrumental in recruiting the great Howard Porter before joining Lefty Driesell at Maryland, where he was critical in recruiting Len Elmore and Tom McMillen. Raveling was the head coach at Washington State, Iowa and USC, winning 337 games, before becoming Nike's Director of International Basketball. Raveling has been selected to receive the 2013 John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame."
1985 Championship Team Reunion ... Lehigh Valley's The Morning Call reports, "On Oct. 2, the Yasso/Rothrock Christmas City Classic will be holding a special event at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. The 1985 NCAA national championship game between Villanova and Georgetown will be the focus of a special discussion that will have many of the former Wildcats players reuniting. Sports Illustrated basketball writer and noted author Jack McCallum will lead the discussion that will include Harold Jensen, Chuck Everson, Brian Harrington, Steve Pinone and possibly Mark Plansky. In addition to the former Wildcats, current Villanova standout Darrun Hilliard will be coming back to the Bethlehem to participate in a Q-and-A session with fans and media." [Editor's Note: We look forward to a full report from Barney Rubble '87] Assist to Mike J
A Man With a Plan ... Celest Whittaker of the Courier-Post writes, "Former [Villanova and] NBA player Malik Allen traveled the world during his basketball career. But he knew one day his playing career would come to a close. He was ready for retirement in 2011 and well prepared for his next step in life. That adjustment is not easy for other athletes. But Allen, who played at Villanova before 10 seasons in the NBA, could be the poster boy for how to deal with life when the cheering stops. Allen is co-founder of inRecruit, a sports social network company that helps athletes with the recruiting process. Allen also runs the Malik Allen Basketball Academy at Medford Memorial Middle School each summer."
Hail Szczur ... The Press of Atlantic City reports, "[Former Villanova two-sport great] Matt Szczur who led off and played center field, went 1-for-5 with a double and two runs scored in the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs) 10-8 victory over the Birmingham Barons (White Sox) in the double-A Southern League on Wednesday. Szczur is hitting .280 with 71 runs scored, 41 RBIs and 21 stolen bases on 33 attempts in 118 games."
SMU's Larry Brown Reels in a Big Fish... Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reports, "Emmanuel Mudiay, one of the top five players in the Class of 2014 committed to SMU on Saturday night. It's huge for the Mustangs. It's enormous for [former Jay Wright mentor] Larry Brown. And it's just as big for the American Athletic Conference. This commitment ensures what many once deemed unfathomable - programs in the AAC can now recruit any player in America. Does Mudiay's presence along with Nic Moore, Keith Frazier, [former Villanova center] Markus Kennedy and Yanick Moreira make SMU a potential Top 25 team a year from now heading into the 2014-15 season? Absolutely."
Cook, Swimmer, Runner, Triathlete ... I received an email this week from VUHoops' Brian Ewart, who wrote, "Villanova recruited Summer Cook as a swimmer, but she joined the track/Cross Country team as a walk-on once she got to campus. She may be a better runner than a swimmer. After completing her bachelors degree, she enrolled in a masters program and was planning to finish her eligibility at Villanova this year, but now apparently she has had a change of heart. A runner leaving school early? Since when does that happen? She is training as a triathlete and has decided to stay at the Olympic Training Center this year instead of finishing her graduate degree and college eligibility."
Stacked JuCo ... Garrett Miley of City of Basketball Love writes, "In 2010, Harcum College, the junior college in Bryn Mawr., Pa., sent six different sophomores on to D-I programs after a magical 30-3 season that had them ranked No. 1 in the country at one point. Harcum Coach, Drew Kelly has a history of Philadelphia basketball on his resume. He graduated from Villanova in 1997, after serving as the men's basketball manager for four seasons under Coach Steve Lappas. When the opportunity to take the Harcum job came along, he was up for the challenge." Assist to Brian Ewart
Fly Girl ... Philly.com reports, "Rookie Eagles cheerleader [and Villanova alumna] Michaelann Guaracini, the newest member of the 38-member Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading squad, was a cheerleader at Villanova University until she graduated last spring. She's now in graduate school at the Haub School of Business at St. Joseph's University - and achieving a long-sought goal in cheerleading, too."
Size Matters, But Chemistry Matters More... Raphielle Johnson of NBC Sports writes about former Villanova target, Aaric Murray, "Before the 2012-13 season began there were high expectations for then-West Virginia center Aaric Murray. Murray was coming off of a season away from game action after transferring in from La Salle, and the expectation was that the talented forward would help the Mountaineers successfully handle the switch from the Big East to the Big 12. Unfortunately things didn't work out that way as both Murray and the program at large struggled throughout the season. Murray averaged 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while also dealing with nagging disciplinary issues. Ultimately he was dismissed from the program, and with a college degree in tow the 6-10 Murray began looking for a school where he could play his final season - Texas Southern. [Editor's Note: I am sure that the former Villanova target easily could have been had for the asking if Jay had been interested. Despite a need to bolster the front-court, Jay apparently does not want to tinker with the strong chemistry of the current squad after the issues that plagued the team in the recent past.]
CBS Sports Predicts Undefeated Season for ‘Cats ... Well, not our ‘Cats, the other ones. Rob Dauster of NBC Sports writes, "Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com said he thinks Kentucky will go 40-0 on Kentucky Sports Radio last week. And frankly, the chatter isn't unwarranted. Kentucky has seven or eight guys that could end up being first round picks whenever they enter the NBA Draft, which is as much talent as we've seen on one team in recent memory. "We're chasing perfection. We're chasing greatness. We're chasing things that have never been done in the history of our game," Kentucky Coach John Calipari said during a May news conference. [Editor's Note: the eight guys who could become first round draft picks include the former Villanova recruits, the Harrison twins].
Wanted: Outside Shooters ... In our never-ending quest to help Coach find long-range shooters, we found two two new prospects, one in Indiana and the other in the State of Washington. Our exclusive scouting films are presented below. [Editor's Note: Honey Badger, these videos also are for you!]
Long-Range Sniper Prospect #1
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO
Long-Range Sniper Prospect #2
Guilty Until Proven Innocent ... Rob Dauster of NBC Sports writes, "Maryland guard Dez Wells has filed a lawsuit against Xavier, his former school, and the school's president, Father Michael Graham, in federal court seeking damages for what Wells alleges was a wrongful expulsion last summer. Wells was accused of sexually assaulting a student, which resulted in his expulsion from the Xavier. But there was so little evidence that local prosecutors not only declined to file charges, but they went to the media to voice their displeasure with how Xavier handled the case. Hamilton (OH) County prosecutor Joseph Deters called in "fundamentally unfair" and "seriously flawed." The complicating factor here was that Xavier was already being investigated for the way that they had handled previous sexual assault allegations. According to Wells' attorney, Peter Ginsberg, Xavier was much more anxious to appease the Department of Education then satisfy its own obligations to fairness for its own students."
In Hindsight, Goodman De-Commitment was a Godsend ... Back in November 2010, Savon Goodman made a big splash by verbally committing to Villanova and joining an outstanding recruiting class that included Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. He shocked Nova Nation by de-committing the following August, ultimately to play for UNLV. Goodman saw limited playing time as a freshman, averaging 9 minutes, 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds. UNLV finished 25-10 and lost in the Round of 64 as a No. 5 seed. Things have gone from bad to worse for Goodman. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports reported yesterday that "Goodman is facing two felony charges on first degree burglary and grand larceny stemming from an arrest on May 18, 2013. He is also facing a gross misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit burglary. "Savon will not play in games this entire season so he can focus on getting his priorities in order." UNLV coach Dave Rice said in a statement. Rice also told the Las Vegas Sun that Goodman will remain on the team and is scheduled to attend classes when they begin on Monday at UNLV." [Editor's Note: the juxtapositioning of UNLV's decision to allow Goodman to remain on the team and continue to attend classes with Villanova's treatment of JayVaughn Pinkston and Xavier's treatment of Dez Wells illustrates a striking difference between private and public colleges in dealing with legal problems of their athletes. By the way, Savon Goodman wears #0 for UNLV. That's seems fitting] Assist to Ryan Boggio
Villanova Crime Blotter ... Jacob Gershman of WSJ.com reports, "The former dean of Villanova University School of Law, Mark A. Sargent, has been banned from practicing law for three years as punishment for allegedly doctoring admissions data. Sargent resigned as dean in 2009 after published reports linked him to a prostitution ring. His successor, John Gotanda, discovered inaccuracies in LSAT and GPA admissions data that Villanova had submitted to the ABA. An internal probe found that the school had been reporting phony data going back to at least 2002. Three other officials blamed in the report either resigned or were dismissed, according to the ABA."
Great Expectations Unrealized ... Raphielle Johnson of NBC Sports writes, "A big March for a player can boost his NBA prospects, in some cases turning a fringe first round pick into a lottery selection. Such was the case for former Syracuse guard Jonny Flynn, whose performance during the 2009 Big East tournament quarterfinal against UConn (the six overtime drama) and subsequent winning of the event's MVP award put him in position to be the sixth pick of the 2009 NBA Draft. But was it a case of "too much, too soon" for Flynn? Flynn struggled to land a stable role in the NBA and multiple issues led to Flynn being out of the NBA within three years. Would things have turned out differently for Flynn if not for his play in New York during that March weekend in 2009?"
Plan B ... Yahoo Sports' Australian Rugby Blog, Big Footy, reports, "It's only a matter of time before an Australian Football League club unearths a super talent in the U.S.," said Michael Ablett, the AFL's Academy Development Manager. "First and foremost, they are elite athletes. In Australia, we are unfortunately unable to consistently provide enough athletes 200 centimeters [roughly 6-foot-6] and taller to fulfill the needs of 18 clubs. In 14 years of combine testing both at national and state levels, we have only tested 84 players that are 200 centimeters and taller, therefore highlighting our need to look outside the box". Brian Ewart ponders whether Villanova's former 6-9, 250 pound center, Mouph Yarou, could make the transition to Australian football if things don't work out in basketball. Vote in the poll, below, to let us know what you think?