I watched the first-half of last night's game live and watched a really good team completely take apart a really bad team. There wasn't much more to it. The Villanova Wildcats 'D' held the Lafayette Leopards to 20 points in the first half - and it could have been much less save a 10-2 Leopards run in the last couple of minutes.
A birthday celebration for a friend cut the game short for me - so I watched the 2nd half this morning and it was more of the same. Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher did whatever they wanted with the ball - Fisher in particular had some highlight reel quality finishes - and the defense was even better than the first half.
They held Lafayette to just 21 points in the 2nd half - and to 11 points over the final 16 minutes of the game - AND to just 2 points over the last 8 minutes! It was incredible to watch. Sure, Lafayette was missing some open shots, nobody can debate that. But 'Nova was forcing them into a lot of bad shots and allowing almost no 2nd chances.
If they can play like this consistently (the UCLA Bruins will be a test even though they aren't their regular selves) then this could be a special year for Villanova. I'm not going to overreact until we get a real opponent and do this, but I'm starting to get that good feeling about our defense.
More on what I liked, and didn't like (there isn't much) after The Jump.
Like: The 'D' - Still can't say enough about it. Antonio Pena, Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton are having a great start to the year. We were all worried that they might not take the step forward we hoped for. We were wrong to doubt that. The 3 of them, along with Isaiah Armwood, have allowed our guards to be more risky on the perimeter.
Like: Rebounding - 46-22 advantage. Yeah we were bigger than them, but I don't remember any Villanova team handling things this easily. Good fundamentals, and we're not giving up any offensive boards really (just 5 last night - and it felt like much less than that).
Like: The Jumbo Lineup - Dominic Cheek playing the point, Armwood at...shooting guard? And Pena, Yarou and Sutton in the frontcourt. That was downright scary. And they were good together. Interesting lineup from Jay, but I'm not complaining based on last night's results.
Like: Corey Stokes - Proving he can be an offensive force, although most of it is still coming from the perimeter. As long as he continues to play solid 'D' though, I don't care where the points come from with him.
Like: Mouph The Glass-Cleaner - Once he has position down low, it's over. 12 boards to go along with his 12 points for the double-double. And he barely has an offensive game right now. Sky's the limit.
Like: Isaiah Armwood - Quiet night overall for him - although he did snare 9 boards - something I did a double-take on. But really, he can guard anyone on the floor. He's Dante Cunningham 2.0 in that respect.
Like: Dallas Ouano - Emulated Dwayne Anderson in the waning moments of the game by tracking a Lafayette player down on the break, diving, and knocking the ball out of bounds. Crowd went wild, and frankly so did I. Well done, sir.
Like: The Student Section - I ripped on you before, apologized when I found out you didn't have all the seats to yourselves - and you threw it in my face last night. Tons of chants, smartly recognizing good play, and even a few football chants. And all against Lafayette. Can't wait to see you for the Pittsburgh Panthers game!
Dislike: "Skip to my Lou, dipsy-do!" - I counted 7 of them from color-man Dereck Whittenburg. Just shut up already. I swear this guy was getting physically aroused watching Corey Fisher play. I mean, sometimes I do too I guess. I mean, what?
See you on Wednesday when we take on the UCLA Bruins at Madison Square Garden!