It may be hard to believe, but the 2010 season came to an abrupt end yesterday for the Villanova Wildcats. I have to keep telling myself that it really is over, because it doesn't seem real. A team that had so many high hopes, so much talent just couldn't put it all together to make that magical run we all wished for. Sure, there were numerous weaknesses and issues with this team, but that's no consolation for the pain of being ousted from the NCAA Tournament. Seeing a season come to an end stings no matter what. Some last losses hurt more than others, but that feeling of emptiness because it's all over still hurts nonetheless. That emptiness is what I feel today and will continue to feel in the weeks to come, but there were a range of thoughts and emotions running through my head yesterday, which I will share with you below.
More after the jump...
Thoughts and emotions from yesterday (in no particular order):
- Although Scottie Reynolds did not have a good game or NCAA Tournament for that matter, in no way, shape, or form do I put the blame on him. He certainly missed wide open shots, ones that he usually cans, but every player goes through games and stretches where it's tough to buy a bucket. For Reynolds, it just happened to be at a bad time, as he couldn't get on track. Anyone who thinks he lost the game for the Cats and anyone who thinks he is not clutch due to the recent poor performances is absolutely clueless. Scottie virtually carried the program on his back for the last 4 years and without him, Villanova certainly would not have been a 2 seed in this year's tourney. The number of "clutch" plays he made throughout his career is mind-boggling to think about. One bad game or one bad stretch does not tarnish a legacy.
- It was pretty obvious that Omar Samhan won that game for St. Mary's. The Wildcats simply had no answer, so he definitely deserves a ton of credit for his performance. One thing you don't do though is "shush" the opposing team's crowd and bench, which Samhan did at the end of the first half. He's a beast, but the great ones stay humble.
- Unfortunately, shit happens. With the game tied and 80 secs left, Mickey McConnell threw up a prayer that banked in to give the Gaels a 3 point lead. You can call it whatever you want, but these things happen sometimes. It happened at the wrong time yesterday for Villanova, so maybe it was just St. Mary's day.
- The weaknesses that have plagued Villanova all season really weren't an issue in the loss. The Cats only gave up 7 treys on 19 attempts to a team that could have scorched them from the outside, especially since they had to collapse on Samhan a lot. In terms of fouling, Villanova committed 18 compared to St. Mary's 12, but considering some of the differences we have seen this year, that discrepancy really isn't terrible. Another problem this season was rebounding, but yesterday, rebounding was a dead heat. In addition, Villanova actually had 21 more field goal attempts than St. Mary's, but the Gaels just executed better and the Wildcats couldn't knock down shots. It sucks to lose, but one thing I can somewhat live with is missing shots, because that doesn't happen often for Villanova teams. They just had a rough stretch of games where the shots weren't falling. That's basketball, not lack of effort or concentration.
- Again, I hate that the season came to an end yesterday, but I was actually proud of the effort given by the Wildcats against the Gaels. After such an abysmal performance on Thursday versus Robert Morris and over much of the last month, Villanova showed some fight and energy yesterday in my opinion. They easily could have folded and packed it in after getting down 12 in the first half to St. Mary's. The doubters were plentiful, the pressure was intense, but Villanova didn't back down amidst all of the negativity. They played their tails off, but got beat by a fundamentally sound team and one monster down low. Despite the loss, they played "Villanova basketball" for much of the game.
- As much talent and weapons as Villanova had this year, I think the last 6 or 7 games really showed how much this team relied on Scottie Reynolds. He didn't play particularly well over the last few weeks, and look how much the team struggled. One player doesn't make a team, but the others feed off of Scottie and his play. When he's not on, it's tough for his teammates to get in rhythm. In reality, as Scottie went, so did the team.
- Some people mentioned that watching Kansas lose made the Villanova loss seem less painful or more ok to accept. I completely disagree, as the Kansas loss really has no impact on my emotions towards the Cats season being over. Either way, Villanova is out of the tournament, and it's not a good feeling. If anything, both of the losses show how hard it is to survive and advance in the NCAA Tournament. Any team on any given night can win, which makes me realize even more how special last year's Final Four run was. The team looks good on paper for next year, but you never know what's going to happen.
- Two questions I keep asking myself: Do I really have to wait 7+ months for another Villanova basketball game? Is Scottie Reynolds career really over? I know the answers are yes to both of these questions, but I still can't believe it and don't want to believe it.