I've been silent since the events of Saturday. Brian did a good job picking up the pieces in what was one of the worst days in recent memory for me. Hungover and feeling nervous in general about the upcoming game, I climbed in the car with Jamie and headed for Providence. 10 minutes into the trip we saw a sign: I-95 CLOSED at Exit 90. In hindsight, that was probably a bad omen. After driving around through Mystic, CT and experiencing what felt like the plot of The Hills Have Eyes, we eventually found out that a truck had flown off an overpass and exploded on the highway below. Good times.
So after finally getting there and pre-gaming with some old friends, I was feeling a lot better. I was, dare I say, confident. And then it all unfolded.
It wasn't the fact that we lost. I can deal with that. But it was the way we went down. And not just Saturday, but over the final week of the season. I felt like I wasn't watching the Villanova Wildcats. At least not the ones that have been playing for Jay Wright the last few years.
Save a few players (by the way, I'm REALLY excited for the Maalik Wayns era), the team looked lifeless. They looked tired. They looked ready for the season to be over. And after watching Villanova teams overachieve for my 4 years at Villanova, watching an underachieving team was extremely tough to take.
I don't ever want to hear Omar Samhan mentioned again. The guy had the game of his life. Give it up. He was amazing. Although I wish we double-teamed him more. Oh well. That's it for him. We're done with him.
Corey Fisher and his 3-13 effort from the field, were uh, interesting to say the least. Reggie Redding going 2-7 wasn't exactly surprising at this stage in the year. Scottie Reynolds ending his career with a 2-11 effort and looking like he generally didn't care were downright disturbing.
And that is what I truly believe was the biggest problem with this team down the stretch. They needed a VOCAL leader to step up and bust everyone in their chops for playing like crap. Leading by example (we didn't even have that in the waning weeks) only takes you so far. This team needed Dwayne Anderson. They needed Kyle Lowry. They needed Randy Foye. They needed Dante Cunningham.
But those guys are long gone, and all those things we heard about passing the tradition on to the next guys -- that never reached Reynolds and Redding. Or maybe they just didn't have the personalities. And let's be clear -- I don't blame them for this. Sometimes you just don't have the right mix of guys on a team. Last year proved chemistry wins over talent. Hell, all sports are like that. A collection of junkers who love each other will win more often than a bunch of talented guys who don't get along. It's why John Calipari's teams never win anything.
We'll get to the seniors in the coming weeks. They've been a huge part of this program. They deserve and will forever have my appreciation. But right now -- I'm going to end this positively, because if I don't, I won't make it through the off-season. There needs to be light at the end of the tunnel. So here it is:
Maalik Wayns has that spunk that Kyle Lowry had. When things looked bleak on Saturday, a FRESHMAN took the reigns and single-handedly brought his team back into the game. He's going to be a maniac next year when the training wheels finally come off for good.
Corey Fisher is a senior, and now he will be out of the shadow of Scottie. Does he have what it takes? Who knows, but I know a lot of people who think that Fisher and Reynolds couldn't play together. So I'm excited for him and Wayns.
The light when on for Corey Stokes at the end of the year. His defense is very, very good now. His shooting looks to be back. He has somewhat added the dribble-drive. If he can become more assertive, he could be a 15 points-per-game guy next season.
Dominic Cheek and Isaiah Armwood are a year older. And that means 1 year more confident (and they already were confident). Cheek will be that athletic wing we didn't have this year, and allow Stokes to play more of his more natural 2-guard. Armwood I'm just giddy about.
Mouphtaou Yarou and Antonio Pena should form a pretty fearsome presence down low. Yarou is an absolute horse. The kind of guy that championship teams have. He's not there yet, but he COULD be by late next year. Pena will be a 5th year senior. It's now or never. He took a big leap this year. If he does again, our frontline will be extremely good. Oh yeah, and Maurice Sutton gets another year in the weight room. He started out great this year, was overmatched, and then came on again late.
And we still haven't gotten to Taylor King, or any of the freshman. I'm not sure where King fits in. Yarou, Pena, Sutton, Markus Kennedy and Jayvaughn Pinkston should allow him to move out and become more of a sniper, where he should be more comfortable.
So yeah, I'm hurting just as bad as you are. I couldn't care less about the NCAA Tournament (which is a sin). But you know what? There's always next year!