And you thought they were rowdy before … ESPN reports that West Virginia has decided to allow the sale of beer at Mountaineers sporting events, including football and basketball games. There are rules, of course: No beer vendors in the student section, valid ID required for all purchases, limit of two beers per purchase (unless the patron is wearing a raccoon hat) , and so on. In all, the change seems reasonable and economically rational, and Google has failed to yield one obviously outraged reaction. "
Cats UnderDogs? ... In an article about the prospects for last year’s most disappointing teams (Baylor, Illinois, Kansas State, Minnesota and Villanova), ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan writes about Villanova, " [Last season] was the second straight meager finish from a Jay Wright-coached team, and it left many scratching their heads: Why do the Wildcats fade down the stretch? There's no accounting for late-season slides in early June, so it's hard to say what shape the 2011-12 Wildcats will take in February and March. What we do know is that Villanova returns only two starters from last season's team: point guard Maalik Wayns and forward Mouphtaou Yarou. Wright did land the No. 12 point guard in the country in Tyrone Johnson, but he is the only ESPNU top 100 player in Nova's 2011 recruiting class. Wayns and Yarou will be able scorers. What Villanova really needs is defensive improvement. Can some combination of 2011 reserves Dominic Cheek, Maurice Sutton, James Bell or Isaiah Armwood step into the breach? If not, Nova may enter February of 2012 in an unusual position -- as the underdog." Editor's Note: With JayVaughn returning this year after never seeing the court last season, I think of him as part of this year's freshman class. I am not sure where Mr. Brennan got is Rivals rankings, but here's what I found on Rival's site:
2010-11 'Nova Highlights ... Click here to see Brian's post with Andrew Keefe and Sean Donovan's latest masterpiece.
Wayns' World .... Ryan Fagan of Sporting News identified four players on top teams who he believes "can—and will—be better next season -- Kim English (Missouri ), Thomas Robinson (Kansas), Joshua Smith (UCLA) and Maalik Wayns of Villanova. About Maalik, he writes, "With Wayns, the expected improvement is all about the opportunity to be a leader for coach Jay Wright’s team. Last season was mostly about the Coreys—senior guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes combined to average 30.5 points. As a sophomore, Wayns averaged 13.8 points per game last year and scored at 19-plus points on eight occasions. He’ll be counted on for more consistent scoring efforts, and he’ll be one of the veterans on a young team that has an incoming class that includes two four-star recruits and a five-star recruit (as rated by Rivals.com)." [Editor's Note: With JayVaughn returning after never seeing the floor last year, I see Nova with five new freshman this year. I am unsure where Mr. Fagan got his Rival's ratings, but here's what is on their site today:
Signee Pos. Rating
|Tyrone Johnson||PG * * * *|
|Achraf Yacoubou||SG * * *|
|Darrun Hilliard||SG * * *|
|Jayvaughn Pinkston||F * * * *|
|Markus Kennedy||C * * *|
Goodman Loves McDonalds ... Keith Pompey of PhillyNews.com writes that Villanova signee and "Academy of the New Church junior forward Savon Goodman's goal is to become the area's seventh boys' McDonald's all-American since 2006.That's why the 6-7 Villanova recruit loaded his summer with elite-skills basketball camps where McDonald's selection committee members evaluate talent. "I'm definitely pushing to make McDonald's and improve my ranking," said Goodman, who is regarded as the nation's 48th-ranked college prospect in the Class of 2012, according to Scout.com. ESPN.com (55) and Rivals.com (62) also list him as a top 100 recruit. "I'm just trying to make progress," he said. "I'm in the gym a lot working on my jump shot, my handle, going coast to coast, and just [being] an all-around better basketball player." On June 4, he participates in the invite-only Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, Calif. On June 15-18, he will participate in the NBA Players Association's Top 100 camp at the University of Virginia. On June 26-28, he partakes in the Kevin Durant Skills Academy Camp in Chicago for 20 of the top high school players and 10 college swingmen. A week later, he will be in Akron for the LeBron James Skills Academy. The four-day event features 80 of the nation's top high school players."
Get Used to Hearing "Ryan With the Assist" ... Dave Telep of ESPN Recruiting identified 4 players as standouts at last week’s three-day Tournament of Champions, including Villanova signee, Ryan Arcidacano. About Ryan, he wrote, "Plagued by back problems this spring, the TOC was Arcidiacono's first event in a while. In a nutshell, Arcidiacono captains a good, not great AAU team, and enjoys every minute of it. He doesn't have elite finishers, yet he makes people around him better. Toughness isn't an issue and his jump shot is improving. With high-level talent around him, Arcidiacono will be a contender to lead the Big East in assists."
Glimpse into Lange's Role ... Villanova Director of Media Relations Mike Sheridan, offers a May feature on the return of former Wildcat staffer Billy Lange in his new role as men's associate head basketball coach. "The part that I love about being back is what hasn't changed. Villanova Basketball is what Villanova Basketball has always been. That's a credit to Jay for keeping the tradition alive and also to the University itself. For all of the growth here, it still feels like a family. I have rarely missed a Villanova game," Lange says. I think I have a pretty good feel for the newer guys, the recruits and all of it because I am a great fan of Villanova Basketball." "I think what Jay wants is for me to take the seven years of experience as head coach that I have and help him and help the players," says Lange. "One of the things I loved when I was here before was the relationships that I had with those (players). Jay wants me to have those kinds of relationships again and help the guys on the court in any way that I can, be it offense, defense, or player development. I can bring a fresh perspective while at the same time having a comfort level because Jay does what he does very well. "We spoke about recruiting and after seven years in the D.C./Maryland area, I think I have some great contacts there. I've also been able to make some contacts nationally that can be helpful."
Chambers Bolts Boston ... ESPN reports that former ‘Nova Assistant Coach, Pat Chambers, has taken over as head basketball coach at Penn State basketball begins a new era today. Villanova had much to do with this coaching change. Penn State’s former coach, Ed DeChellis left to become the coach at Navy after Villanova hired Billy Lang. "I think [Penn State] is a sleeping giant," Chambers said. "They have everything they need. They have more than Villanova had. Everything that they need to be a successful program is there." Corey Giger of The Altoona Mirror interviewed former Villanova great, Doug West, about Pat Chambers, who coached alongside West at Villanova. West said, "Pat is definitely an Xs and Os guy, and offense is definitely his thing. He's a very good defensive teacher, as well. I think his best trait is he's a very good motivator, very good talker and a great people person." Greenwichtime.com reports that Chambers consulted with his former boss, Jay Wright, "for advice after Penn State came calling. Wright gave his protege a thumbs-up. "I spoke to Jay all week ... I sought his wisdom and his knowledge, discussed the job, what it entailed and needed to be done," Chambers said. "He is an incredible mentor."
Hill Joins Ranks of the Employed ... Associated Press reports that "former Rutgers head coach [and 'Nova assistant coach], Fred Hill, who accepted a buyout last year after an incident at a Scarlet Knights baseball game, will join Northwestern as an assistant coach, according to two persons with knowledge of the situation.
Calhoun Still Not Sure About Rocking Chair ... ESPN reports that UConn's Jim Calhoun said on Wednesday that he hadn't decided whether to return to the job he has held since 1986. "I'm not even thinking about that," Calhoun said. Sources close to Calhoun told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that if Calhoun retires, it would likely be once the fall semester has begun. Then the Huskies would be in position to bump up assistant Kevin Ollie to coach, rather than conducting a national search.
Purnell's Plan ... ESPN’s Elena Bergeron thinks speed could be the key to the rise of DePaul basketball this season. Despite DePaul’s abysmal record last season, Coach Oliver Purnell made "crucial changes to the team's style and culture that should go a long way toward bringing the team back to respectability, and possibly position the Blue Demons for their first season above .500 since 2006-07."
Szczur An All-Star … With a hat-tip to VUHoops reader, Lharris537, "the Peoria Chiefs have announced that six Chiefs players will represent the West in the June 21 All-Star game in Quad Cities, including OF Matt Szczur. Szczur, 21, enters play on Friday with a .340 batting average, three home runs, 10 doubles, 15 RBI, 34 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. [The former 'Nova baseball and football star] is the second toughest player in the MWL to strikeout. Szczur is third in the MWL in batting average and fourth in runs scored."
Going to Gramma's House ... Collin O’Connor of SportsHaze.com writes, Last season, Antonio Pena averaged 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game for the Villanova Wildcats. However, Pena decided that his playing career will continue, just not in the United States. Recently, he decided to sign with the Dominican club, Metros de Santiago, where he will compete in the National Basketball League in the Dominican Republic. When asked about his new team and his new home, Pena told the club's reporters, "My grandmother lives here, and I liked what I saw. I like the food and the climate." His new coach described him as a versatile big man with a strong low post game that enjoys guarding the other team's best player. They are definitely excited to have him aboard."
When I Wish Upon A Star ... Brian Ewart of VUHoops.com reported that Corey Stokes is scheduled to work out for the Celtics on June 20th. According to OpposingViews.com, the Celtics will consider using the 55th pick in the draft on Stokes. Mike of VUHoops.com reported that Corey Fisher worked out for Denver last week and is scheduled to work out for the Portland Trailblazers on Monday and the NJ Nets on Tuesday.
Nova's New Friend ... In his article, "Now the Sun Seems to be Rising on the Big East," Eric Crawford provides some insights on the thinking of Big East AD’s at the recent Big East Meetings. He writes, But when Big East members met last week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the mood was different. It has gone from duck and cover to sit and wait. After the meetings in Florida, Big East commissioner John Marinatto said the league is in no rush to make its next move, either with expansion or a new TV deal. "We're like in the bottom of the ninth," Marinatto told Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com. "The other conferences have already gone to the plate and been able to finalize their media contracts, but we know what the score is. ... We're going to be bullish, aggressive, and we're going to end up in a very solid spot." What moves will the Big East make in the meantime? Villanova has been looking to step up to the Football Bowl Subdivision level. From Louisville’s perspective, Villanova remains the place to look. "They're already in the footprint of our league, and they've got a history with this league and done a lot of great things," University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said. "For them, a lot of it is going to be logistics. ... Villanova is a strong program right now. There's a strong argument that they could finish in the middle of our league right now, at 63 scholarships.This league was built on a tradition, and when people talk about this league, they think about those founding schools."
If the Big East Does Not Want Us ... Mike Jensen, Staff Writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer posed a theoretical question this week: "Is there a Division I-A football scenario out there that could benefit both Temple and Villanova? That would allow the two local schools to field programs that matter, in leagues with television exposure and a place at the college sports big-boy table? Yes, in fact, there is. But a lot of dominoes would have to fall for that to happen - to see Villanova in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Temple joining forces with Big East football schools such as Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Where did this come from? Stay with it. The dominoes would have to topple, but if they start to, 'Nova-to-ACC and Temple with some Big East schools isn't outlandish. It even starts to make sense."
Fab Tougher than Girlfriend ... ESPN.com reports that Syracuse center Fab Melo has been arraigned in City Court on a misdemeanor charge after a fight with his girlfriend and pleaded pleaded not guilty to criminal mischief and released without bail. The 7-foot Melo, the preseason Big East rookie of the year, never lived up to the hype, averaging just over 2 points and just under 2 rebounds in 24 starts."
Whitney Dodges Bullet .... Associated Press reports "a mistrial Wednesday in the armed robbery prosecution of a former Seton Hall basketball player, Kelly Whitney, after jurors were unable to reach a verdict. Whitney was accused of robbing several students in an off-campus apartment in March 2010. Former Pirates player Robert Mitchell pleaded guilty and testified against Whitney, saying he and Whitney robbed the students at gunpoint. But jurors were unable to reach a verdict on any of the 27 counts Whitney faced. The Essex County prosecutor's office said it plans to retry the 6-foot-8 Whitney, who played for Seton Hall from 2002 to 2006 and finished his career with 1,448 points.
Stale, But Thematically Aligned ... Brian of VUHoops.com reported that "a continuance was granted and JayVaughn Pinkston’s case will not be heard by the court until at least July 27. According to Pinkston’s attorney, James Famiglia, "The continuance has no effect whatsoever," on Pinkston’s ability to play basketball, practice or travel with the team."
Temple Likes Pepper ... Associated Press reports that Dalton Pepper, a small forward who played the last two seasons at West Virginia, will transfer to Temple. At West Virginia, Pepper played in 62 games, starting once. He averaged 3.5 points and 10.1 minutes per game Temple will return four starters from last season's team that posted a 26-8 record and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.