Ward Limps Into NCAA Championships ... Daniel Carp of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that "after injuring her hamstring during the finals of the 100-meter hurdles at the Penn Relays nearly 6 weeks ago, Villanova's Junior Shericka Wardwas convinced she had just run her final collegiate race. Pain, pride and perseverance have brought Ward back, leading a host of local runners who are competing in the NCAA Track and Field Championships. Ward, made her third consecutive appearance in the outdoor portion of the NCAA Championships, finished in 10th place overall and fourth in her heat in the national semifinals on Thursday evening.
Close But No Cigar ... For the second time in his last three races sophomore Samuel Ellison ran a personal best time in the 800 meters and he finished in eighth place on Friday evening. Ellison crossed the finish line in 1:47.62 to wrap up an incredible sophomore campaign. In a race that was tight from start to finish, freshman Samuel McEntee came in ninth in the finals of the 1500 meters on Saturday morning. McEntee finished strong over the final 400 meters and registered a time of 3:46.41.
No Storybook Ending for Sheila ... With temperatures pushing 90 degrees on a hot afternoon at Drake Stadium senior Sheila Reid and junior Bogdana Mimic ran in the national finals of the 5000 meters on Saturday afternoon. Reid came in 10th with a time of 16:31.48 and Mimic placed 17th in 16:53.66, concluding four days of competition for Villanova at the national meet this week. Reid and Mimic will each earn All-America honors for the third straight year as a result of reaching the finals site of the NCAA Championships. Reid is a 12-time All-American spanning all seasons (cross country, indoor track & field, outdoor track & field) and Mimic will be a six-time All-American." Click here for an interview of a tearful Sheila Reid after her final NCAA race for Villanova, and her thoughts about the upcoming Canadian Olympic trials. ~Assist to Fact on Villanova Sports
Fast, Smart & Beautiful ... Villanova.com reports "the combination of success in athletic competition as well as academically has once again led to a prestigious honor for senior middle distance runner Sheila Reid, who was named a first team Capital One Academic All-District selection last week. Reid now moves on to a national ballot in consideration for Capital One Academic All-America honors. This is the second straight year that Reid has received first team all-district honors. She was a first team Capital One Academic All-American in 2011 and continues to perform at just as a high a level in the classroom as she does on the track. Reid is a double major in English and Communications with a 3.39 cumulative grade-point average."
Hllisek a Card ... Villanova.com reports that ‘Nova lefty pitcher, Kyle Hllisek, was selected in the 30th round by the St. Louis Cardinals in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. "Helisek was one of the most durable pitchers in school history and in his four years pitching for the Wildcats was a fixture in the starting rotation each year. He concluded his collegiate career ranked sixth in school history in innings pitched and graduated from Villanova last month." Villanova currently has six former players active in the professional ranks, including Jordan Ellis (Philadelphia Phillies), Mike Francisco (Milwaukee Brewers), Mike Loree (Long Island Ducks), Kyle McMyne (Cincinnati Reds), Brian Streilein (Houston Astros) and Matt Szczur (Chicago Cubs)." ~ Assist to Brian Ewart
Don't Expect A Savior ... Eamonn Brannan of ESPN writes, "Every year, there are at least a handful of truly elite freshmen, players who change their teams' seasons and their programs' trajectories in real and often lasting ways. But there is a big, big difference between that handful of elite freshmen and the rest of the top-100 recruiting rankings. Drew Cannon, Basketball Prospectus' ranking of the performance last season of the top 100 recruits in the class of 2011 provides a deeper appreciation for just how few players in the 2011 class truly made major, immediate impacts. The No. 46 player in Cannon's list in the class of 2011 was LSU's Johnny O'Bryant, who had a nice season but ranked just No. 45 in Cannon's final appraisal. In 2012, the No. 46-ranked player in the ESPNU top 100 is Villanova commit Ryan Arcidiacono. The way Arcidiacono's strengths are discussed by scouts ("ultra skilled and super competitive with an exemplary feel for the game and unwavering confidence," "incredible passer who sees absolutely everything," "master of misdirection") might make you think he's a lock for Big East Freshman of the Year. More likely, he'll be a nice player in relatively marginal minutes as a freshman, with a bright future awaiting him in subsequent seasons."
Low Impact ... Rob Dauster of NBC Sports had a bit more to say about Drew Cannon's analysis, citing Villanova’s Ty Johnson among the ranked recruits that had a minimal impact last season. He writes, Ty Johnson — who shot 34% from two, 23% from three and had a turnover rate of 36% — was ranked No. 68. That should be fair warning to fans pinning next season’s hope on the fact their team brought in a pair of top 100 recruits. Those newcomers have potential and will very likely end up being talented and productive contributors in the program down the road. But expecting them to be the savior of this year’s team is asking too much."
98 Were Better Last Year ... Basketball Prospectus took a look back at last year’s Top 100 Players, ranking Villanova’s Maalik Wayns at #99. They write, "Wayns didn't just improve. He took the reins on offense from Corey Fisher, but he didn't create much more than he did in 2011 (to be fair, that means he created quite a bit). Long underrated for his combined ability to get to the line and never miss, Wayns shot an excellent 141-158 (89 percent) from the stripe, Then again he really didn't learn from his ugly shooting season in 2011, taking 151 three-pointers and making less than 30 percent. Nova had a lot of ability last season, between Wayns and Dominic Cheek and Mouphtaou Yarou and college-sized freshman Jayvaughn Pinkston. But they struggled with ball pressure (the best part of their offense was rebounding), and it's tough not to pin a good chunk of that blame on their point guard."
Is #99 Good Enough For NBA? ... Mike Kern of the Philadelphia Daily News writes, "Maalik Wayns is well aware of the various NBA draft projections. For what they’re worth, most NBA mock drafts have the former Villanova point guard going somewhere in the bottom half of the second round on June 28. If they have him getting taken at all. He doesn’t care. Nor should he. Because it only takes one team. "I look at a couple of people they have [rated] in front of me, and I feel as though I’m as good or better than them. I use that as motivation. I can only control what I can control. There’s 30 teams. It’s all about getting that one to fall in love with you. Actually, every team I’ve been to has given me positive feedback. But you’re still never really sure if that means they’re going to want you when the time comes. I have to just focus on the task at hand. I have to make an impression, just do my best when I go somewhere. June 28 will be a joyful day for me."
Tim Thomas Mystery Solved ... Michael Bradley of PhillyMagazine.com writes, "Back in 1996, Villanova Coach Steve Lappas he had the good fortune of landing a highly regarded recruit named Tim Thomas. Thomas was a six-foot-nine bundle of potential whose collegiate career lasted all of one season. I asked Thomas why he chose Villanova, especially since his good pal, Vince Carter, was playing at North Carolina, one of Thomas’s finalists. Thomas told me that Carter had let him know that UNC coach Dean Smith had tried to "change" his game by insisting that he learn to shoot from the outside. Thomas was incredulous that a coach would try to alter a top player’s style and felt that he wouldn’t have to endure such unreasonable treatment at Villanova. It made perfect sense, because what the hell did Dean Smith know, anyway? It’s not surprising Thomas was offended by the fact that a Hall of Fame coach might, well, coach his players. By 1996, players were already cultivating an attitude, even at the college level: Anyone who dared suggest they were not perfect was a "hater" and therefore not to be trusted."
Like Old Times ... Former Villanova standouts, Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher have found success on the starting five for Antalya Buyuksehir Belediye in Turkey. Scottie led the team at 18.3 PPG, while Fish was the second leading scorer at 17.2 PPG. Antalya finished at #13 place in the 16-team Turkish Basketball League standings with a 10-20 record, but might have been better had top scorer, Scottie Reynolds played in more than 14 games. Their complete stats for the season are provided below. ~ Assist to Larry Harris
Lots To Like About 'Nova ... Damon Sayles of Recruiting Nation wrote a feature on Villanova recruiting targets, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, suggesting that the twins are much more than basketball players. "What's rarely said about the five-star guards is that underneath that thick skin of basketball consistency is a legitimate sense of normalcy. The average fan who watches the 6-foot-5 twins doesn't get to see their humanitarian efforts. Between games in last month's Under Armour Are You From Here? Classic, Sayles spotted the Harrisons assisting an elderly woman load grocery bags into her car. "The same day, following a tournament-game victory, the twins were signing autographs, taking pictures and answering questions from anyone who approached them." In an encouraging sign for Villanova fans, Sayles quotes Aaron praising Villanova, saying "I like Villanova's guard play. They use their guards real well. Plus, it's a small school with a great education. The twins said they plan on making a decision by the end of the summer. The winning school will have a great family atmosphere, a winning basketball tradition and a quality academic background. Most importantly, that school will need to be a place where they feel comfortable -- on and off the basketball court. After all, life is more than just basketball to them." [Editor's Note: I couldn't have described Villanova any better. Let's get this over with!]
Will 'Nova Make The Cut? ... Adam Zagoria reports that Villanova 2014 target, Chris McCullough’s recruitment "will enter a new phase this summer as he takes a number of unofficial visits and then cuts his list to five or six." He’s going to be cutting down the list to the top six at the end of July," Terrance "Munch" Williams, McCullough’s coach with Team Scan, told SNY.tv after the 6-foot-9 2014 forward put up 14 points in a 75-20 rout of the Brooklyn Leaders in the U16 bracket at the Rumble in the Bronx at Baruch College." He’s not going to take any unofficial visits to anyone that didn’t offer." In addition to Villanova, McCullough currently holds offers from 19 schools, including Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis, UConn, Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, and Florida."
What Do Ryan Arcidiacono and the Harrison Twins Have In Common? ... Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News writes "America will send a big team to Brazil for the FIBA Americas Championships. Coaches and junior national team chair Jim Boeheim cut the training camp roster from the original 23 participants to 14 finalists late Thursday, and the only remaining player who stands shorter than 6-3 is North Carolina-bound guard Nathanial Britt II, a 6-1. Nine players were released, including Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono, Providence guard Kris Dunn, Iowa center Adam Woodbury and the Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, of Travis High." [Editor's Note: Big East-bound players making the roster include Shaq Goodwin (Memphis), Jerami Grant (Syracuse), James Robinson (Pitt) and Montrezl Harrel (Louisville).]
Yea, But What Have You Done for Me Lately? ... Rob Dauster of NBC Sports writes, "for the second time in the past two months, Rick Pitino has urged one of his upperclassmen Steven Van Tresse, to transfer in an effort to get them more playing time. Back in April, Jared Swopshire officially announced that he would be transferring to Northwestern where he would be allowed to play immediately. Pitino is going to be ripped for this, especially coming on the heels of his decision to force George Goode out last season. It doesn’t help matters that last season, he needed three scholarship players — Elisha Justice, Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith — to become walk-ons. This is, quite literally, the definition of oversigning. And what makes the issue even more troublesome is the fact that the players Pitino is running off are getting "cut" due to injuries they’ve sustained. It would be one thing if Pitino came out and said that he is forcing these players to transfer by refusing to offer them a scholarship for next season. Instead, he is saying that he is doing this because it is in the best interest of the players. My issue is with how easy it is for a coach to get rid of a player when things don’t work out while it is, comparatively, a potential nightmare for the player if he decides he wants to leave." [Editor's Note: Recruits considering Villanova and Louisville -- take note!]
This Could Have All Been Avoided If Only You Hadn't Strayed ... NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster writes, "late last week, the schedule for the SEC/Big East Invitational was released and, as you can probably imagine, things didn’t quite go as well as Syracuse and Pitt had hoped. The Panthers, despite being told that they would be one of the three Big East schools that were on the outside looking in. Syracuse was scheduled, at Arkansas. And they were none too pleased. AD Darryl Gross, in a reply-all email eventually obtained by ESPN.com, essentially said, "Y’all trippin’. We’re not playing Arkansas." And while this led to many jokes involving Syracuse and how rarely they play outside the state of New York during the non-conference portion of their schedule."
Unequal Justice For All ... Associated Press reports, "Players testing positive for marijuana in the mighty Southeastern Conference do not face the one-year suspension that comes from getting busted by the NCAA.In the most successful league of the BCS-era, players routinely get third, fourth and even fifth chances before they're booted from the team; failed drug tests administered by the NCAA result in the automatic suspension. Currently, a second positive test at Mississippi might simply mean the loss of free tickets for family and/or community service. Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi State are the only ones with suspensions for athletes' first positive test for marijuana, 10 percent of the season for each. Kentucky includes possible dismissal for each of the first two positives, with a half-season suspension for No. 2." [Editor's Note: Reggie déjà vu.]