If you’re going to clone someone, he’s not a bad choice ... Mark Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer quotes Coach Talley saying, “John Robertson is the closest to Matt Szczur, lower-body wise. He has that kind of speed and kind of leg strength." The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Robertson has rushed for 242 yards (5.0 average) and four touchdowns.
Maine Task at Hand ... Mr. Narcucci writes, “After playing Temple at Lincoln Financial Field to open the season and facing Penn last week at Franklin Field, Villanova will visit Maine at 3:30 p.m. in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup. The Wildcats (3-1 overall, 1-0 CAA) have won three in a row since the opening, 41-10 loss to Temple. "For us the challenge is can we go on the road and win," Villanova coach Andy Talley said. "Now we go on an airplane and [experience] the hassle of traveling and everything, and we will see how we respond."
About Football... Mr. Narcucci writes, Villanova’s football team has pitched consecutive shutouts in the second half of the last two games and the Wildcats appear to be improving. Yet for Villanova to truly get the next level, the Wildcats will have to play four quarters. “We haven’t in the last two weeks been able in the first half to take control of the game and I am not sure we can do that with anybody,” Talley said. “We are an offense that needs time and our defense has the opportunity to be pretty good early and hold us in until we catch our breath and get going.”He says this because the Wildcats are still adjusting to redshirt freshman John Robertson at quarterback. “We are figuring out what he can do and what we can do as a young offensive team,” Talley said. Yet he has brought energy and playmaking ability to the team and the hope is that Robertson and the rest of the team can build on the second half the last two weeks and take it to the beginning of games. Mr. Narducci’s blog adds, “In Villanova’s three straight wins, the Wildcats have committed zero turnovers. Think there is a correlation? The ability to play relatively turnover-free has been the biggest difference between the beginning of this season and last.”
What Was Andy Thinking? Now that Andy Tally has gone to the dark side, I am the last person on the planet that does not tweet, and intend to stay that way! Here’s a recap of Coach Andy Tally’s thoughts during his first week of tweeting: “After 45 years of coaching, 2 things can happen, we will either win or lose! I hope we win!!!!! … Cats win!! Great progress for our team. On to Orono!!! … Maine coach, Jack Cosgrove, class act,WO Joe Price Flight at 10:30 Friday am to Orono. … All recruiting calls made. Good week of practice. Let’s see if we can get it done on the road. Ready for rain game in Maine. GO CATS!”
What Was Jay Thinking? … Here’s a recap of Coach Jay Wright’s tweets this week: “St. Thomas of Villanova Day is today – great day of service our guys are proud to be a part of! Was saddened to learn of the passing of NYC legend Marv Kessler last week – a great coach and mentor to so many! … Welcome to the Twitter Family CoachTalley - congrats on great win on Saturday at Penn and good luck at Maine! … Great to be with ’85 championship team alum Brian Harrington at his ‘Each One Counts’ event Monday. Awesome day – tremendous cause! … Our guys will be out to support Villanova Volleyball as it Jams the Jake on Friday night – great chance to see Cats VB! … Nova Nation a little sadder this week with the passing of the legend Bobby Domenick. Great friend to so many here through the years!”
Is It Basketball Season Yet? ... The Sports Bank (OK, desperate times call for desperate measures) gives Villanova a #68 preseason ranking, reporting “Villanova enters the season with low expectations, something new during the Wright era. Their young roster has plenty of room to grow from last year’s disappointing season, but don’t expect a massive turnaround in the 2012-13 campaign. I expect a seventh-place finish for the Cats in the Big East. Likely to take over at the point is Tony Chennault, bringing some needed experience to the backcourt. He will be pushed by Ty Johnson who is definitely more of a floor general than scorer, and highly-touted freshman Ryan Arcidiacono. On the wing, James Bell will be asked to pick up the scoring slack left behind by Cheek. The athletic, physical off guard could be poised for a breakout season now that it will be his time to shine. Darrun Hillard and Achraf Yacoubou should see larger roles with Hillard likely to take over as starting shooting guard. Croatian shooter Mislav Brzoja could become a source of instant offense off the bench as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chennault, Arcidiacono, and Bell emerge as the main trio. Up-front, Mouphtaou Yarou has steadily improved his offensive game but is still most effective as a rebounder and physical defender down low. JayVaughn Pinkston is a tough match-up for opposing defenses due to his combination of strength and skill on the offensive end. Maurice Sutton played well late last season relying on his length and athleticism though his lack of strength and low basketball IQ continues to hinder his effectiveness. Daniel Ochefu is also long and athletic but is fairly skilled as a scorer and should factor into the frontcourt rotation right away.
The Best Intra-City Rivalries ... Mike Waters of The Post Standard lists his five best intra-city basketball rivalries, with Villanova vs. the rest of Philly coming in at number two. He writes, “Anyone who thinks Philadelphia isn't the best college basketball city in the nation needs to check out Villanova's schedule. The Wildcats will play at LaSalle on Nov. 25. They'll host Temple at the Pavilion on Dec. 5. Villanova plays at Penn in the Palestra on Dec. 8 before returning to the Pavilion to play St. Joseph's on Dec. 11. That's four intra-city games in the span of 17 days and two of them are away from home.” [Editor’s Note: Xavier vs. Cincinnati came in at number one.]
Not to Be Outdone ... Scott Polacek of BleacherReport lists what he sees as the ten nastiest rivalries in college basketball, those distinguished by their passion, bright school colors, crude chants from the student section and just the right amount of hatred on the court or field from the players. The Big Five makes his list, with the commentary “There is nothing quite like the college basketball rivalries between the five schools in the Philadelphia area. Penn, LaSalle, St. Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova hail from three separate conferences (Atlantic 10, Ivy League and Big East) and battle it out every season. While some rivalries between the Big Five are more intense than others (Villanova and St. Joe’s play in “The Holy War”) the tradition, pageantry and overall intensity of Philadelphia sports fans makes these games as intense as any.”
About Maalik… Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com writes “The Sixers will have 17 players on the roster when camp begins Tuesday at Saint Joseph’s University. Twelve have fully guaranteed contracts and former Villanova standout Maalik Wayns has a partial guarantee. Tyler Tynes of RantSports adds, “Wayns lacks proper offensive vision and is smaller than the average NBA guard. He will have a difficult time adjusting to professional basketball and most likely will split time with Jrue Holiday. However, he shows the potential to be good backup guard for a few years.
No More Whiteboards ... Rob Dauster of NBC Sports reports that the latest weapon in the Duke basketball arsenal is iPads. The iPads will be uploaded with game-tapes, scouting reports, personnel breakdowns and offensive and defensive edits for matchups with future opponents, which is an incredible tool for the Duke coaching staff to provide. The players are, quite literally, a four-digit passcode and a couple of strokes of a touch-screen away from having a complete breakdown of their last game as well as a full scouting report for their next opponent.
Big East Crime Blotter ... Daniel Martin of NBC Sports reports, “Temple guard Khalif Wyatt has been fined $1,000 and sentenced to community service in connection with a June arrest as part of prostitution sting while he was in New Jersey celebrating his 21st birthday. He reportedly solicited an undercover police officer who was posing as a prostitute, then tried to flee the scene before officers arrested him.”
Texas Tech Caretaker ... Rob Dauster of NBC Sports reports that Billy Gillispie is no longer the head coach at Texas Tech. He writes, “The official party line is that Billy Gillispie has submitted his letter of resignation due to health reasons. Former Villanova player and Assistant Coach, Chris Walker, will handle the “day-to-day operations” of the team until a decision on an interim head coach for the 2012-2013 has been made.