clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Sun’s Arizin: Villanova Basketball’s Seniors Step Up

Last night’s comeback requires a spotlight on the senior class.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Mug2

Happy Game Day (Part 2) Nova Nation! What a night at the Garden, and it’s just the beginning! Villanova came back from 17 points down to secure the victory over St. John’s in the final seconds. It was an amazing performance that had major contributions from every player. Gillespie and Moore hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Samuels and Dixon fighting through injury and illness when they shouldn’t even have been playing. Even smaller contributions from Longino, Antoine, and Arcidiacono were still immensely important.

But the spotlight for this game really belongs on two of the players who celebrated Senior Day just over a week ago: Caleb Daniels and Brandon Slater.

Let’s start with Daniels, who had had a team high 19 points to go along with 7 rebounds. Daniels has had an amazing season, and the lone criticism I’ve had of him this year is that sometimes he can get scoring tunnel vision that leads to poor shot selection. That simply wasn’t the case last night. While the rest of the team struggled shooting from outside the arc, Daniels shot over 55% from deep. He connected on five critical threes that kept Nova in the game in the first half and helped spark the comeback in the second half. He played physical, hard defense while only committing two fouls. In summary, he played Villanova basketball in every sense imaginable when the team needed a performance like that from him the most.

And then we have Brandon Slater. It wasn’t a stat stuffing performance from Villanova’s do it all wing, making just one shot from the floor and finishing with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block. But Slater delivered easily the most clutch performance of anyone on the team. First off, let’s talk about that one basket. Villanova was on a big run, and starting to close in on St. John’s when Gillespie came up with a steal. Slater sprinted with him down the court, finished through contact, and hit the following free throw to bring Nova within one point of taking the lead. It may have been his only basket, but it was such an important one.

Speaking of importance, let’s not forget that block. St. John’s was starting to shift the momentum. Wheeler had just made a huge dunk to get the Johnnies back within a point of Villanova, and then they forced Jordan Longino into a “charge” (cue huge eye roll). Coming out of the TV timeout, St. John’s continued to attack Nova by driving the lane, but this time Slater was having none of it. Instead of taking the lead on a layup, Slater sent the ball flying into a teammates hands, which ended up in Samuels extending the lead on the other end. Slater just kept making winning plays all night.

And if we’re going to talk about winning plays, let’s talk about Slaters team high five free throws. We all know that Villanova is on a historic pace with their free throw shooting, but Slater has been an unsung hero when it comes to it. He’s INCREDIBLY clutch at the line, and he showed it when it counted most. Not only did he make an amazing effort play to come up with an offensive rebound to get to the line in the final seconds of the game, he calmly sank two shots to both tie and then win the game. Ice Cold.

It’s absolutely true that Villanova wins as a team, but that team play is often made up of incredible individual efforts. This senior class hasn’t gotten the amount of hype and praise they would have if the Super Seniors hadn’t gotten an extra year, but it doesn’t mean they’re not deserving of it. And we’ll need them to play just as big a role tonight as Villanova takes on UConn in the Semi-Finals.

That of course brings us to today’s poll, and we’re keeping it simple. Which teams will put together another victory to push on to the Big East Tournament Finals?

Poll

Which teams will win the Big East Tournament Semi-Final Matchups?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    #1 Providence and #2 Villanova
    (140 votes)
  • 39%
    #4 Creighton and #2 Villanova
    (119 votes)
  • 10%
    #1 Providence and #3 UConn
    (32 votes)
  • 4%
    #4 Creighton and #3 UConn
    (14 votes)
305 votes total Vote Now

In other news...

Villanova vs UConn

Connecticut's MSG home-court advantage is back | New York Post
This was the price Big East foes knew they would be paying when UConn was invited back to where it belongs after its seven-year hiatus.

No. 8 Villanova to tangle with No. 20 UConn in Big East semifinal | Sportsnaut
Despite some nagging injuries and ailments, second-seeded Villanova advanced to the semifinals of the Big East tournament with a gritty 66-65 win over

UConn men get another chance to take down Villanova; Huskies, ‘Cats meet in Big East semifinals | Hartford Courant
The third-seeded UConn men's basketball team will go up against No. 2 seed Villanova in the Big East Tournament semifinals on Friday night at Madison Square Garden

Villanova Defeats St. John’s

Villanova wins a 66-65 Big East quarterfinal thriller over St. John’s | The Inquirer
A furious second-half comeback kept Villanova alive at Madison Square Garden.

Slater clutch, No. 8 Villanova rallies past St. John's 66-65 | lancasteronline.com
After falling way behind, Villanova fought back and showed its championship pedigree.

No. 8 Villanova rallies past St. John's in Big East quarters | SaltWire
EditorsNote: updates 3rd graf with Villanova to play UConn on Friday Brandon Slater made two free throws with 2.8 seconds left to complete No. 8 ...

Big East Tournament: St. John's upset bid falls short | New York Post
It was just a tease. This game. This season. St. John's dream of running the table in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden ended at a raucous Garden, Villanova ripping off an 18-2 run to get back into the game and winning it 66-65 on two Brandon Slater free throws with 2.8 seconds left.

Slater clutch, No. 8 Villanova rallies past St. John's 66-65 | Seattle Sports
NEW YORK (AP) -- After falling way behind, Villanova fought back and showed its championship pedigree. St. John's reverted to form, too, coming up short

Villanova Men’s Basketball

College basketball best players: Ranking top 50 in 2022 | Sports Illustrated
Ready for March Madness? Sports Illustrated ranks the players that have shaped the 2021–22 NCAA men’s basketball season. Two Villanovans make the cut...

2022 Big East tournament: Updates, bracket, TV schedule, betting odds as Providence, Villanova lead field | The Athletic
The Big East tournament is in Madison Square Garden with a full house back in the stands. Get excited.Providence, winner of the Big East regular-season title for the first time, is the No. 1 seed, but second-seeded Villanova is the favorite according to our model. And do not forget about UConn and Creighton.

Villanova Athletics

Softball Hosts Butler in BIG EAST and Home Opener This Weekend | Villanova University
VILLANOVA, Pa.—After playing the first 20 games of the season away from home over the first four weeks of the season, Villanova (8-12, 0-0 BIG EAST) will make its

Villanova Hosts NJIT This Weekend | Villanova University
VILLANOVA, Pa.-Fresh off an 11-4 home opener win over Lafayette, the Wildcats will face the NJIT Highlanders this weekend for a three-game series at Villanova Ballpark.

Men’s Lacrosse to Host No. 6 Penn Saturday for the Inaugural Farrell Cup | Villanova University
Villanova, Pa.- Villanova men's lacrosse will host the No. 6 Penn Quakers on Saturday afternoon for the 32nd meeting all-time between the two programs. The Wildcats

Track & Field Heads to NCAA Championships | Villanova University
VILLANOVA, Pa.—An exciting weekend with several milestones is ahead for the Villanova track & field teams as the 2022 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships get underway

Maryland-Villanova Women's Lacrosse Game Moved to Noon | University of Maryland Athletics
The No. 4 Maryland women's lacrosse game against Villanova on Saturday, March 12, originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m. has been moved up an hour to 12:00 p.m. due

Stahl moves up the program record book in first day of NIC | Villanova University
ELKHART, Ind. – Perri Stahl gained another top-10 time in the Villanova record book by the end the opening day of the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association