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

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

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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?


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

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Villanova vs UConn

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Villanova Defeats St. John’s

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Slater clutch, No. 8 Villanova rallies past St. John's 66-65 | Seattle Sports
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Villanova Men’s Basketball

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Villanova Athletics

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