Saturday, February 13, 2016

Wildcats' season crumbles under them

So was it any better watching Villanova on television Monday night than it was watching in person?

Wildcats' season crumbles under them


So was it any better watching Villanova on television Monday night than it was watching in person?

If I were home watching, I would have willingly changed the channel from ESPN to ABC and turned to "The Bachelor." That's how bad it was.

Villanova saw its freefall continue, losing 93-72 to Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., for its third straight defeat and fifth in its last seven games. The Fighting Irish connected on a school-record 20 three-pointers in 32 attempts for a lavish 62.5 percent figure.

Yes, we'll give Notre Dame its due for knocking down the three-balls. But a vast majority of them went uncontested by a Villanova defense that has completely fallen apart in the last two games.

The Wildcats' season has become bizarre. Ranked sixth in the preseason and in the Top 10 for much of the first three months of the season, the Wildcats now find their ranking -- and their NCAA seed -- diving like few teams have experienced in recent memory.

With a game at Pittsburgh the only game remaining in the regular season, followed by a likely Tuesday first-round date in the Big East tournament, the Cats conceivably could be entering the NCAAs on a five-game losing streak.

Villanova coach Jay Wright tried to put on a brave face afterward. He called the game "another bump in our road and we've had a few here. But I don't look at it as disatrous -- as disastrous as it did look."

Wright also said the Wildcats "obviously are not playing with great confidence" and that he was worried about his team's psyche.

THe Wildcats got off to another brutally bad start, falling behind early and watching as Notre Dame gradually built the lead behind its three-point shooting. Maalik Wayns was the only Villanova player making any kind of impact at the offensive end, and the Fighting Irish built their lead to as much as 25 just before the end of the opening half.

Notre Dame built the lead to 32 with 10 minutes, 40 seconds left in the game. Up to that time, the Wildcats had 36 points. They scored 36 more the rest of the way, downing eight three-point baskets and getting 15 of Corey Fisher's team-high 22 points.

The loss dropped Villanova into sole possession of 11th place in the Big East, as the Wildcats fell out of a five-way tie for seventh. Given they have to play at Pitt on its Senior Day with the Panthers needing a win to clinch the regular season title, a 9-9 finish looks to be in play.

We'll take a more detailed look at this as the week goes on. Right now, though, the Wildcats need to come up with some confidence -- any confidence -- if theyw ant to keep their season going. The defense and rebounding must improve, and the Wildcats' offensive efforts have to involve everyone -- Fisher and Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena and Maalik Wayns.

"We've got to keep our guys together," Wright said. "Obviously we’re not playing well. I can’t hide that. But we’re not giving up and we’re not looking at this as disastrous."

Really, what else can he say?


Staff Writer
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About this blog
Joe Juliano first visited the Palestra in 1970 after entering Temple University and became hooked for life on Big Five basketball. He'll always go with that name, figuring if the Big Ten can have 12 teams, why can't the Big Five have six?

Juliano joined the Inquirer in 1985 after 10 years at United Press International and has covered college sports for most of that time. His current beats are Villanova basketball, Penn State football, golf and the Penn Relays. Reach Joe at

Joe Juliano Staff Writer
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