Villanova showing resilience
Villanova has proven a lot this season, and most recently the Wildcats (18-2) have shown they can bounce back after figuratively being punched in the mouth.
A week after allowing 21 three-point field goals in a 96-68 loss to Creighton on Jan. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center, Villanova won, 94-85, in overtime at Marquette on Saturday. That broke Marquette's 20-game home win streak.
Then, on Monday, after opening the game with an 8-0 deficit, the Wildcats beat Georgetown, 65-60.
In both games Villanova made 22 free throws, going 22 for 32 against Marquette, including 9 for 9 in overtime, and 22 for 28 against Georgetown.
Coach Jay Wright was impressed by his team's ability to bounce back from the Creighton loss.
"They really have great character and mental toughness," Wright said in an e-mail. "When you win a lot of games and then get smacked in the face and you get knocked down, how you respond is important."
Adding to the wins, he said, is that they came over what Wright considers two very good teams.
"We haven't been pretty in either, but we found a way," he said. "I think it's resiliency and the leadership of James Bell, Tony Chennault, and Ryan Arcidiacono."
Last season after transferring from West Virginia, Temple's Dalton Pepper averaged 2.9 points in 11.3 minutes per game. This season he's averaging 17.9 points in 36.7 minutes.
According to coach Fran Dunphy, Pepper has clearly taken advantage of his increased playing time.
"He has gotten so much more of an opportunity to play," Dunphy said. "He had a lot of competition at his position last year and never got to the point of being confident."
Now it's a different story for a player who started one game in his first three seasons.
"It's not surprising what he has done because he always had tremendous ability and now it's a confidence level, knowing he will play 35 to 40 minutes a game," Dunphy said.
Penn senior guard Miles Jackson-Cartwright is scoring less but still producing at a high level. After averaging 13.5 points last season he is averaging 11.8, but is more efficient. Jackson-Cartwright shot 31 percent from three-point range last season (35 for 113). This year he is hitting 47.2 percent from beyond the arc (34 for 72), which is fourth in the Ivy League.
"A lot of people ask me why my shots are down and my answer is that I have a different role," Jackson-Cartwright said. "We have five players who can score, and I do what I need to do to get everyone involved."
Penn is just 4-11, but 1-0 (a win over Princeton) in the Ivy League. All 13 remaining games are in the Ivy. As a senior, Jackson-Cartwright feels urgency.
"We would have liked to have won more nonconference games," he said. "But we are looking at this Ivy League season as a fresh start."
It was a bittersweet time on Saturday for St. Joseph's senior guard Langston Galloway. He set a school record for career three-point field goals but saw his team lose, 77-62, at Richmond.
Galloway now has 296 career three-pointers, breaking the mark of 294 set by Pat Carroll.
On Sunday, Galloway said, he got to briefly reflect on the record before focusing on Wednesday's game at Dayton.
"I don't want to think about it too much because we have the rest of the season ahead of us and we are trying to make an NCAA tournament run," Galloway said. "I am glad we broke the record and now I can move on."
Galloway is second in the Atlantic Ten in three-point shooting percentage (46.2).
La Salle saw its five-game win streak snapped with last Wednesday's 66-51 loss at St. Bonaventure. And while coach John Giannini said the victors had everything to do with the outcome, the elements sure didn't help.
La Salle was supposed to fly to the game last Tuesday, but on the way to the airport came news that the flight was canceled because of the snowstorm.
The team ended up taking a bus that evening and arrived in Olean, N.Y., after 2 a.m. following a seven-hour bus ride.
"We didn't start out the game bad," said guard Tyreek Duren, whose team was tied at 37 with under 17 minutes left. "In the second half we didn't have any legs."
At least the Explorers got to fly home.
"It was like 45 minutes, nice and fast," Duren said.
La Salle followed that with Saturday's 97-89 double-overtime loss to VCU. In that game, the Explorers led, 69-59, with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left in regulation.
"It was tough losing, but I thought it was a good showing by our team, and I think it's only a matter of time until we start putting it all together," Duren said.
Drexel guard Chris Fouch is glad he returned for a sixth season. Imagine how Drexel feels.
Fouch missed most of last season with a broken ankle. It was the second season he lost to injury during his career.
This season he is averaging a team-high 18.8 points and started all 19 games for a 10-9 Drexel team that has been besieged by injuries.
"I am very happy I came back," he said. "I wanted to end my career on my terms, and now I have been given the opportunity and I am trying to make the most of it."