‘Cats pounce to No. 2 in national polls

Dave Pedra

‘Nova v. G-town, Cats v. Dogs, Augustinians v. Jesuits or Philly v. D.C.; call it whatever, the Villanova-Georgetown rivalry has elevated itself into the storybooks.

Every new student here internalizes two things immediately: first, Orientation’s infamous “bugaloo” and second, of a greater notoriety, the 1985 NCAA Championship game.

‘Nova’s greatest parquet achievement came in ’85 against Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas resulting in arguably the greatest upset in college sports history. It’s 2006. Add another chapter to the book.

The Wildcats came into Sunday’s game on a high. Actually, a high is an understatement; they were flying. After beating No. 1 UConn in front of a Pennsylvania record-breaking crowd at Wachovia, it was time for a follow-up performance. If ‘Nova did not beat then-No. 17 Georgetown, the win against the Huskies could have been moot, only sending the Hoyas to the top of the rankings. With that in mind, Villanova got to work.

Every time the Wildcats tried to pull away for good, the Hoyas clung to their legs like kids preventing their parents from going to work. The four-guard attack and the continual improvement of big men Will Sheridan and Dante Cunningham relayed the message that we only play with the big boys.

Analogies aside, Sunday’s showing was an impressive one. Allan Ray notched another exceptional game, dropping 20 points and shooting 50 percent from three-point range. In the past two games against UConn and G-town, Ray has scored 47 points and maintained a shooting percentage of almost 43 percent from the field.

However, against the Hoyas Randy Foye was not to be outdone, leading the ‘Cats in both points scored with 22 and rebounds with eight. With this unique backcourt, one can’t overlook the contributions of Mike Nardi and Kyle Lowry. Nardi is progressively feeling better, or at least appears so statistically, raining in 11 points compared to just one three-pointer against UConn. To his credit, though, that three-pointer caused a huge momentum swing. The tenacious Lowry chimed in with 13 points and continues to play larger than life, adding four rebounds and three steals. The play of these four guards and their capacity to carry each other every game place opponents in fear of leaving any of them open. Nobody can overestimate their heart and comeback ability.

While the play of the four guards is sensational, lately the weight has been shared with some larger shoulders, including those of Sheridan and Cunningham. Sheridan contributed nine points to the final score and grabbed some big boards. The value of Sheridan on the court has become, frankly, invaluable, supplying morale boosts and demonstrating his newfound skill at slamming in the ball. The cohesion exhibited on the court between this group evokes sentiments of watching best friends who have played street ball together their entire lives.

However, this Main Line gang can’t take a breather anytime soon. The ‘Cats head up to UConn this Sunday where the Huskies will be growling for blood, then home against St. John’s and finally to Syracuse to close out the regular season on the Orange’s Senior Day. There is still much work to be done for the Wildcats if they want this story to have a fairy-tale ending.