Men’s team prepares for first Knight duel

Joe Groglio


The score will remain in the heads of every Villanova fan on Earth, those who braved a snowstorm to attend Saturday’s contest at the Wachovia Center or those who watched at home on ESPN. The entire nation got a good look at a team’s potential finally coming full circle, as our beloved ‘Cats knocked off the No. 2 ranked and undefeated Kansas Jayhawks. This, paired with a comeback effort to defeat Notre Dame on Wendsday, leaves the Wildcats red hot headed into Saturday’s showdown with Rutgers at the RAC.

The Scarlet Knights are currently only 7-9, including 1-5 in Big East play. But don’t let that record fool you, this team is dangerous and it proved to be so against No. 4 Syracuse on Tuesday, losing 86-84.

The guards run the show for this team, as Junior Ricky Shields is the teams most consistent performer at 14.8 points per game. Right behind him is sensational sophomore Quincy Douby, who has lived up to his high praises by averaging over 16 a game. Juel Wiggan acts as the third guard, and provides solid depth off the bench.

Up front the Knights have very little size, as Marquis Webb is only 6’5″ and freshman Ollie Bailey is at 6’7. Jimmie Inglis and Byron Jones split time inside, where neither has done a consistent job, as the duo combine for only about eight points per game. Dan Waterstraght also adds depth inside. The duo of Jones and Bailey combined for 19 against Syracuse, so their ability cannot be overlooked despite their size.

The toughest aspect of this squad is their home arena, as the RAC is known as one of the toughest places to play in the country. The tightly packed gym combined with the rowdy Rutgers fans is a rough combination. This team is also very tough itself, playing up to their opponents, as shown in the Syracuse game.

For ‘Nova to win they must be patient with the ball, and work the paint. Our four-headed guard tandem can wear down the Rutgers trio. Tough play inside will let us take advantage of the obvious lack of height and experience in the Rutgers frontcourt. Dominance inside will force their guards to overcompensate by becoming overaggressive. If Douby or Sheilds gets in foul trouble, it will be extremely difficult for Rutgers to even stay close.

Rutgers likes to shoot the ball, and all the guards are capable of firing from three point range. Look for Villanova to play a lot of man to man defense, mixing in some zone if the Knights get too much penetration. On offense look for the usual Villanova attack, except many more entry passes into the post. Curtis Sumpter should have a field day against this team, and don’t be surprised if Marcus Austin has his best game of the season playing in his neck of the woods. It also could be an offensive coming out party for will Sheridan, as he will likely have a major mismatch all game. Rutgers likes to play man to man, but if we dominate inside Rutgers will probably shift to zone, and then our guards will drool at the number of open shots they get to take.

This game will be an immensely important one, as a victory would likely place the Cats in the top 25, and get us one win closer to the promised land of an NCAA tournament berth. Rutgers is young and talented, but missing a few pieces. However, they always get fired up for big games, and they will likely be excited at the prospect of ending this current Villanova hot streak. If we run our gameplan efficiently, and play good stingy defense as always, this team should be on a roll heading into next weeks ever important showdown with UConn