Villanova features a three guard offense and a balanced scoring attack that challenges opponents to defend them all over the floor.
The guard trio of Allan Ray (6-2, 205) Randy Foye (6-3, 195) and Mike Nardi (6-0, 175), mesh together nicely to form a challenging offensive package. Nardi is the playmaker, having dealt out 82 assists while still averaging 11.6 points per game. Ray is the shooter/scorer, recording 18.0 points per contest, while Foye (15.3 points per game) is a streaky shooter who also grabs almost five rebounds per game. All three guards shoot well from the free throw line, which is reflective of the team as a whole. The Wildcats lead the Big East, shooting 74.9% from the charity stripe.
Relief work for the guards is provided by Derrick Snowden (6-0, 170), a sometime starter in previous seasons. Snowden is averaging just 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per contest this year.
Athletic Curtis Sumpter (6-7, 220) is the mainstay on the front line, averaging 16.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Sumpter is especially active on the offensive glass, where he has grabbed one-third of his rebounding total.
He's joined by Jason Fraser (6-9, 215) has recovered from some nagging knee injuries and bounced back after serving his phone card suspension to become a force in the front court. He's averaging 6.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Top subs in the front court for the Wildcats are Will Sheridan (6-9, 240), Chris Charles (7-0, 215) and Andreas Bloch (6-8, 215), who have combined for 12.1 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
Ray is that most dangerous of offensive players - a solid shooter with the ability to take the ball to the basket or shoot the three with equal ability.
|Sat 1/31 4:00 p.m.|
WVU 11-6, 3-3
VU 11-7, 3-3
WVU - 73
VU - 63
|Margin: VU +6|
When Herber closely defends Ray on the perimeter, however, that will be an invitation for the sophomore scorer to put the ball on the floor. Ray isn't shy about doing just that, as he leads the Wildcats in free throw attempts, a sure sign that he isn't afraid to take the ball into the lane and draw contact.
Herber and other Mountaineer defenders will have to try to keep the ball out of Ray's hands, and also look to cut down on his drives to the basket and force him to give the ball up before he gets into scoring position. In a 1-3-1 defense, however, cutting dribble penetration is easier said than done.
Offensively, Herber will have a bit of a size advantage over his counterpart, so look for WVU's own steady sophomore to take Ray inside as much as possible.
VU: Marcus Austin (Foot) Questionable
Due to suspensions, Villanova began the season with a short bench, but has lately been getting more playing time for players in reserve roles. Players like Derrick Snowden and Andreas Bloch have missed games and aren't scoring as much as they were expected to, but they are dangerous performers coming off the bench and could have a big impact on the game.
West Virginia, on the other hand, has gone the opposite path. The Mountaineers have cut their rotation down to John Beilein's preferred eight-man spin in recent games.
However, unless the game breaks out into a run and gun affair (which isn't very likely) the difference in playing time shouldn't be a big factor. What will be the key is how the Mountaineers defend against the Wildcats' three guard attack. All of Villanova's perimeter players will shoot the three at a moment's notice, and they all have the ability to penetrate the angles of the 1-3-1 and get the ball inside to big players on the blocks and along the baseline on the weakside.
Even more than perimeter shooting, which will be another key to the contest, watch West Virginia's defense against the dribble. If they can keep Villanova out of the lane on the bounce, they will have a chance to contain the home team's balanced attack. If not, Villanova's front line will get a number of easy shots, which will be difficult for WVU to match.
Eight-nine percent of Villanova's points come from their starting lineup. No other team in the country has a greater percentage of scoring from their top five. Much of the credit (or blame) for that stat must be attributed to the suspensions served by five team members for the improper use of a university telephone access coded last year. With a short bench for much of the season, head coach Jay Wright has stuck with his starters for long stretches of the game.
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Given a normal performance, D'or Fischer is likely to break WVU's single-season block record against the Wildcats. Fischer trails former Mountaineer standout Marcus Goree (70 blocks) by just one entering the game. More amazingly, Fischer is already tenth in career blocked shots at WVU, despite having played in just 17 games. Should he complete his career at West Virginia, he would easily break Phil Wilson's career record of 178.
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One of the keys to Rutgers' win over the Wildcats last Wednesday was the ability of the Scarlet Knights to be patient with the ball on offense and work for a good shot. Sound familiar?
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After a bit of a rocky start, point guard Jarmon Durisseau-Collins is back on track in the assist to turnover category. The playmaking sophomore has 64 assists this season against 28 turnovers. Last year, the Houston native recorded 68 assists while committing just 27 turnovers.