NCAA

Villanova's 2009 Final Four team reunites for big TBT win

tbt-supernova-team.jpg
Joe Bloss

Villanova's 2009 Final Four team reunites for big TBT win

Before there was Kris Jenkins, Scottie Reynolds was the one who hit “the shot.” His last-second heroics in 2009 propelled ‘Nova to its first Final Four since winning it all in 1985. He was the beloved Villanova Wildcat and still is the second-leading scorer in program history. So it makes sense a Supernova team with Reynolds and four other guys from that Final Four squad would be the second seed in The Basketball Tournament's Northeast region, who went on to beat 15-seeded South Jamaica Kings, 97-72.

But seedings didn't scare the Kings one bit Saturday during the TBT first round at Philadelphia University’s Gallagher Center.

“Shock the world,” guard Cameron Tyler said on the bench during a timeout.

For most of the first half, it looked like the shock was possible. The game was tied at 24 with four minutes left in the first of two 18-minute halves. The offense was not there for SuperNova. Some early threes fell, but 40 points at the break didn’t equate to the well-oiled machine a Jay Wright-run offense usually shows.

Reggie Redding, a starting guard on that 2009 Final Four team who played last season in Munich, knew what the problem was. And it’s just what you’d guess.

“Man, how many years?” he said. “How many years since we've played together? Guys not in the best shape, you know.”

Redding said that some of the team practiced in Villanova’s practice facility against current players Thursday. Clearly, they needed a bit more time to get back to their old ways.

But once the rust came off, it was Villanova basketball at its finest. South Jamaica Kings actually took the lead with just under four minutes left in the first half, 26-24. Then Supernova turned the corner. Reynolds knocked in a three. Then he did it again two possessions later. And in the final minute, he really looked like the guy who owned the Main Line a few years ago.

After a timeout, Reynolds got a dish while going full speed from the wing. But when he reached the basket, he tossed to the corner for an open three. It fell for the last basket of the half, executed to perfection just like that layup to beat Pitt and send the ‘Cats to Detroit. The mood had shifted.

“We gotta adjust, they going corners now,” one King said on his way off the court at the start of halftime. 

And in the second half, the story went from close call to not at all. Up 15 early, Reynolds again beat his man and went to the rim. Again he dished, this time to Redding in the corner. He didn’t convert, but Mo Sutton sure did. Sutton grabbed the ball above the rim and emphatically slammed it down in one motion. There was plenty of time left on the clock, but everyone in the gym knew it was probably over.

It was. Supernova continued to make it ugly. Everyone on the team scored. Reynolds had 15, Corey Fisher contributed 16, and Malcolm Grant, who played his freshman season at Villanova in 2007-2008 before transferring to Miami (Florida), led the way with 21 of the bench. Down the stretch, the interior passing between Jayvaughn Pinkston, Isaiah Armwood and Sutton looked like keep-away against a frustrated Kings bunch. In the game’s waning minutes, the effort was gone. Supernova was just looking to get to 100. The Kings were just looking to leave.

By the time the lead was comfortable, any stress of an early-round exit — which Villanova basketball is all too familiar with — had turned to joy. 

“When we get back together, it's like we never left each other,” Redding said. “Everybody don't keep in contact that much, but … It was fun, man, it's like we were back in the locker room.”

There were seven other games northeast region games Saturday, with plenty of Philly ties in a handful of the matchups. Here’s a brief recap of the rest of the action:

No. 8 Talladega Knights vs.  No. 9 Paul Champions
The contrast of Paul Champions is something else. Earl Boykins, one of the NBA’s shortest players ever at 5-foot-5, took command in a 78-74 win with 25 points and five assists. But then Paul Champions comes at you with a 7-foot-6 tower in Mamadou Ndiaye and fan favorite Chukwudiebere Maduabum, who’s 6-foot-10. They’ll be fun to watch moving forward.

No. 1 FCM Untouchables vs.  No. 16 OPI
The Untouchables are the No. 1 seed because of results like this one. OPI was down just six at half, but was held to just 39 percent from the field after the break. Coached by Kevin Durant’s brother Tony, the Untouchables are pretty much loaded with former NBA guys and European league studs. They won, 92-77.

No. 4 Team FOE vs. No. 13 DC On Point
The Philly connection runs deep on Team FOE. The Morris twins coach. Markus Kennedy, who played one season at Villanova before transferring to Southern Methodist, started down low, and Scott Rodgers of Drexel played up top. But if you needed any more notice that the squad was somewhat local, the crowd made that clear. In an 80-75 win that was really close down the stretch after a Team FOE comeback in the second half, the FOE fans went wild.

No. 5 Zoo Crew (Pittsburgh Alumni) vs. No. 12 Sideline Cancer
Often as it goes during March Madness, that 5-12 matchup wasn’t a breeze for the higher seed. Led by Levance Fields, the Zoo Crew kept it close against Sideline Cancer for all 36 minutes, but in the end, even Fields’ 35 points weren’t enough. Zoo Crew lacked the defense needed to advance. Five of Sideline Cancer’s seven players scored in double figures, and both Duane (not The Rock) Johnson and former St. Joseph’s guard Aaron Brown notched 25 points in a 100-87 win.

No. 6 City of Gods vs. No. 11 GaelNation
The two teams matched bucket for bucket for all 36 minutes. City of Gods, with Drexel’s Phil Goss and Temple’s David Hawkins, looked to be distancing themselves late until Javier Carter of GaelNation threw down maybe the meanest dunk of the day to that point. The Gaels tied it up a possession later, only to foul while in the bonus at the other end. But once City of Gods missed both with 8.7 seconds left, Steven Burtt got the rock and sprinted for a layup at the other end. He drained it and City of God’s advanced to the front court with a timeout. They missed and that was it. GaelNation won, 88-86.

No. 3 Boeheim's Army (Syracuse Alumni) vs. No. 14 DuBois Dream
Boeheim’s Army was the only team to begin its blowout from the get-go. They shot 41 percent from deep in the first half and jumped out to a 14-0 lead. The gap was 20 at the half. In the second half, they changed gears and ran the break. DuBois Dream was small, with their tallest man at 6-foot-8, and that showed. Rick Jackson and DaShonte Riley had their way inside and it ended as a lopsided finish, 99-66.

No. 7 Team Fancy vs. No. 10 Rebel Riders (Rider Alumni)
The gym was rather hollow compared to earlier in the day, but the intensity wasn’t cut out. Things got chippy by the game's end, with the Rebel Riders losing, 77-70. However, two local guys put up notable efforts. Temple’s Ramone Moore posted 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting. And Jason Thompson, a 6-foot-11 Medford, New Jersey, native and Rider alum who spent eight seasons in the NBA, totaled 12 points and 16 boards. You might remember Thompson from a certain trade involving the Sixers a few years back (think: pick swap). He most recently played professionally in China. 

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

BOX SCORE

That’s why football is a week-to-week game. Forget about momentum.

Temple found that out the hard way. After coming alive in a big road win over East Carolina last week, the Owls were humbled when a fourth-quarter rally fell short Saturday in a 28-24 homecoming loss to Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls had one final shot at the victory with a drive in the final minute, but a Logan Marchi heave to the end zone was broken up.

The loss dropped Temple back under .500 at 3-4 (1-3 American Athletic Conference). UConn moved to 2-5 (2-2) with the victory.

• Say what you want about Temple quarterback Marchi (and you surely will after this game), but the guy is a fighter. Whether things are going his way or not, he continues to try to search for his receivers and attempt to squeeze the ball into those windows on the field. He made it two consecutive games with 300-plus yards passing as he was 33 of 54 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday.

• The game marked Temple’s first homecoming loss in nearly a decade. TU hadn’t suffered a homecoming defeat since a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. On that day, former Eagles DB Jaiquawn Jarrett was beaten in coverage on a double move in the third quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Coming into Saturday, the Owls had won eight straight homecoming matchups by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• There was a rare sighting for Temple at the Linc: a rushing touchdown from a tailback. In fact, there were two. David Hood, who became the first Owls tailback to score on a run this season in last week’s rout of East Carolina, punched it in from one yard out to open the scoring in the first quarter. Ryquell Armstead weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.

• Delvon Randall is simply a playmaker. The Owls’ leading tackler, Randall added another five stops in Saturday’s win. The junior DB also made a beautiful play along the sideline in the first quarter when he undercut an out route for an interception. It marked Randall’s third straight game with a pick. The Owls only have four interceptions this season and Randall has three of them.

• My colleague Greg Paone touched on college football’s targeting rule a couple of weeks ago (see story)We agree on pretty much all of the nuts and bolts of the rule. I’m glad it’s in place to protect players from violent and unnecessary hits. However, the more I see it called each week — and it seems like there is at least one in every game now — the more I’m starting to dislike the implementation. Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch was ejected for targeting on Saturday when he went high on Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs on a third-quarter touchdown pass. Shirreffs sold the hit by jerking his head back as he fell to the ground, but it was definitely worthy of a penalty. Was it a late hit? Yes. A bone-headed hit? Absolutely. But one worthy of Temple losing a top defensive player for the remainder of the game? I don’t think so.

• Speaking of Shirreffs, it’s easy to see why the Huskies have the best passing offense in the AAC. He didn’t show it with yardage in this tilt (just 105), but he was able to connect on three touchdowns through the air. He also added 39 yards on the ground, including a key run up the middle late in the fourth quarter.

• The Owls simply aren’t a good enough team to overcome 12 penalties for 117 yards.

• Like any other major college football game around the country, Saturday’s matchup at the Linc had scouts from NFL teams listed to attend. Of course, the Eagles were listed for several scouts in their home stadium. While the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were also among those expected to have representatives at the game, there was only one other team labeled for more than one scout besides the Eagles — the New York Giants. At 0-5, they can certainly use all the help they can get right now.

• Temple will look to rebound when the Owls travel to play their final non-conference opponent in Army at 12 p.m. next Saturday.

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

usa-logan-marchi-temple.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

Temple (3-3, 1-2 American) vs. UConn (1-4, 0-3 American)
Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNews
Noon Saturday

Last time out
Temple beat East Carolina, 34-10, last Saturday.

UConn lost to Memphis, 70-31, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week, quarterback Logan Marchi finally got on track with his first 300-yard game of the season against East Carolina. This week, the redshirt sophomore will face UConn, the team he initially committed to in high school under former coach Paul Pasqualoni. Marchi was then denied after a coaching change was made. The Huskies have the worst passing defense in the AAC, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, and have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air in 2017. If Marchi can play well for a second week in a row, look for Temple’s offense to put up some points. 

Another matchup to look at is UConn’s passing attack against Temple’s defense. The Huskies’ boast the best passing offense in terms of yards in the AAC, averaging 325.8 yards per game, but have only scored nine touchdowns this year. Temple, on the other hand, allows the eighth-most passing yards in the conference (253 yards per game), but is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. Connecticut must convert drives into touchdowns against this Owls defense if it wants to compete.

What it means
Temple’s hopes to reach the AAC championship game might not be realistic anymore but its bowl hopes are still alive. A win against UConn would put the Owls just two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible, which after their start would be good for Owl fans.

Series history
Temple holds the 12-5 series advantage over Connecticut, and is currently on a three-game win streak.

What’s next?
Temple travels to Army.

UConn hosts Tulsa. 

Penn (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) at Columbia (4-0, 1-0 Ivy)
Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
1:30 p.m. Saturday


Last time out
Penn lost at Central Connecticut State, 42-21, Saturday.

Columbia defeated Marist, 41-17, Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn’s strength is its rushing attack. They rank second in the Ivy League averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. Karekin Brooks has 543 yards rushing and five touchdowns so far this season. Getting the ground game going will be key for the Quakers this week.

Columbia defense has been strong so far this season. The Lions rank second in the Ivy League in total defense only allowing 316 yards per game and are third in the Ivy in pass defense. The Lions allow 194.8 yards per game through the air.

Series history
This is the 96th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 73-21-1 advantage and have won the last 19 editions.

What’s next?
Penn hosts Yale.

Columbia is at Dartmouth.

Villanova (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA)
Bridgeforth Stadium
6 p.m. Saturday


Last time out

Villanova defeated Maine, 31-0, Saturday.

James Madison beat Delaware, 20-10, Saturday.

Scouting report
Villanova has allowed just 1.6 yards per carry and 52 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats boast a strong scoring defense as well, the best in the Colonial allowing only nine points per game.

James Madison boasts the second-best rushing offense in the CAA averaging 223 yards per game and is second in scoring defense. The Dukes allow just 10 points per game to opposing offenses. Look for this game to be defensive showdown.

Series history
This is the 26th meeting between the teams. James Madison leads the series 14-11 and won 20-7 last season.

What’s next?
Villanova hosts Elon next Saturday.

James Madison travels to William & Mary next Saturday.