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March 23, 2013

Hot-shooting Heels Oust 'Nova

North Carolina booted Villanova out of the NCAA Tournament with a 78-71 win in Kansas City. The Heels raced out to a twenty point, early first-half lead as the Cats struggled to find a comfort zone on an NCAA stage that was new to nearly the entire squad. Missed shots and turnovers by 'Nova led to UNC getting open looks in transition and the Heels kept knocking them down.

The Cats recovered from the early punch in the face and were able to get the tempo back under control and begin to chip away at the lead. 'Nova went to the locker-room down eight at the half but happy to be back within striking distance. In the second-half, the Cats would mount another surge and briefly held small leads. Unfortunately, a few blown defensive possessions led to three quick three-pointers by UNC from Hairston and Bullock and 'Nova was back in the play from behind mode. The wide disparity in three-point shooting proved to be the difference in the game.


Attitude to fight back from twenty down

Rebounded the ball well

Shot 44.3% from the floor

Reduced the turnovers in the second half to finish the game with a +1 turnover edge

Not so goods:

Started the game with a deer-in-headlights look - the early turnovers led to quick transition scoring opportunities for the Heels and they were making every shot they tossed up.

Poor job of guarding the three - Hairston and Bullock, the two best UNC three-ball shooters were frequently left unattended and they went off for 8-14 shooting beyond the arc. The 3-7 from the rest of the team you can live with.

49.0% FG defense, 52.4% 3PFG defense

Out-scored by 21 points from beyond the arc

Only 2 bench points for 'Nova

19.0% (4-21) three-point shooting

6 assists on 27 made baskets is indicative of a take 'em offense

Player Evals & Stats

Ryan Arcidiacono

33 Min, 2-11 FG, 1-8 3PFG, 5-6 FT, 3 Reb, 3 Asst, 4 TO, 3 Stl, 10 Pts

When he knocked down an early jumper it looked as if he could have been poised to have one of his higher scoring out-bursts. Unfortunately the speed of the UNC backcourt proved a bit troubling for him and he would only add one more FG to his ledger the remainder of the game. This wasn't his strongest floor game of the year. Overall, a solid Frosh campaign and expectations should continue to grow for Arcidiacono.

Darrun Hilliard

36 Min, 8-15 FG, 2-6 3PFG, 0-0 FT, 6 Reb, 2 Asst, 1 TO, 2 Stl, 1 Blk, 18 Pts

Hilliard was instrumental in the Cats comeback from twenty down to regain the lead. He played well on defense and was able to both knock down some threes and, more importantly, get the rim off the bounce. It will be interesting to see how his game continues to develop in the off-season. He is a gym rat with more of a traditional, three-man, skill-set - with the insertion of Dylan Ennis into the back-court with Arcidiacono, Hilliard should be able to use his court savvy and dribble-drive ability even more effectively - in addition to being able to spot up more from three when Ennis gets into the lane.

Jayvaughn Pinkston

34 Min, 8-15 FG, 0-1 3PFG, 4-6 FT, 8 Rebs, 0 Asst, 4 TO, 0 Blk, 1 Stl, 20 Pts

Pinkston had some turnover difficulty early and missed a close one late but Villanova would not have been in this game without his willingness to be the man on offense, create opportunities and knock down shots in the face of his defender. The Soph really came on towards the end of the season and should be poised to have a solid Junior campaign. Plays with passion - needs a dash of control added to that and he could be first team all-conference in the future.

James Bell

30 Min, 1-6 FG, 1-6 3PFG, 1-2 FT, 5 Rebs, 1 Asst, 1 TOs, 0 Blk, 0 Stl, 4 Pts

Not his best game by far. His offense consisted of a half-dozen three-ball attempts and a rare attempt to drive the ball to the rim. Couldn't get his jumper on line. Didn't stand out defensively but contributed on the glass. With Ennis joining the starting line-up next season, it is likely Bell will be slotted in the sixth man role.

Mouphtaou Yarou

36 Min, 7-11 FG, 3-4 FT, 8 Rebs, 0 Asst, 2 TO, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 17 Pts

Ended his Villanova career with a strong individual performance. Shot the mid-range jumper well, contributed on the glass and converted at the free-throw line. Yarou finishes his career 10th on the all-time rebounding list (wedged between John Pinone and George Raveling), 10th on the blocked shots list with 101 and 54th on scoring.

Tony Chennault

21 Min, 1-3 FG, 0-0 3PFG, 0-1 FTs, 3 Rebs, 2 Stl, 0 Asst., 2 TOs, 2 Pts

Scored on one strong drive to the rim that he finished in traffic. Handled the ball reasonably well and was pesky on defense but didn't create much in the way of scoring opportunities/good looks for himself or his teammates.

Daniel Ochefu

10 Min, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3PFG, 0-0 FTs, 2 Reb, 0 Asst, 1 TO, 0 Blk, 0 Stl, 0 Pts

Ochefu didn't get much run. He was a poor match-up defensively against the small line-ups of UNC. Had the Cats been able to dictate tempo better from the opening tip he may have seen more action. He will be relied on heavily next season and will have to spend the summer refining his offensive game.

Mo Sutton

Coach Wright put him into the game at the very tail end to give him some run in the last game of his Villanova career. He finishes his career #11 on the all-time Villanova blocked shots leader list.

The Wildcats started the season picked to finish twelfth in the Big East and certainly exceeded expectations. The NIT seemed to be a reasonable expectation and the team garnered a 9 Seed in the NCAA Tournament. Reliance on a new, somewhat inexperienced, rotation of players led to some early growing pains and head-scratching results. Lack of team speed, inconsistent shooting, marginal ball-handling/passing skills , and the inability to achieve dribble penetration basis were weaknesses that remained throughout the season.

Despite exceeding expectations the loss to North Carolina in the NCAAs is a difficult one for Villanova fans to swallow because it was the loss of a great opportunity. A chance to knock off a "less than vintage", Tarheel team and then be able to play with nothing to lose against #1 Seed Kansas doesn't come around very often. By the time the Cats got their sea legs the opportunity had morphed from being a good one to a being an extremely difficult hill to climb.

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