Villanova Wildcats: Undersized, Overlooked, On Their Way To The Final Four
In the minutes before the Villanova-Duke Sweet 16 game tipped off late Thursday night, a CBS reporter (forgive me for my ignorance in forgetting which one) described the aforementioned match-up as "the only Sweet 16 game in which neither team has a chance at the championship."
Honestly, even as a Philadelphia resident, I laughed a little when other 'nova fans proclaimed that Villanova was going to win it all. What are those odds? I didn't think they had a shot in hell. But hearing that same thought from someone else, from someone who gets paid to say things like that on national television... that got me thinking.
All this thought ultimately lead to one question: why not?
If there's one thing that makes a championship caliber team, it's being multi-dimensional on offense. And if there's one team that's multi-dimensional in the Elite 8, it's the Villanova Wildcats.
According to D'Aniello's Basketball Dictionary: multidimensional (adj) - Term used to describe a basketball team that can win games using the low post or shooting the lights out from beyond the arc, running the floor or slowing the game down and running the offense. A multidimensional team often has at least four players that can step up and lead the team on any given night.
This is Villanova basketball. If you've watched them at all this season, you know that the Wildcats are a team of role-players. "Role-player" can often be used as a negative term describing a player that just skims by doing his part and functioning only for the fundamentals. Not in Villanova's case.
The Wildcats' "role-players" aren't just running through the motions. They're McDonalds' All-Americans like Corey Fisher, a highly recruited guard from the Bronx and the best sixth man in the Big East, and stars like Scottie Reynolds, one of the best point-guards in the NCAA at taking over a game, and Dante Cunningham, who was voted Most Improved Player in the Big East.
Aside from his size, it's hard to make an argument against Dante Cunningham being one of the best players of the remaining Elite 8 teams. His addition this year of a sharp, mid-range jumper, which forces defenders to cover him no matter where he is on the court, while attempting to not allow him to gain inside position, has made Cunningham the most versatile player I've watched all season.
Oh yea, their defense isn't too bad either, as proven by Duke's season low 54 total points to 'Nova's 77 points on Thursday.
For Nova, with this now nationally recognized defense, along with their multidimensional offense the sky is the limit. Whether it's with one guy like Reynolds or Cunningham taking over a game, like they can on any occasion when needed, or getting six different players in double figures, like 'Nova did against UCLA in the second round, Villanova's scoring role-players can beat any team remaining in the Elite Eight.
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