Derrick Wilson,Darrun Hilliard

‘Nova building tournament-worthy resume. Can they win in March?

1 Comment

It was senior night in Villanova, but a sophomore led the Wildcats to a Big Dance resume-enhancing win over No. 17 Marquette.

Darun Hilliard came up huge for a team teetering on the bubble, pouring in 22 points to help his team defeat the Golden Eagles 60-56. Another sophomore, JayVaughn Pinkston, chipped in 11, as did freshman phenom Ryan Arcidiacono. Maphtou Yarou was the only senior to have a strong showing, adding 10 points and 7 tough rebounds in a crucial win.

The Wildcats will have to win out to exceed 20 wins in the regular season, but they’re over .500 in the Big East, and that’s not chicken feed. They own big wins over Syracuse, Louisville and now Marquette – all on their home floor. Their only really bad loss is to Columbia, but there have been a few too many losses of any sort – ten overall at this point – to call the Wildcats a lock for an NCAA berth just yet. They’re tough at home, where they’ll face Georgetown to end the season in March, but they’re wobbly on the road, where they’ll spend the next week, with dates at Seton Hall and Pitt.

Villanova may very well end up with a tourney-worthy resume, but the question then becomes, do they have a tourney-worthy team? By which I mean, can they make it to the second week with the players they have, or will they be a novelty upset pick that fades away?

The answer to that question is partially coded in the first sentence of this article. ‘Nova has dynamite players who lack experience. Senior Yarou in the post is a big plus for a young team, but the real March pressure will fall on the shoulders of a young guard corps led by freshman Arcidiacono. He’ll need to show, over the next few weeks, that he can continue to direct Villanova’s offense through a series of gut-checks that won’t end until the season is over, one way or another.

The television-producer cliche is to cut away to a shot of the Rocky statue during games in Philadelphia. To extend the metaphor, right now Villanova looks like a team with a puncher’s chance in March. If they can take a couple of eight counts and still bounce back for the unlikely win on the road, like they have at home, there could be great days ahead.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady improving after being hospitalized

James Woodard, Anton Grady, Ron Baker
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Wichita State senior forward Anton Grady received some positive news on Saturday as a neurosurgeon reviewed MRI results, which are negative for spinal cord trauma.

According to a release from Wichita State, doctors believed Grady suffered a spinal cord concussion during a collision on Friday after he was taken off the floor in a stretcher and taken to a hospital in an ambulance. CT and MRI scans on Friday both turned up negative, but the news of Saturday’s results are an even more encouraging sign for Grady.

The injury for Grady occurred during a Friday loss to Alabama during the AdvoCare Invitational as the senior’s condition has improved since the collision. Grady will receive physical therapy over the next few days and doctors will check his progress before he is released from the hospital.

Grady has been alert and responsive to questions and had feeling in his extremities on Friday, but the use of his arms and legs was limited. By Saturday morning, Grady had improved the use of his extremities.

The 6-foot-8 Grady has averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season in his first season with the Shockers. The Cleveland State transfer is shooting 39 percent from the field.

Colorado’s Tory Miller reprimanded by Pac-12 after biting opponent

Dusan Ristic, Tory Miller
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.

During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.

In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.

“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”

Miller also released his apology in the same release.

“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.

For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?