Villanova

Villanova promotes Baker Dunleavy to associate head coach

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With associate head coach Billy Lange making the move to the Philadelphia 76ers coaching staff, Villanova head coach Jay Wright had a position to fill just days before schools are allowed to officially begin team practices. With Kyle Neptune, who served as the program’s video coordinator from 2008-10 rejoining the staff as an assistant, Villanova announced Wednesday that Baker Dunleavy’s been promoted to associate head coach.

Dunleavy’s been a part of the Villanova program for quite some time, first as a player from 2002-06 and then serving as director of basketball operations and an assistant coach under coach Wright. The associate head coach is essentially the head coach’s “right hand man,” so having someone familiar with the program and how the head coach wants things done can certainly be an advantage.

“Baker was one of the leaders of our 2006 Big East championship team and he’s developed into an outstanding coach,” Wright said in the release announcing both moves. “Baker has a great understanding of what it takes to succeed at this level and an instinctive feel for this program’s core values. He serves as a great example of what a successful Villanova Basketball player can become.”

Villanova also officially announced Neptune’s hiring, which was reported earlier this week. After spending two seasons on Wright’s staff as the video coordinator Neptune made the move to Niagara, where he served as an assistant under Joe Mihalich. After coach Mihalich accepted the open head coaching position at Hofstra in the spring Neptune made the move to Hempstead as well, but Lange’s move to the NBA resulted in an opening the young assistant would ultimately fill.

Former Villanova guard Achraf Yacoubou to transfer to St. Louis

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Late last evening, Ben Weixlmann broke the news that Villanova sophomore guard Achraf Yacoubou will be transferring to St. Louis University.

This is a solid pickup for Jim Crews, who was recently hired full-time as the St. Louis coach (Crews was the interim coach for the 2012-13 season after college basketball legend Rick Majerus passed away). Yacoubou developed into a legitimate threat from the perimeter during his sophomore season connecting on 39.6% of his three point attempts (21-53)—13 percentage points better than his freshman season.

As a sophomore, Yacoubou averaged 2.9 points per game in 12.0 minutes of action, but saw his floor time evaporate in the latter half of the Big East schedule through the rest of the season. Yacoubou averaged just a shade above 14 minutes in Villanova’s first 25 games of the season, but saw a total of just 19 minutes in their final nine contests.

When he announced his decision to transfer in early April, his initial list of schools, according to Adam Zagoria, were Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), and UNLV. A month later, Yacoubou narrowed the list down to Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, and St. Louis.

The guard from the Bronx, NY certainly doesn’t lack any confidence:

I averaged the highest 3-point percentage and field goal efficiency and was the best defensive player on the team and I also played well against Louisville and Syracuse and when I played 25 minutes I led the team in points and rebounds. But after the last Syracuse game I ended up averaging 12 minutes and I wanted to play more but I wasn’t.

With his minutes waning significantly as the season progressed, it is easy to see why Yacoubou wishes to take his remaining two years at another school.

Per NCAA transfer rules, Yacoubou will be required to sit out for the 2013-14 season, and will become eligible for 2014-15.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Villanova all but punches ticket to NCAA tournament with win over No. 5 Georgetown

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As bubble teams around them have fallen in recent weeks and after losing two games itself that it could have done without, Villanova got another victory over a Top 5 team Wednesday that all but punches its ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston scored 20 points and Villanova beat No. 5 Georgetown, 67-57, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

The win moves the Wildcats to 19-12 overall and 10-8 in the Big East with quality wins over Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette, and now the Hoyas. Of the teams currently on the bubble, few if any boast the slate of victories that Villanova does. At the same time, though, the Wildcats have bad losses to Columbia and Seton Hall.

Villanova’s RPI (55) and SOS (29) will also help on Selection Sunday, barring an unlikely run in the Big East tournament that gets it the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Turnovers are still a concern for Villanova, though. The Wildcats turned the ball over 16 times on Wednesday, but were still +4 in that category by forcing an uncharacteristic 20 Georgetown turnovers. Looking ahead to the Big East tournament, that will likely be one of the stumbling blocks for this team.

In the absence of a consistently dominant scorer who can take over a game down the stretch, turnovers can lead to big deficits and early exits from the remaining tournaments this season. And the burden falls on the entire lineup. Every Villanova starter had at least two turnovers Wednesday and every player that saw the floor had at least one.

For more coverage, visit CSNPhilly.com.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

CBT Podcast: Breaking down the NCAA Tournament Bubble

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Episode 9 of the CBT Podcast is here.

Troy Machir, the host of the CBT Podcast sits down with Andy Glockner of Sports Illustrated to discuss the current state of the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Selection Sunday is less than five weeks away and there are a handful of teams who can still determine their own fate.

While Andy doesn’t believe this will be the year a No.16-seed defeats a No.1-seed, he does believe there are a bevy of sleeper teams that can make a deep run.

There are 377 Division I basketball programs in the country, but no teams have as bizarre of a tournament resume as Illinois and Virginia. Troy and Andy discuss their resumes and debate which team can make a deeper run.

There is a lot to get to in the week’s edition of the CBT Podcast, so if you’re ready for the best 30 minutes in college basketball, click “play” or open the link below and let’s get things started.
 
 

 
 
Mobile Friendly Player: CBT Podcast Episode 9
 
 
Remember, the CBT Podcast is now available on iTunes. Also, if you have any questions you want featured on upcoming podcasts, tweet them to @CBTonNBC
 
 
You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Ryan Arcidiacono’s heroics help Villanova beat No. 3 Syracuse in overtime thriller

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Is this really the same Villanova team that lost to Columbia by 18 points on Nov. 20?

Guard James Bell hit two key three-pointers in overtime to lead unranked Villanova to a 75-71 win over No. 3 Syracuse at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., on Sunday.

The win is Villanova’s second over a Top 5 team this week, having already beaten No. 5 Louisville on Wednesday, 73-64. They become the first unranked team since Ball State in 2001 to win two straight games against teams ranked in the nation’s Top 5, according to ESPN Stats and Info. During that season, Ball State did not make the NCAA tournament.

The victory improves Villanova to 13-7 overall and 4-3 in Big East play.

On the final Villanova possession of regulation, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim chose not to foul with his team up three, 61-58, with 0:08 to play.

Bell missed a three-pointer, but forward Mouphtaou Yarou grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to freshman Ryan Arcidiacono in the corner. Arcidiacono hit a contested three pointer to tie the game at 61 and send it to overtime, where Bell and the Wildcats were able to grind out a win.

Guard Darrun Hilliard had a career-high 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor. Arcidiacono finished with 10 points.

Villanova shot out to a quick 10-0 lead to begin the game, spacing the floor and working the ball into the paint to create space for open looks on the perimeter.

Hilliard found his stroke in the first half with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting at the break. He carried the Wildcats in the first half, along with Yarou, who had six points.

The Villanova defense did a good job of disrupting Syracuse’s scoring trio of Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair, and Michael Carter-Williams, each of whom shot just 2-of-8 from the floor in the first half.

Syracuse struggled from the floor and did not finish well around the rim, except during an 8-0 run that pulled the Orange to within four points, 25-21, with 3:30 to play in the first half. During that stretch, Villanova was held scoreless for over five minutes.

Villanova held a six-point halftime lead.

After trading baskets early in the second, Syracuse went on a 12-4 run to gain its first lead of the game and extend the lead to four points, 45-41, with 11:47 to play.

Syracuse began to attack the basket more consistently during that run and earned trips to the free throw line, but were outrebounded, 44-35, on the afternoon.

Down the stretch of the second half, Syracuse slowed down its offensive sets and milked the shot clock.

The Orange looked for a spark from guard Brandon Triche late and he delivered with 23 points and six rebounds after a slow first half, but offensive woes in the final minutes were difficult to overcome.

Over the course of four offensive possessions in the last three minutes of regulation, Michael Carter-Williams turned the ball over twice, missed a runner in the lane, and missed a key free throw that would have made it a two-possession game, but the lead remained at 61-58. That left the door open for Arcidiacono’s game-tying three.

Carter-Williams finished with 16 points, but shot just 4-of-17 from the floor and turned the ball over four times. He and the rest of the Syracuse team struggled from the free throw line, going 18-of-34.

For more coverage, check out CSNPhilly.com.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Late Night Snacks: Court-storming students own the night

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Game of the Day: Wake Forest 86, No. 18 NC State 84

There haven’t been many things to get truly excited about at Wake Forest in the two-plus seasons coach Jeff Bzdelik has been at the school, but Tuesday’s win over a ranked team gave Demon Deacon fans a reason to storm the floor.

Devin Thomas was the catalyst of it all, posting a career night of 25 points and 14 rebounds. Three other players were in double figures and helped Wake Forest erase a 12-point halftime deficit.

For NC State, it has been an eventful 10-day stretch. On Jan. 12, the Wolfpack stormed the floor to celebrate its win over No. 1 Duke. After losing to Maryland on Jan. 16, Terrapin fans stormed the floor. Now on Tuesday, Wake Forest fans rushed the court. Ten days, one court storm in celebration, two by opposing fan bases.

Important Outcomes 

1. Villanova 73, No. 5 Louisville 64

Louisville was sloppy in its loss to Villanova Tuesday. It turned the ball over 17 times and shot 12-of-24 (50 percent) from the free throw line. The Wildcats are, mind you, a team that lost to Columbia by 18 points back in November. JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono led the way for Villanova, two of five players in double figures.

Louisville has now lost two in a row and face a road matchup with Georgetown on Saturday.

2. No. 22 Missouri 71, South Carolina 65 

South Carolina did a good job of using a zone defense to force Missouri into half-court sets in the first half. This all but eliminated the Phil Pressey-driven transition offense and had the Gamecocks in control going into the second half. At one point, though, it clicked. Missouri ripped off an 18-2 run to take the lead and fought off a tough South Carolina comeback to hold on for the win. Credit also goes to Earnest Ross, who had 21 points in his effort to compensate for the absence of Laurence Bowers and Keion Bell.

3. No. 3 Kansas 59, No. 11 Kansas State 55

Travis Releford had 12 points on an efficient 5-of-6 shooting performance to lead Kansas to a tough road win over the Wildcats. The Jayhawks have now won 16 straight games.

Starred

1. Devin Thomas, Wake Forest (25 points, 10-of-13 FG, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 assists, 3 steals)

A lot of things had to be working in Wake Forest’s favor to get an upset win over NC State on Tuesday night. One of those variables had to be a dominant performer, and Devin Thomas delivered. He made an impact in nearly every part of the box score, going for an impressive double-double and adding four blocks.

2. Earnest Ross, Missouri (21 points, 10 rebounds)

Without Laurence Bowers and Keion Bell, Missouri needed someone to step up to avoid an upset loss to South Carolina at home. Earnest Ross was that man for Missouri on Tuesday. Something that doesn’t show up in the box score: Ross made a great pass to Jabari Brown with seconds remaining that set him up for the three-pointer that put Missouri ahead for good.

3. D.J. Richardson, Illinois (30 points, 9-of-14 FG, 6-of-9 3pt FG)

Illinois needed a bounce-back win after losing three straight. Richardson was the offensive engine behind the Illini attack Tuesday. His 30 points accounted for 42 percent of Illinois’ scoring in a win over Nebraska.

Struggled 

1. Russ Smith, Louisville (8 points, 2-of-13 FG, 4 TO)

Smith and backcourt mate Peyton Siva both underperformed in Louisville’s upset loss to Villanova, but Smith’s likely hurt more. The Cardinals depend on Smith for just over 19 points per game but did not get that kind of production Tuesday.

2. Will Spradling, Kansas State (0 points, 0-of-5 FG)

Spradling is an offensive piece that Kansas State could have enjoyed against Kansas on Tuesday. He struggled to find his shooting touch, though, going 0-of-5 from the floor.

3. Damien Leonard (2 points, 1-of-11 FG, 3 TOs)

Le0nard struggled to find his stroke against Missouri on Tuesday, including going 0-of-5 from three-point range.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_