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Guest Spot; The Nova Blog

Given the elation over the Xavier win I haven't had the time to compile a proper preview for tomorrow's big game at Villanova. Luckily Chris Lane from the Nova Blog contacted me about doing a little Q & A. That Q&A will serve as a preview for tomorrows game. So without further adieu its Question and Answer time.

1: I will be the first to admit that I haven't watched a ton of Villanova this year but the offensive dynamic seems very different from past years. To my untrained eye it seems like a lot more of the offense is taking place inside the 3 point line than out compared to the last couple of years where everything was beyond the line. Whats you take on it?

We've always been a 1-4 offense where one guard is going to try and make something happen by driving to the hoop and either finishing, finding somebody inside, or kicking it back out for an open jumper. I think the absence of a lot of lethal shooters (only Corey Stokes fits that mold this year) has given many people the impression that we're doing something different.

Then again, we do finally have 2 capable big men, and 2 guards who can take anybody off the dribble. So I guess it is different in the results of it.

2: What has happened to Corey Stokes? I was thinking this would be Corey Fishers team this year but every time I see Nova Stokes catches my attention first. He scarcely resembles last years player to me.

You share a similar opinion to everyone who follows 'Nova. We were expecting great defense (which we've gotten) and an ever-so-slight bump in scoring. Instead we've gotten a huge increase in scoring production and a true senior leader that looks capable of putting the team on his back when we're up against it.

He's having a similar senior year to Dante Cunningham. Not predicting the Final 4, but he's exactly the presence that last year's team lacked - a presence on both ends of the floor.

3: The Wildcats have been a much better team this year defending the three point line than last year. Whats your feeling for a root of that change.

At the root of it - everyone is a year older. We were big risk-takers last year. That helped us at times (the 20-point comeback at Louisville) and killed us in others (pretty much every game in the late season collapse). The talent has always been there to defend, but this year guys are trusting their ability to shut down the guy in front of them instead of gambling for a steal which immediately leads to easy buckets for the other team if you don't get it.

Having 2 plus defenders down low also gives guys confidence to press up a little higher and not feel the need to constantly sag down and play help D. 

4: Is the Pavilion really as cool a place to watch a game in person as it is in my head. It isn't the Palestra but it has always seemed to be one of those sneaky low key great gyms like the RAC at Rutgers of the soon to be defunct Mac court out at Oregon

I could go on and on about this topic. Frankly, I hate the place. It needs to be leveled or at the very least go through a major facelift. The season ticket holders, or the wine and cheese crowd as the diehards know them, sit in the seats closest to the court, don't stand up, make zero noise, and yell at anyone for standing and cheering.

The student section is always full, loud, and pretty impressive, but it's only behind one hoop. The best Villanova game I ever saw there was my freshman year (Top-5 matchup with Oklahoma) and the place was BONKERS. Best atmosphere ever. But typically, it's just not that great. The Palestra is much cooler in my opinion. If I could, I'd have every game in downtown Philly because we sell that out (22K vs. 6K) and all the alumni who still care can get in and make noise.

5: Can you tell me what it is like to have a team that shoots free throws well? Because watching a UC player other than Rashad Bishop step to the line brings nothing but trepidation to me.

Do we shoot them that well? I know Corey Stokes is something like 93% on the year and everyone else is respectable (above 70% I believe) but I feel like we do miss a lot.

As to your question though, we're typically a good FT shooting team so I take it for granted and can be a snob about it I guess. It definitely helps down the stretch in games and is a major reason why we made the Final 4 a few years ago. I don't want to ever have to think about a 'Nova guy going to the line needing 2 and knowing it's not going to happen. I don't think we have a guy on our team that makes me feel that way.

6: Prediction time

I have no idea what to expect. I just don't know enough about Cincinnati. If this game was on the road it'd be a major red flag for me. Luckily the students are back from break and we should have some semblance of a home-court advantage. I'll say Villanova 76-68, but this one makes me nervous and it wouldn't surprise me to see this go down to the final possession.