|03.29.09 at 6:33 pm ET|
On Sunday Leon Powe made his first appearance at a Boston Celtics game since spraining his knee against the Chicago Bulls on March 17. Powe was scheduled to undergo further testing by team doctors, but spoke to the media beforehand.
‘It’s sore every once and a while but it feels good,’ he said. ‘It’s feeling better than it did when I hurt it. I was able to run straight it that game but then when it got stiffened up, it stiffened up on me in the back and I couldn’t even move it.’
Powe suffered the injury when he banged knees with Ben Gordon. A sprain is nothing compared to the extensive knee injuries he has endured in the past. He hopes to return a few games before or during the playoffs.
‘I’ve been through a lot of knee problems a whole lot worse,’ he said. ‘Just a few weeks, three-and-a-half weeks, that isn’t anything to me. But I would like to get back into action a little bit before the playoffs. But however I feel, that’s where I’m going to go from there.’
As for Sunday’s game, Powe will watch the Celtics take on the Oklahoma City Thunder from the locker room.
‘I’m not going to be on the bench,’ he said. ‘I didn’t wear a sports coat today. I don’t want to get fined, especially when I’m sitting out.’
Update: Following the game, Powe gave a thumbs up when asked about his meeting with team doctors.
|03.29.09 at 12:26 am ET|
BOSTON – Covering Saturday night’s East Regional final was the single toughest assignment of my professional career.
It’s one thing to grow up following a team and surrender those feelings once you turn professional reporter.
It’s another to cover the school you poured your heart and soul into for four years while watching one of the greatest sporting upsets in modern sports history as a freshman in person. Yes, I’m referring to Villanova over Georgetown on April 1, 1985 at Rupp Arena.
So it was Saturday night. I blogged away as Pittsburgh battled my alma mater, Villanova in a game where classic doesn’t seem to do it justice.
I got text messages from my peeps in my native Cincinnati, my peeps in New York, my peeps here in Boston, all of whom were pulling for me during a nerve-wracking second half. Thanks to you all for your concern for my mental health as I was typing furiously away across from the Pittsburgh bench. But I was also in front of the Villanova fan section. It was deafening all night.
I maintained professional composure until the last teardrop by Scottie Reynolds. And beyond. No cheering, no smiling, honest. At least on the outside. On the inside, I was a mess. I’ll admit that I clenched my fist when the ball went through the hoop but as soon as it did, I unclenched and got busy typing This Just In on WEEI.com.
As NovaNation was going bonkers right behind me, all I could think of was the man sitting five seats to my right and one row back. Rollie Massimino had seen this all before. He smiled like the proud daddy he is. After all, when this reporter attended Villanova between 1985-88 Rollie was simply known as Daddy Mass, something Jay Wright referenced all weekend long.
Then I got to work again covering postgame. I’m glad I was at TD Banknorth Garden for the greatest game ever played in the building.
|03.29.09 at 12:11 am ET|
With about 10 minutes remaining in the second half, during a timeout on the court, the video board at TD Banknorth Garden played a replay of Christian Laettner beating the UConn Huskies at the buzzer in the 1990 East Regional Final at the Meadowlands.
Talk about foreshadowing.
In what many observers were calling one of the five greatest college games of all time, Scottie Reynolds channeled another buzzer beater (Tyus Edney from 1995) to stun the Pittsburgh Panthers and send Villanova to the Final Four for the fourth time in school history and the first time since winning it all in 1985.
Reynolds took a pass from Dante Cunningham and drove some 65 feet winding and weaving his way through the Pittsburgh defense which was scrambling to get in position. They never could and when Reynolds raced past DeJuan Blair and then nudged into Gilbert Brown and float a runner over his head and into the basket with 0.5 seconds remaining, Villanova had a 78-76 lead.
But it wasn’t until Levance Fields’ desperation heave from 75 feet was off the mark that NovaNation could go into a Beantown frenzy. And they did. Villanova coach Jay Wright came over to hug Rollie Massimino and there were ‘I love yous’ and ‘I am so proud of yous’ all around as 2009 met 1985.
“It’s kind of eerie how this is playing out,” Wright said. “I hope to God history repeats itself (laughter), because I remember — my wife is here, my wife and I were down there as fans. I worked Rollie Massimino’s camp, I was there like a hanger on. I was part of the family. The thing with Rollie was if you worked his camp you might as well have been the top assistant, everybody was in the family. And my wife was a cheerleader there, she had just graduated.”
If Carolina beats Oklahoma on Sunday, then it will be Carolina and Nova in the Final Four, one round later than when the Cats beat the Heels in ’85 on their way to the title.
“And it’s — that was kind of the greatest year in the Big East history, and we’ve had discussions whether that year was better than this year, it’s a whole another topic. But that was similar. Villanova was a great team, but St. John’s and Syracuse and Georgetown were the teams that year. Villanova kind of sneaks in. And then it’s all happening the same. I’m not a superstitious person or anything, I don’t care. I’m worried about the next game. But if history repeats itself, I’ll take it (laughter).”
There were so many moments to remember. Almost too many to digest.
Down four and with Pittsburgh bringing the ball up, Dwayne Anderson stole the ball at midcourt and went into for a layup with 2:45 remaining. Reynolds may have had the play of the game but Anderson’s steal and layup was the turning point of the final three minutes.
Corey Fisher hit a layup to give Villanova the lead. Then, down one again, Anderson hit a three for Villanova, 71-69. Then two free throws by Fisher, 73-69 with 46 seconds left. Then, with Villanova up, 76-72, with 20 seconds remaining, Blair hits a layup. Then Reggie Redding heaves a ball the length of the court and the turnover leads to Levance Fields getting fouled.
Two free throws by Fields and 76-76. And then Scottie Reynolds turned into Tyus Edney. And Villanova is off to Detroit.
|03.28.09 at 9:00 pm ET|
When Shane Clark picked up his fourth foul with 7:38 minutes remaining in the second half, Villanova had their two primary defenders of DeJuan Blair on the bench with four fouls, with Dante Cunningham being the other.
The Villanova season could very well come down to how well reserve Antonio Pena plays Blair.
|03.28.09 at 8:40 pm ET|
Jermaine Dixon was taken to the locker room within the first minute of the second half as two Villanova players came down on his legs scrambling for a loose ball. Dixon lay on the floor for a couple of minutes as was treated by Pittsburgh training staff. He returned to the bench with 15 minutes remaining but did not re-enter the game.
Levance Fields hit an early three in the first two minutes of the second half.
It’s been a busy night for legendary college hoops writer Dick ‘Hoops’ Weiss. In the first half, he was bowled over by a Pittsburgh player who spill his drink. Then Sam Young early in the second half ran into press row and guess who had a first-hand look? Young split Weiss and New York Post scribe Lenn Robbins.
That play caused Weiss to move to the second row and led to the most spectacular play of the game. The ball was saved in bounds and wound up at Villanova’s end. Corey Fisher collected it on the ground and fed Scottie Reynolds. Reynolds pump-faked and made a reverse lay-up high off the glass.
Dante Cunningham picked up his third foul with 14:10 remaining in the second half.
The two teams are trading blows in what is turning into a classic Big East backyard brawl.
|03.28.09 at 8:06 pm ET|
After trailing for most of the first half, two free throws by Sam Young with 2.6 seconds remaining gave Pittsburgh a two-point lead at halftime in the East Regional final.
The play that led to the two free throws was symbolic of the topsy-turvy play between the two Big East powers.
Sam Young pump-faked Nova’s Dwayne Anderson into the air and then slipped underneath him, causing Anderson to do a spectacular, if not dangerous flip onto the hardwood. Anderson got up none the worse for wear.
Pittsburgh ended the first half on a 26-14 run to take the lead at the break.
Villanova is shooting 34 percent (11-for-32) while Pittsburgh has warmed up to 42 percent at 10-for-24.
Both teams have players with foul issues. Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair picked up an ill-advised second foul when he came out to screen Scottie Reynolds with under two minutes remaining. Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark both have two fouls for Villanova.
|03.28.09 at 7:51 pm ET|
As was the case with Xavier, Pittsburgh fell behind early, trailing 18-8. Villanova found its range from three-point territory as Shane Clark hit a pair of consecutive shots from beyond the arc.
But Pittsburgh went on a 12-4 run, capped off by a steal by big man DeJuan Blair near mid-court and a ramble to the basket. He made the layup and then a free throw, to close the Nova lead to, 22-20.
The key moment of the game so far occured when Nova’s Dante Cunningham picked up his second foul with seven minutes remaining in the first half, leaving them without someone to guard Blair.
Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds is playing with a dark wrap on his right wrist and he was shaking it as he drove to the basket for a layup late in the first half and landed on it.
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