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Oliver Purnell on First Round Opponent Villanova

March 19, 2008

“I was very excited when I saw we were a number-five seed, but then I saw the opponent was Villanova. We certainly are facing a very difficult #12 seed in Villanova.

“I have seen Villanova play on television this year and I have been very impressed. They have terrific guard play led by Scottie Reynolds, but they have athletic big people as well. “They will be a difficult team for us to press because they have good guards and good ball handlers at every position. Any time you have an opponent with very good guards it is a concern for us and our press.

“I have followed Scottie Reynolds career for a long time. He is capable of carrying Villanova with his all-around play. He could play on the ball or off the ball against us, but it seems they have improved at the end of the season since he has been playing on the ball. When he is on the ball it is just hard to keep the ball away from him.

“But Villanova is more than just Scottie Reynolds. As I said, I am impressed with their big people. They played very well against Georgetown and Connecticut, who have outstanding big men. They can block shots and will be a challenge for our inside people.

“I am confident in our team. We are playing at a high level. You have to in order to beat Duke and take North Carolina to a close game in the championships. But, my sense is that we can play better. We can improve offensively and defensively.

“One of the keys to this game is defending on the perimeter. If you give Villanova a lot three-point opportunities they are going to beat you. We have defended the three well this year (best in the ACC and on Clemson record pace .299), but we will have a big challenge against Villanova.

“I have known Jay Wright for a long time and he is an excellent coach. We played twice when I was at Dayton and they were great games (decided in last second). He has a team that has been to the NCAA Tournament before. If you look at this game in terms of NCAA Tournament experience they have an advantage. But, we have just played on a very big stage at the ACC Tournament against top competition in an intense environment. That experience should help us.