Jan. 21, 2005
Villanova could have been a tough team in the Big East this season, but the Wildcats have been this year's heartbreak squad, right there with Michigan in the Big Ten.
Think about it — injuries have really hurt both Villanova and Michigan. The Wildcats have lost junior forward Jason Fraser to a broken right hand that should keep him out close to a month.
Fraser's career has been plagued by injuries after he came out of high school with so much fanfare. Fraser scored a career-high 25 points with 13 rebounds and five blocks in an 83-78 overtime victory at Providence on Jan. 11. In fact, he broke his hand in that game. Fraser and California's Leon Powe had so much potential but have had such tough-luck careers.
Fraser's career has been plagued by injuries after he came out of high school with so much fanfare.
Villanova's hard luck continued with a 67-66 loss at undefeated Boston College on Wednesday night. The game before that, the Wildcats lost 66-64 at home to Georgetown. Villanova is 9-4 overall (2-3 Big East).
Junior forward Curtis Sumpter, Villanova's leading rebounder (8.3) and second-leading scorer (16.1), also has missed time with a sprained right knee. Sumpter returned earlier than expected against Georgetown, but he wasn't 100 percent. His absence was costly in a 78-72 loss at Notre Dame on Jan. 8.
At Michigan, at least coach Tommy Amaker has Daniel Horton back now after the junior point guard missed about a month with a sprained left knee. Horton's presence has been a real plus. But the Wolverines are still missing juniors Graham Brown and Lester Abram.
Villanova did have a good moment recently when a banner in honor of the 1985 national champions, coached by Rollie Massimino, was hung from the rafters as the school celebrated the 20th anniversary of that special moment.
The Wildcats have been very competitive despite being picked in the lower half of the Big East. This team works hard under coach Jay Wright, who deserves better. The injuries to key guys have made the going rough.
Then again, the injuries pale in comparison to the scare the team received on the plane ride back from Providence. The plane was able to land without issue after the traveling party was told to expect a crash landing. I can't imagine what that moment felt like — fortunately, it was a happy landing. Wow, without question, that's about the best news one could get during a season.
Puts things into perspective, doesn't it!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.