Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/11/2006 07:12:00 PM
Your picks? It's feeling like a Pittsburgh kind of night, even if the Panthers get lower billing on the Madison Square Garden marquee.
Update in the postgame ... We had the wrong feeling on Pitt. Guess who just won tournament MVP? The rest of the All-Tourament team: Randy Foye, 'Nova; Aaron Gray, Pitt; Carl Krauser; Pitt; Demetris Nichols, Syracuse; Darryl Watkins, 'Cuse.
Allan Ray's injury could have been devastating to Villanova.
Villanova coach Jay Wright returned to the sparsely populated media room in Madison Square Garden at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday -- approximately 30 minutes after relaying the initial prognosis that guard Allan Ray had suffered a "very serious" eye injury -- and broke the good news: "It looked a lot worse than it was."
The new prognosis is that Ray's condition is only a soft tissue injury to his right eye -- treatable with eye drops -- and that he will be released from St. Vincent's Hospital in New York soon enough to allow him to travel back to Philadelphia with the rest of the Villanova team later in the morning. Ray's playing status for the opening round of the NCAA tournament is day-to-day, according to Wright, who said, "I gotta feel pretty good [about Ray being available]."
When Ray was led off the floor at Madison Square Garden with 19:28 left in the second half of 'Nova's 68-54 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday, he was heard yelling three words: "I can't see." Just minutes before, Ray collapsed in agony after being poked in the eye by the Panthers' Carl Krauser directly in front of the 'Nova bench. Gruesome camera replays of the incident seemed to show Ray's right eyeball partially popping out of his head after it was grazed by Krauser's left hand, and when Ray was walked through the Garden tunnel, a team doctor had a rubber-gloved hand covering the right side of Ray's face. Ray, an All-Big East guard who was averaging 19.4 points and 4.0 rebounds for the Wildcats this season, was put on a stretcher and immediately taken to St. Vincent's.
In the post-game press conference, with Ray's condition still uncertain, teammate Randy Foye said, "Allan is a big part of what we do. If he is out for the season or whatever -- which I doubt -- but if he is, then we have to come together, like we've done before."
By 12:30, the Villanova camp's greatest fears had been assuaged. "This is the best possible scenario," Wright said. "The last time I talked to you, [the doctors] said [Ray] was starting to get his vision back. Now he's got his vision back to the point where they feel confident to release him."
The question for readers: 'Nova lost star forward Curtis Sumpter, whom Wright called the team's "best player," before the season started with a torn ACL. Center Jason Fraser is hobbled into role-player mode after multiple surgeries. Guard Mike Nardi had tonsilitis. Ray had a knee scare -- which turned out to just be a sprain -- against UConn on Feb. 26. And tonight in New York, he emerged from an even more frightening incident. Is all of this too much for one team -- even one that will enter the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed -- to endure and still make a run to the Final Four?