Villanova’s Brunson studied Dirk Nowitzki’s post moves

Villanova guard Jalen Brunson has won two major Player of the Year awards.

Villanova guard Jalen Brunson is an old soul in so many respects. The way he defers to his teammates. The way he studies the game.

The way he uses, as a point guard, post-up moves that would make some NBA centers take notice.

Named as the Player of the Year in college basketball by both the Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers, Brunson will lead the Wildcats into the Final Four Saturday night against the Kansas Jayhawks.

He said Thursday that he developed his post game with help from his father, Rick Brunson, an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves and a former nine-year NBA veteran out of Temple.

But, surprisingly, Brunson said the player he watched and studied most wasn’t a guard.

“I know this is going to sound crazy,” Brunson told The JB Replay. “But I really like how (Dallas Mavericks center) Dirk Nowitzki plays in the post.

“I just love the way he uses his shot. He just finds the ways to use his footwork … for angles to make plays not just for himself, but for others.

“Honestly, I watched a lot of that, and my dad really helped me with that, to be able to use my footwork and to be able to use my mind to read a defense.

“To use my body to see how a defender’s playing. Its a culmination of all that.”

Villanova coach Jay Wright said coaches discovered Brunson’s effectiveness with his back to the basket in a drill “a couple of summers ago.”

“We put Jalen in there and … coaches started looking at each other like, ‘Wow, his post moves are incredible … we’re going with this, we’re using this.

“But then as he’s continued to develop, he loves it. And he loves to work at it, and his footwork is incredible.”

Brunson-led Villanova wins in OT to claim Big East title

Point guard Jalen Brunson scored 31 and forward Mikal Bridges added 25 Saturday night as the Villanova Wildcats beat Providence 76-66 in overtime for the Big East title.

Villanova has been projected as a No. 1 regional seed for the NCAA tournament.

The selection show for the 68-team tournament is set for Sunday at 5 p.m. It will be aired on TBS.

San Antonio is the host city for the Final Four, scheduled March 31 and April 2 at the Alamodome.

Saturday’s scores

(Tournament finals)

Conference USA — Marshall 67, Western Kentucky 66

Big East — Villanova 76, Providence 66, OT

Big 12 — Kansas 81, West Virginia 70

Mountain West — San Diego State 82, New Mexico 75

MAC — Buffalo 76, Toledo 66

America East – Maryland-Baltimore County 65, Vermont 62

MEAC — North Carolina Central 71,, Hampton 63

SWAC — Texas Southern 84, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 69

Conference / NCAA automatic qualifier

Ohio Valley — Murray State (26-5)

Missouri Valley – Loyola-Chicago (28-5)

Big Ten — Michigan (28-7)

Big South — Radford (22-12)

Atlantic Sun — Lipscomb (23-9)

Southern — UNC Greensboro (27-7)

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference — Iona (20-13)

West Coast Conference — Gonzaga (30-4)

Horizon — Wright State (25-9)

Northeast — LIU Brooklyn (18-16)

Colonial Athletic Association — Charleston (26-7)

Summit — South Dakota State (28-6)

Patriot League — Bucknell (25-9)

America East — Maryland-Baltimore County (24-10)

MEAC — North Carolina Central (19-15)

SWAC — Texas Southern (15-19)

Big 12 — Kansas (27-7)

Mountain West — San Diego State (22-10)

Big East — Villanova (30-4)

MAC — Buffalo (26-8)

Conference USA — Marshall (24-10)

Brunson, Bridges spark No. 1 Villanova past Marquette, 85-82

Jalen Brunson scored 31 and Mikal Bridges did the dirty work down the stretch Sunday in No. 1 Villanova’s 85-82 victory over Marquette.

Despite tweaking his ankle and sitting down for treatment in the second half, Brunson finished the game with 10 of 19 shooting.

“I’m fine,” Brunson told a Fox television reporter later. “A little thing. I’m moving forward.”

Villanova was already hurting coming into the Big East game, playing without guard Phil Booth for the first time since he fractured his right hand last week.

The Wildcats met the challenge with balanced scoring from Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo (23 points) and Bridges (16).

Bridges made a critical play in the final minute.

After Brunson missed a three, he grabbed the offensive rebound, and fed DiVincenzo.

DiVincenzo hit a layup for an 85-80 lead with 19 seconds remaining.

Marquette guard Andrew Rowsey hit five three-pointers and scored 29, but back-court mate Markus Howard was held scoreless after intermission.

Howard, who scored 52 in overtime on Jan. 4 at Providence, finished with 13 points on 5 of 18 shooting.


Villanova 20-1, 7-1

Marquette 13-8, 4-5