Jahvon Quinerly has breakout game in Villanova's win over UConn at MSG | Zagsblog
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Sunday / June 16.
  • Jahvon Quinerly has breakout game in Villanova’s win over UConn at MSG

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    NEW YORK — Jahvon Quinerly helped give Jay Wright an early Christmas present on Saturday.

    After riding the bench for much of his freshman season, Quinerly finally got an opportunity to play significant minutes with Collin Gillespie out with a concussion. Ironically, Quinerly’s arm hit Gillespie’s head during practice on Thursday, causing the concussion.

    And under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, the freshman out of Hudson (N.J.) Catholic rewarded his coach. Quinerly played 25 minutes and went for career-highs in points (10), assists (4) and steals (1), helping to guide the Wildcats to an 81-58 beatdown of former Big East rival UConn. He shot 2-of-8 from the field and 1-of-5 from deep.

    “It definitely felt good being back in New York, my family coming and seeing me play,” Quinerly said. “I just focused on my game. It was a big bounceback win for us. We lost at Kansas, so going into the Christmas break it’s a big win for us.”

    Quinerly’s previous career-high in minutes was 18, and his previous career-high in points was 9. He went through four DNPs and five games where he played fewer than 10 minutes.

    Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. native Eric Paschall led Villanova (9-4) with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, while Phil Booth tallied 18 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Joe Cremo added 11 points. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the defending national champs.

    Without Gillespie, Quinerly played 10-plus minutes in the first half, doing some good things and some not so good things. He drew a foul on Alterique Gilbert and made 1-of-2 free throws. He airballed a 3-point attempt. And he made a bad turnover — one of 12 for Villanova in the first half — under the basket.

    “I feel like the airball kind of helped me because I knew I could just keep playing after that,” Quinerly said. “Keep playing for my teammates. I can’t let it affect me at all. I didn’t lose any aggressiveness because this is a big game for us.”

    But in the second half, when Villanova used a 19-0 run to take control, Quinerly continued to build on his game. He made a steal at midcourt and fed a cutting Booth for a layup that pushed Villanova’s lead to 43-36.

    Later he passed up a 3-point look at the top of the arc and dished to Cremo, who drained a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 50-36 Villanova lead.

    Villanova coach Jay Wright credited Quinerly with playing strong defense on the UConn guards. Defense has been a question mark for Quinerly so far.

    “He did a great job on those guards,” Wright said. “On the ball he did a great job, and off the ball he did a great job.”

    It has been quite an up-and-down freshman season for Quinerly. He entered with much fanfare due in part to his JellyFam highlights and social media following.

    But his frustration over lack of playing time boiled over and on Dec. 13, he issued an apology for the Instagram post he issued following a loss to Penn two days earlier.

    In the post, Quinerly wrote, “Was my 2nd choice for a reason.”

    Quinerly initially committed to Arizona but decommitted after former Arizona assistant Book Richardson was arrested for allegedly bribing Quinerly’s family. Richardson, one of four assistants arrested in September 2017, is due to face trial in April.

    The post was later deleted from Quinerly’s Instagram.

    “Even after the Instagram post it was a big mistake on my end,” Quinerly said. “Just keep getting better day by day. Even with what’s going on just keep grinding at it.”

    Quinerly said he didn’t seriously consider transferring despite his frustration.

    “Just being ready,” Quinerly said. “Obviously as a basketblal player you feel like you could do more all the time. There’s a lot of room for improvement all the time. I’m just looking forward to getting better.”

    Wright said he’s proud of how Quinerly came back from his trials and tribulations.

    “I’m so happy for him,” Wright said. “This is what college sports is all about. He came in and struggled with our system early. He got down a little bit early, but was in no way negative with the team and made a little mistake on social media.

    “He learned from it. He learned a great lesson and then he responded. He showed that he’s been working at what we do. It’s so rare. It’s a great example in college sports of a young man learning and growing as a player. I’m really proud of him.”

     

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.