Philly's Finest

Tim Gorman

Issue date: 2/14/05 Section: Sports
Media Credit: ethan rocke

PHILADELPHIA - At one point during Saturday's Syracuse-Villanova game, Hakim Warrick slammed home a feed from Gerry McNamara and pointed to the nosebleed seats in tribute to his friends who made the trip from nearby Wynnewood, Pa., where Warrick grew up.

"They were probably kind of mad with the tickets they got, but I tried to give them some love by pointing," he said.

Warrick gave them more than love, though. He dropped 32 points, a career high, in SU's 90-75 romp over Villanova at the Wachovia Center in front of 19,966 fans on Saturday. The win was SU's most complete game in weeks.

The Wildcats (14-6, 5-5 Big East) tried using its 2-1-2 full-court trap early to create turnovers in transition. It worked - causing guard Gerry McNamara to throw the ball away on SU's first possession - but only temporarily.

The Orange (22-3, 9-2) proved to be VU's Goliath, taking the lead at 14:10 of the first half and never giving it back.

"We handled their pressure and their trapping," SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. "We got to the basket and we got to Hakim."

The Philadelphia Flyer's domination featured five dunks, three lay-ups and two jumpers within five feet of the basket. He also had his season high in points from the foul line, making 12 of 16 free throws. The mid-range game he developed this off-season was never needed.

"I told myself I was going to let the game come to me," Warrick said. "They did a good job of getting the ball to me so I didn't have to force anything."

The game was Warrick's first time playing in front of a hometown Philadelphia crowd since Feb. 28, 2002. The Orange lost to Villanova then, 67-61.

"Hakim was Hakim," SU forward Terrence Roberts said. "He's gonna get his regardless. This is nothing new. I knew he wanted to come in here and play well against a crowd that was rooting for him."

Warrick said playing in Philadelphia gave him more incentive in Saturday's game. Until his senior year, the Big 5 Philadelphia area schools - Pennsylvania, St. Joseph's, Temple, LaSalle and Villanova - barely recruited him.

"I think I was overlooked," he said. "Senior year was when they started to focus in on me. It was too late."

Warrick, a Wooden Award Candidate, played all 40 minutes against Villanova. It was the 10th time this season he stayed in for the entire game. He now has the most points this season in the Big East with 516. Providence's Ryan Gomes, also a Wooden Award Candidate, is second with 486.
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