Malcolm Grant had six double-figure games in the first 17 games of his Villanova career, including a career-high 23 points in a loss at Rutgers.

Soon after, as the Wildcats found themselves in the midst of a five-game losing streak, Grant fell out of favor. After that Rutgers game, he played 10, 8 and 13 minutes, and then just 1 minute over the last four games of the losing streak.

Yesterday, in a statement that surprised nobody, Villanova announced that Grant, a freshman guard, is going to transfer.

"Malcolm is an integral part of our basketball family and a great young man," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in the statement. "He has been exemplary as a student and a teammate at Villanova. However, he deserves starter's minutes. We are grateful for all that Malcolm has given to Villanova and support him in this decision."

Grant, from Brooklyn, was huge in Villanova's amazing comeback win against LSU on Dec. 6 at the Wachovia Center. The Wildcats trailed by 15 points with 3 minutes left. Grant scored 14 points in the next 2 minutes. He also had 22 in the Wildcats' 64-63 win over Pittsburgh.

But, with his team floundering and not playing much perimeter defense, Wright decided to make some changes during the losing streak. Grant's minutes declined dramatically.

After that five-game streak ended, Grant had six DNPs, limited minutes in other games and did not score in 14 of the team's final 18 games. By the end of the season, Villanova had established a guard rotation, and Grant was not in it. With everybody back next season, minutes simply were not going to be there. So Grant asked for and was granted his release.

Gunning interviewed

Villanova associate head coach Brett Gunning interviewed for the vacant Marist head coaching position yersterday in San Antonio. "I think it went really well," he said. "We'll see where it goes."

The Marist position became open when Matt Brady left to become head coach at James Madison.

Calathes, Tyndale to Portsmouth

Saint Joseph's senior forward Pat Calathes and Temple senior guard Mark Tyndale are among 64 seniors invited to play in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational April 9-12. Portsmouth used to be a pretty big predraft deal, but it has been less so in recent years. Still, a few players who perform well normally get a prominent spot on NBA radar screens as a prelude to the more prestigious predraft camp in Orlando, Fla.

It's Christmas

It's official, finally.

Temple's Dionte Christmas is the Atlantic 10 scoring champ for the second straight year. His 19.7-point average edged out Massachusetts' Gary Forbes, who finished at 19.4 after the Minutemen's five-game NIT run.

Christmas is the first back-to-back A-10 scoring champ since Rutgers' John Battle in 1984-85. *