Overall Rank: #36
Conference Rank: #7 Big East
2006-07: 22-11, 9-7, 7th (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
All of a sudden sophomore Scottie Reynolds is the experienced option in the backcourt at Villanova. Reynolds had a terrific freshman campaign, averaging 14.8 points and 4.0 assists. Reynolds should be even more effective this year with a true point guard headed into the program, which will free him up to do even more scoring. Dwayne Anderson and Reggie Redding return to the perimeter after spending last year as roleplayers. They should see more playing time this year, but they will have to fight with some newcomers for those minutes.
The biggest loss is Curtis Sumpter who led the team with 17.4 points and 7.2 rebounds. The forward could bang inside or step outside and hit the three ball. Will Sheridan was never a prolific scorer, but he was a solid rebounder and did the dirty work under the basket. Losing two starters up front never sounds good, but Villanova has plenty of experienced and talented players ready to step up. On the perimeter, Mike Nardi, Ross Condon and Bilal Benn have wrapped up their careers at Villanova. Nardi, who averaged 11.8 points and 3.8 assists during his senior campaign, is the most notable of the trio. Without Nardi’s leadership in the backcourt, it may take some time for Coach Jay Wright to find consistent production out of his perimeter group.
Villanova will replace the leadership of Nardi with the raw talent of incoming freshmen Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Malcom Grant. Fisher and Stokes will probably be starting together in the backcourt with Reynolds from day one. This version of Corey and Corey will remind fans of the Nova teams of a few years ago when the backcourt had a superb scoring trio. Fisher is the point guard, although he can easily be a two guard as well, albeit undersized. He can create for himself and his teammates, but his youth and tendency to force the issue may cause some turnover problems this year. Stokes is a great athlete and a superb outside shooter. He has the strength and quickness to be effective getting to the basket. Grant often gets left out of the conversation, but he is a highly touted point guard. It just may be a little while before he finds some minutes. Guard Jason Colenda is joining the program as well and will provide emergency depth. The frontcourt receives a couple redshirt freshmen. Antonio Pena suffered a knee injury before last season and is expected to be a contributing big man this year. He is an effective scorer under the basket and is not afraid to battle with anybody. Andrew Ott is a decent offensive player inside and out. With the year on the sidelines, Ott has gained some much needed strength, but it may be difficult for him to find his role on this year’s team.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt has the experience led by Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark. Cunningham is not your typical low post scorer, since he possesses enough quickness to play on the perimeter, but he did develop into a solid interior scorer last season. After averaging 8.7 points and 5.4 rebounds, Cunningham will be the main interior scoring threat for the Wildcats. Clark is a superb slasher and athlete. Ideally he is a wing, but playing him at the four spot is not a big deal for a team that two years ago ran a four guard offense. At least with Clark, Villanova will have an effective rebounder at the position. Casiem Drummond and Frank Tchuisi will provide depth and versatility to the frontcourt.
This is a young, young team. There is not a senior on the roster. If the youth does not play like youth, the Wildcats will be extremely dangerous by March. But they have to make it into March first. The pure level of talent should be enough to get the team into the tournament and their quickness can cause a lot of trouble.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Corey Fisher, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Scottie Reynolds, Sophomore, Guard, 14.8 points per game
Corey Stokes, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Shane Clark, Junior, Forward, 7.4 points per game
Dante Cunningham, Junior, Forward, 8.7 points per game