Villanova Basketball Preview: #30
Overall Rank: #30
Conference Rank: #7 Big East
2007-08: 22-13, 9-9, 8th
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Villanova reached the NCAA Tournament last year and even won a couple of games and went to the Sweet Sixteen. And that was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Scottie Reynolds did not let the 2007-2008 campaign turn into a rebuilding campaign and led the squad with 15.9 points and 3.2 assists. Now an upperclassman, Reynolds should be an even stronger leader on the floor and there is no reason for him not to take the Wildcats back to the NCAA Tournament.
And with absolutely everybody back, Reynolds will have all of his familiar faces by his side. And even with everybody back, this is still a relatively young team. Three of the four seniors on the roster could be starting this year, but there is a lot of young talent on Villanova.
Without any departures there is not much room for a recruiting class, although the 2009 group is something to get excited about. The lone newcomer is Maurice Sutton, a 6-11 incoming freshman. Even with his size, Sutton can run the floor and finish around the basket. He probably will not see much action this year, but he can block some shots as a freshman and should develop into a decent contributor before his career at Villanova is over.
Who to Watch:
The talent on the perimeter goes well beyond Reynolds. Corey Fisher had a great freshman campaign, averaging 9.1 points and 2.7 assists. With a year of experience under his belt, Fisher should be a much more consistent player. The other half of the Corey duo, Corey Stokes, did not put up numbers like Fisher as a freshman, but he did emerge late in the year and is a much better shooter than his 29.6 percent three-point shooting percentage would indicate. Fisher, who can also play the point, should be starting beside Reynolds, but the other Corey will also be tough to keep off the floor. On the wing the battle is between Dwayne Anderson and Reggie Redding. Anderson is an alright scorer, but it is his defense, toughness and leadership that will keep him on the floor. Redding is a similar player in the sense that he does things other than score for the team. Like Anderson, Redding is a solid defender and has the size to help out the frontcourt on the glass.
And it is in that frontcourt where the Wildcats start running into some questions. Dante Cunningham is the bright spot of the frontcourt and the only player on the team to start in all 35 games last year. The 6-8 senior tallied 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest last year and forced the opposition to worry about more than just the talented perimeter players on Villanova. But who is going to emerge as Cunningham’s frontcourt mate? Shane Clark has all the skills necessary, but has yet to pull everything together and develop into a dominating player. Casiem Drummond has to stay healthy before he can become a major contributor. Drummond was limited to 21 games during the 2007-2008 season due to an ankle injury and he was not even fully healthy for most of those games. Antonio Pena may have the most potential of the group. The 6-8 sophomore is a solid athlete who can bang under the basket. Last year he ranked fifth on the team with 6.9 points per game and added 4.3 rebounds. At least the frontcourt has some options, so they should be decent. The bigger problem might be the strength of the Big East and the turnovers. Reynolds and Fisher will turn the ball over since this is a fast-paced offense, but if they can keep those numbers down, the Wildcats could have a very special season.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Scottie Reynolds, Junior, Guard, 15.9 points per game
Corey Fisher, Sophomore, Guard, 9.1 points per game
Dwayne Anderson, Senior, Guard, 6.5 points per game
Shane Clark, Senior, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Dante Cunningham, Senior, Forward, 10.4 points per game