Are the Wildcats a repeat of their last season counterpart? That is the question that will be asked over the next couple of weeks as they enter Big East Conference play. Up next are the Bearcats hungry for their third conference victory of the season, a victory that would give them one more than just a season ago.
Jay Wright knows his system of three guards can be successful. He's proven it since taking over the program and last year watched his charges go 22-11. But while many would be happy with those numbers, the Wildcats dropped seven of those eleven losses in conference play and fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Kentucky.
This season Wright has his team looking to repeat those totals as they enter Fifth Third Arena with an 11-2 record with losses to North Carolina State and DePaul.
Despite the loss of three key players from last year's squad, Wright has his young team playing well with Pre-Season All-Big East performer Scottie Reynolds leading the way. Only a sophomore, Reynolds is the player the Bearcats must slow to have a chance to pick up the victory. Capable of hitting from three or driving to the hoop, Reynolds lacks the ability to act as a true point guard but has the tools to place points on the scoreboard and keep the Wildcats ready to pounce to another victory. Posting numbers just ahead of those from his freshman season, Reynolds must be forced to handle the ball and keep off balance when he takes his shot.
But Reynolds is not alone as freshman guard Corey Fisher is right behind him averaging 12.3-pts a contest. Bringing up the rear of this three-guard offense is Reggie Redding who brings the willingness to play defense and take what is given him offensively.
Without a senior on their roster, the Wildcats have the makings of a team ready to make a run this year and for a few years to come. Joining the active guards are junior forwards Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham who both hit in double figures and do a nice job on the boards. Both players understand the amounts of effort they give on the defensive side are key to the team's overall success.
VILLANOVA PROBABLE STARTERS
CLASS - HT
SO – 6-5
JR – 6-7
JR – 6-8
FR – 6-1
SO – 6-2
KEYS OFF THE BENCH
FR – 6-0 – 8.4 PPG
R-FR – 6-8 – 6.0 PPG
The Wildcats also look to Malcolm Grant and Antonio Pena for help off the bench. Both players have played key roles during their team's early success.
This Villanova squad should be set to provide the much needed firepower to find success in conference play. But with the loss of three solid veterans gone from last season's team they know their youth could get in the way.
Are the Wildcats on pace for another 20+ win season? Or are they the same team as a year ago that went 22-11 with seven losses in conference?