“We are trying to mix learning our system along with competing on every possession,” says Villanova head coach Jay Wright.
Wright looks a touch like Mark Cuban: his intentionally loose grip on his guards resembles Cuban’s friendly clutches with Dallas veterans. He allows his guards to create, improvise within the loose-fitting sweater that is their offensive set.
The starting guards are Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding, Corey Stokes, and Corey Fisher. Fans of the Big East might remember another stellar quartet of starting guards at Nova. A half decade ago, Wright ran out Allan Ray, Randy Foye, Mike Nardi, and Kyle Lowry. That squad created havoc for defenses and opposing coaches alike.
The quartet tied for a Big East regular season title and advanced to the Elite 8. Foye and Ray finished in the top ten scorers of Nova history. Lowery would have too had he not left early for the pro game.
Current ‘Cat Reynolds could be the greatest scorer in Villanova history. Is he better than Kerry Kittles? Perhaps. With 59 more points, Reynolds surpasses Kittles as the school’s All-Time scorer. SportingNews and Yahoo just named Reynolds a first team All-American player.
Nova gets a gaudy 28 ppg off the bench, allowing them Cats to pump in over 82 ppg game as a team. They are the third best scoring outfit in the nation and rarely held under 60 points. The first two rounds of the NCAA tournament should be blowouts.
Important things in tournament play are experienced, talented guards. Check. Good, clutch free throw shooting. Check. It helps to have a star that can carry you when the game is on the line. Check.
The Wildcats defend like vultures, nipping at the ballhandler, tearing apart the offensive scheme. The ferocity thinly veils an unfamiliar hunger steals, turnovers, deflections.
Nova’s novelty on defense can certainly befuddle some opponents. Early round foes will be constantly tested and confused. Part of the strength of Nova’s ‘D’ comes from the varied looks they give. There could be a three-quarter court press thrown on. Standard man-to-man will be applied most often but the zany, hyper double teams on the ball spook the dribbler.
The post defense is ok, not good. Despite all the team success, Villanova has not had an All-Conference center since 2001. Dante Cunningham was really an undersized 4 the last four years. Finally there are some pieces that project out to centers in this burly conference.
Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton, both freshman, could become very important contributors in the next few years. Yarou should be a better Arinze Orauku, while the 215-pound Sutton needs about forty pounds just to hold his position on the blocks.
For now, Yarou helps Pena defend the tin.