For the first time in what seems like a decade, Scottie Reynolds will NOT be returning to play basketball for the Villanova Wildcats this season; therefore, in many ways, this marks the beginning of a new era for Jay Wright’s team. Reynolds has been the face of the program for the past four years, and it is unknown who will step up to fill his shoes. (Hopefully it's someone with the same foot size.) Nevertheless, Nova is returning a strong a team this season, so let’s begin by taking a look at the presumed leaders of the team, the class of 2011.
2009-10 Stats: 10.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 57.7 FG%, 69.6 FT%, 24.9 minutes per game
2009-10 Season Highs: 19 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists
Pena takes the term “senior” to a whole new level. He’s the same age as me, and I’ve been out of school for three years now. ‘Tone spent two years in prep school then redshirted his first year at Nova, which accounts for why he’s still around at the ripe old age of 24. Pena was a bit inconsistent last season, at times looking like a double-double machine, then completely disappearing in other games. He should have a huge advantage this year, especially in the strength department, playing against kids six years younger than him. Let’s just hope he’s able to stay awake for the late 9 p.m. games.
2009-2010 Stats: 13.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 44.7 FG%, 39.6 3P%, 77.0 FT%, 27.0 minutes per game
2009-10 Season Highs: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists
Fisher is the odds-on favorite to replace Scottie Reynolds as the leader of this year’s team. He’s spent the past three years playing in Reynolds’ shadow, deferring to the his heralded backcourt-mate, yet never complaining about his role. I was already excited to see what Fisher could do when he was set free and handed the keys to the offense… then I heard about the 105 points he scored in a summer league game, and now I’m ecstatic. I think we are going to see Fisher Price do some special things this season, maybe not score triple digits again, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of Scottie Reynolds signature 40-point specials.
2009-10 Stats: 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks, 41.6 FG%, 38.3 3P%, 87.3 FT%, 26.0 minutes per game
2009-10 Season Highs: 22 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
The “other” Corey has settled in nicely to his role of a 3-point sharpshooting specialist who plays defense and rebounds. Don’t expect him to handle to the ball or drive to the basket with grace, but he will play hard and drain threes from just about anywhere on the court. With the losses of Reynolds and Taylor King, Stokes is the only reliable 3-point threat Nova has left, unless you count 50% 3-point shooter Isaiah Armwood. (He was 1-for-2.)
The ceiling of this year’s team really depends on these next five players. There are three seniors on the team, and for the most part you know what you’re going to get from them. However, there are zero juniors on the team (aside from walk-ons), so one or more of these second year players will need to take a big leap in production this season for the Wildcats to have success.
2009-10 Stats: 2.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals, 47.2 FG%, 50.0 3P%, 60.0 FT%, 11.0 minutes per game
2009-10 Season Highs: 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
Last season Armwood proved he has the athleticism to play at this level, Jay Wright learned that firsthand as Hoops Mania, but he still needs to improve his overall game. His biggest problem is that his arms look like their made out of wood, so he will have to get stronger if Jay Wright wants to play him at power forward in the Big East this season.
2009-10 Stats: 4.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 45.3 FG%, 31.0 3P%, 65.4 FT%, 13.5 minutes per game
2009-10 Season Highs: 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
Cheek arrived on campus with a lot of hype as a McDonald’s All-American, but his playing time was limited last season. He has a polished game on both ends of the floor and should be ready to take on a bigger role this season. Cheek’s best game last season came in a return to his native New Jersey when he scored 17 points in a win over Rutgers. Wait, I forgot to throw in a joke. Hmm… Okay. What has two cheeks and smells like shit? … Hey, get your mind out of the gutter! It’s Dominic Cheek’s mouth after a game when he forgot to brush his teeth.
2009-10 Stats: 1.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.2 steals, 1.0 blocks, 41.5 FG%, 54.5 FT%, 10.3 minutes per game
2009-10 Season Highs: 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists
Mo is probably the best shot-blocker the team has had since Jason Fraser. He had a season-high five swats against La Salle and four against Robert Morris in the NCAA Tournament. He’s not the best rebounder for his size (6’11) and his offensive game is almost nonexistent, but he can still improve in those areas. Like Armwood, Sutton needs to get on the Jersey Shore routine of GTL to bulk up, although they could probably skip the tanning part.
2009-10 Stats: 6.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.6 steals, 43.4 FG%, 31.5 3P%, 81.4 FT%, 15.0 minutes per game
2009-10 Season Highs: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
The “Next Great Philly Point Guard”, Wayns, had his ups and downs last season, en route to making the Big East All-Rookie Team. He was an offensive spark off the bench in some games, scoring in double figures nine times, but in another nine games, he was held to under 11 minutes of playing time. With Reynolds’ departure, we will see a lot more of Wayns’ World this season, which is most excellent. Party on, Wayns!
2009-10 Stats: 4.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.2 steals, 1.0 blocks, 58.3 FG%, 70.6 FT%, 15.0 minutes per game
2009-10 Season Highs: 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists
Mouph could be the biggest x-factor for this year’s team, but unfortunately he is probably also the biggest question mark. The grade for his freshmen year was an incomplete. He missed eleven games towards the beginning of the year due to hepatitis B, then he had to learn on the fly as he played himself back into game shape later in the year. Not to mention, he’s only been playing the sport of basketball for about six years. If you’re wondering why Nova fans are still drooling over Mouph’s potential, look no further than the stat line from his game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament versus Robert Morris: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 5-6 FG, 7-7 FT. Me: Please God, keep Mouphtaou Yarou healthy for the next three years. God: Which Mouphtaou Yarou? Me: Really?
Bell is a super-athletic 6’5 guard from Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, he won’t be bringing any magic to this kingdom for quite some time as he recovers from surgery to repair stress fractures in his legs. It is unknown if he will be able to play at all this season.
Pinkston is a 6’7 forward from Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn, the same high school Curtis Sumpter attended. Last year’s New York Player of the Year is pretty much a Sumpter clone: same size, good rebounder, can score inside and also step back to make threes. Hopefully the Sumpter similarities end there and don’t include his injury history. With Pena, Pinkston, and the emergence of Armwood and Yarou, Villanova might actually have a deep and talented front court for the first time during Jay Wright’s tenure... unless I just jinxed it... Dagnabbit!
Woot is staying at Villanova as a graduate student this year, but he won’t be letting that stop him from using up his NCAA eligibility and suiting up for Jay Wright (not that kind of suit) another year. He seems to have his collegiate priorities straight: 1) Basketball, 2) Girls, 3) Academics.
The newest walk-on hasn’t even played in a game yet, and he’s already gotten more press on ESPN than Jason Colenda did over four years at Nova.