Reynolds battled hand and knee injures but remained 'Nova's leading scorer.
Nov. 14 Albany Nov. 17 Fordham Nov. 19 Niagara* Nov. 25 Monmouth* Nov. 28-29 Towson* Dec. 2 at Penn Dec. 4 Houston Baptist Dec. 9 Texas (in New York)** Dec. 11 Saint Joseph's Dec. 14 at La Salle Dec. 22 Navy Dec. 29 Temple * Philly Hoop Group Classic (also Penn State, Rhode Island, NJIT, Hartford)
Two of the nation's best backcourts face off in a city known for great guard play as the Longhorns' A.J. Abrams and Justin Mason duel with Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher at Madison Square Garden.
Coach: Jay Wright (8th year) 2007-08 record: 22-13 Big East record: 9-9 (8th) NCAA tournament: Sweet 16
The Wildcats are putting their faith in a pious point guard to deliver again
Every Sunday that the Wildcats are at home, guard Scottie Reynolds attends10:30 a.m. services at the Church of Christ in nearby King of Prussia,Pa. -- even on game days. Last Jan. 6, for example, he rushed back from churchand arrived at The Pavilion just 40 minutes before the tip-off of 'Nova's BigEast home opener against Pitt. Reynolds struggled to find his shot that day,scoring just four points, but he did find forward Dante Cunningham inside with apass that led to the winning free throws and helped the Wildcats pull out a64-63 win. "Scottie's calm, quiet faith always shows through in toughsituations," says coach Jay Wright.
Reynolds, a McDonald's All-American from Huntsville, Ala., made an immediateimpact when he arrived two seasons ago. Surrounded by three seniors andCunningham, he averaged a team-high 18.4 points per game in Big East playon his way to being named the league's Rookie of the Year. After he moved topoint guard with a younger cast last season, Villanova got off to a 13-3 start.But nagging hand and knee injuries slowed him, and the Wildcats lost fivestraight, bottoming out with a 22-point loss to Big Five rival St. Joseph'son Feb. 4. The slump forced Reynolds to modify his game -- and his leadershipstyle. Soft-spoken by nature, he became a lot more vocal. "I knew I had to leadby example and set a new tone," says Reynolds.
The Wildcats finished 6-3 and clawed their way into the NCAA tournament as aNo. 12 seed, then surprised the field by making it to the Sweet 16.Wright points to an 84-72 win over Siena in the second round -- when Reynoldsbedeviled the Saints with 25 points, five assists and eight rebounds -- as evidenceof his star's evolution. "When Scottie's contributing in all facets, that's whenwe run at full throttle," he says. "He's got to do everything for us."
Sophomore guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes join Reynolds in the Wildcats'Lilliputian offense, which has been dubbed Guard U in recent years asWright has often gone with an up-tempo four-guard, one-forward lineup.
The 6' 8" Cunningham, 'Nova's best big man, will again be called uponfor an outsized contribution. Usually matched up against centers, he led theWildcats in rebounding with 6.5 per game, almost half of which came off theoffensive glass. He'll have help from promising sophomore Antonio Peña andsenior Dwayne Anderson, though at 6' 8" and 6' 6", respectively,neither gives 'Nova an especially imposing look.
Reynolds, though, is keeping faith in his frontcourt. "The whole Guard Uidea is an outsiders-looking-in thing," he says. "Guards alone can't take [us]everywhere." -- Kevin Armstrong
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