NCAA tournament hero Reynolds returns to lead inexperienced 'Nova
VILLANOVA, Pa. -- For the entertainment portion of their Hoops Mania event on Oct. 23, Villanova's players performed a version of
Despite Reynolds' perceived breakdown in dance-leadership, it would take far more than the
"I wouldn't change the actual play," he clarifies. "It was one of those spur-of-the-moment, instinct things, and you don't want to change your instincts."
In that way, Reynolds' signature highlight was quintessentially Villanovan: coach
Who knows what would have happened had Sampson's top two recruits -- Reynolds and current Texas star
That thought crossed Reynolds' mind when Oklahoma came within one win of meeting 'Nova in the Final Four, a scenario he dreaded due to the media "mayhem" it would have created. "That would have been a good team," he says of the hypothetical Sooners. "I wouldn't have
Villanova was the team that needed Reynolds more. Wright says he has "no idea" where his program would be without Reynolds;
Wright's team had beaten Oklahoma in December, a game that Reynolds had watched -- and remembered well enough to give the 'Cats a shot at him while LSU was also coming on strong in the spring. "Getting Scottie was total luck," Wright said. "It took all of 24 hours of recruiting. We had a McDonald's All-American fall into our lap."
Reynolds would go on to lead them in scoring in Big East play as a freshman, take them to the Sweet 16 as a sophomore, and then a Final Four as a junior. His legacy would've been fine without a senior encore, but now that he's back after pulling out of the NBA draft -- where he wasn't a lock to be selected in either round -- there are fans who believe a national title is within reach.
Just how realistic are those hopes? At Tuesday's practice I saw a team that will have to rely on plenty of inexperienced pieces after its excellent backcourt core of Reynolds,
That inexperience showed in a closed scrimmage against George Washington last week, in which the Colonials -- who were picked to finish 13th (out of 14) in the Atlantic-10 preseason poll -- beat the Wildcats in two of three 20-minute periods. Wright said his team was "sloppy" and lacked aggressiveness in its private debut.
I don't expect Villanova to look even like a Big East title team in November and December. But I did see enough positives to think that by NCAA tournament time, they'll be very dangerous once again. Yarou, who came to the U.S. from Benin in 2008, has a surprising amount of polish to his game, and could develop into the best big man Wright's ever had; Wayns looked confident enough to play quality minutes as Fisher's backup at the point; King and Cheek's long-range shooting ability mean Stokes (who shot 41.8 percent last season) is no longer their lone, legit three-point threat on the wing.
And -- most important of all -- the Wildcats have a starting backcourt of all seasoned upperclassmen, something that four of the five teams earning first-place votes in the