Search

10 Villanova

Nov. 21, 2005
Nov. 21, 2005

Table of Contents
Nov. 21, 2005

SI Players: Life On and Off The Field
Catching Up With
Air and Space
College Football
Pro Football
Soccer
  • After finishing in the lower third of the regular-season standings, the Galaxy was an unlikely MLS title contender. More improbable still was the hero who would deliver Los Angeles its second Cup in four years

COLLEGE BASKETBALL 2005--06
COLLEGE BASKETBALL 2005 - 06
College Basketball 2005-06
Departments

10 Villanova

A stellar quartet of guards is looking to run taller opponents out of the gym

By Julia Morrill

Anyone who thinks the Wildcats can't win without senior forward Curtis Sumpter, the team's top interior player, should think again. Just ask Florida or North Carolina. Last March, 11 minutes into Villanova's second-round game against the Gators in the NCAA tournament, Sumpter tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and coach Jay Wright had no choice but to go with an unorthodox lineup: He played four guards. The Wildcats had 6'9" junior Jason Fraser under the basket, but after that, their tallest player was 6'4" junior guard Randy Foye. The team gutted out a 76--65 victory.

This is an article from the Nov. 21, 2005 issue Original Layout

Then came the Tar Heels. "It was like a high school football game where the other team has linemen who are 350 pounds and you've got 220-pounders," says Wright. The result? The Wildcats had a 33--29 lead at halftime but lost to the eventual national champions by a point.

So when Sumpter reinjured his left knee last month, most likely ending his season, Villanova was in familiar territory. Without him, the Wildcats will again look for leadership from the gritty Foye--"My alltime favorite player," says Wright. Foye developed his toughness growing up in a rough section of Newark, where he was raised by his grandmother. "I had no other role models in my life," he says, "but I started at the bottom and kept moving up."

He was the team's second-leading scorer last season, with 15.5 points a game, and pulled down 5.0 boards a game. Rejoining him on the Wildcats' crowded perimeter will be top scorer Allan Ray (16.2 points per game), point guard Mike Nardi (8.2) and Kyle Lowry (7.5). Wright admits he's taking a gamble by starting four guards. "I'm concerned it will wear them down over the year," he says, "and if you're getting beat up on the boards, it's not fun."

At the same time, Wright can spread out his offense and up the tempo. "We have four guys who can shoot threes, score off the dribble, screen for each other and create mismatches," he says. "When you play with bigger guys, you don't get mismatches."

If Villanova can capitalize on its strengths, expect another deep run in the NCAA tournament. Foye, not surprisingly, is ready. "We still have a fire lit under us," he says. "That's the good thing about this team. We're still hungry." --J.M.

PIPELINE

NEW YORK CITY AND LONG ISLAND

Jay Wright, formerly coach at Hofstra, maintained his old recruiting ties in the area and brought back Jason Fraser, Allan Ray and Curtis Sumpter; he already has a commitment from Antonio Peña.

FAST FACTS

Coach: Jay Wright 2004--05 record: 24--8 (11--5, T3 in Big East)

2005 tournament: Lost in Sweet 16 to North Carolina

STARTING LINEUP

View this article in the original magazine

6'8"Jr.5.1 ppg5.8 rpg

 

ENEMY LINES an opposing coach's view

Losing Sumpter is devastating. To me, he was the toughest guy to guard in the Big East.... I'm not sure there is a better bunch of guards in the country. Ray is the best shooter, but Foye is the most well-rounded--he doesn't have a weakness, and he can play a lot of positions.... Fraser may be the best outlet passer I've ever seen, but he can't score. All his points will come on the blocks or at the free throw line.

PHOTOBOB ROSATONO SMALL TASK The 6'4" Foye, Villanova's emotional leader and Coach Wright's alltime favorite player, will have to play big this year.