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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 19th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Villanova Wildcats

Overall Rank: #24

Conference Rank: #7 Big East

 

2005-06: 28-5, 14-2, 1st (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

Gone are the fun days of the four guard lineup at Villanova.  And that should address some of the key problems the Wildcats faced last season, most notably ranking 155th in the nation in rebounding margin.  With some big guys earning significant minutes as freshmen and Curtis Sumpter returning from injury, moving from one forward to three should be a relatively smooth process.

 

Who’s Out: Only a quarter of that four guard offense returns and the absence of Randy Foye, Allan Ray and Kyle Lowry will leave The Pavilion looking a little different this year.  Foye and Ray were dangerous long range shooters and averaged 20.5 and 18.5 points, respectively.  Lowry, who left early for the NBA, added on 11.0 points and a team high 3.7 assists.  The frontcourt has lost roleplayers Jason Fraser and Chris Charles.

 

Who’s In: The return of Sumpter from a tear of his cruciate ligament in his left knee will keep the Wildcats in the thick of the race for the Big East championship.  Despite battling the same injury in 2004-2005, Sumpter averaged 15.3 points and earned second team all-conference accolades.  As far as incoming freshmen go, the backcourt needs some depth and it probably found a starter in Scottie Reynolds.  Reynolds is a little undersized to play the two, but who cares if a 6-0 guy plays the two guard when last year a 6-3 guy played at the four spot?  Reynolds is one of the best shooters in the class and has proven that he can always get the job done.  Reggie Redding is a smart guard who will work off the ball to find open shots.  Redding can hit the long ball and is expected to come off the bench and contribute as a freshman.  Antonio Pena, Andrew Ott and Casiem Drummond will beef up the front court.  Pena has the best shot at making an impact right away.  The 6-6, 215 pound bruiser will battle inside and can step out and hit the mid-range jumper.  He’s a solid rebounder and an able defender.  Ott needs to add some strength, but the 6-9 forward has the natural skills to contribute eventually.  Ott can spread the opposition’s defense by hitting the long ball consistently and should develop into a good rebounder once the strength issues are taken care of.  Drummond is full of potential.  His 6-10, 290 pound frame raises questions about his endurance and athleticism and those issues will have to be addressed before the West Orange, New Jersey native will see major minutes at Villanova.

 

Who to Watch: It’s not like there wasn’t any talent in the frontcourt last year…it’s just that the backcourt had too much talent to leave any of them on the bench.  Will Sheridan started 32 games last year and many times was the lone forward.  The 6-8, 238 pounder averaged 5.5 points and a team high 6.3 boards and will step back into a starting role.  However, this time he won’t be alone up front.  Dante Cunningham earned four starts as a freshman and, along with Sumpter and Sheridan, could be the third starting forward.  Cunningham is a great athlete and will use his ups to get plenty of rebounds.  Shane Clark missed part of his freshman campaign, but still averaged 2.2 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per contest.  The 6-7 wing forward will once again provide depth off the bench.

 

Final Projection: If you can name three out of the four starting guards for Villanova last year, the one you are missing is probably Mike Nardi.  Give it a few months and the name will be known.  Thanks to Lowry, Nardi was moved off the ball for much of the 2005-2006 season, but with Lowry gone, Nardi will be back running the show.  After averaging 10.4 points and 2.0 assists last year, expect both of those numbers to increase for Nardi’s senior season.  Dwayne Anderson, a 6-6 wing, will battle for minutes at the two guard spot and Bilal Benn could use his versatility to be an effective backup point guard.  There are three quality players in Nardi, Sumpter and Sheridan to build this team around, but the rest are unproven freshmen and sophomores.  It may take a little while for those players to find their roles, but by March they won’t be unproven anymore.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

Mike Nardi, Senior, Guard, 10.4 points per game

Scottie Reynolds, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Curtis Sumpter, Senior, Forward, DNP last season

Dante Cunninham, Sophomore, Forward, 2.2 points per game

Will Sheridan, Senior, Forward, 5.5 points per game

 

Also: Complete Big East Preview & Ranking

25 Gonzaga » Complete List » 23 Indiana

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