Blog Entry

Big East Preview 15, Villanova Wildcats

Posted on: November 12, 2008 9:03 pm
Villanova is one of many Big East teams garnering a lot of preseason attention.  Returning the top seven (and nine of the top ten) scorers from a Sweet Sixteen team will do that.  Of course, the critics say 'Nova benefited from a weak slate of opponents (until Kansas), a sentiment with at least a small measure of credibilty.  A lot of experienced, battle-tested talent will go a long way, though, so good things are very possible for this team.  They expect to make some noise in the conference and in the postseason.  How loud will it be?

20-12 Overall, 9-9 Big East (8th)
Eliminated 2nd Round of Big East tournament (Georgetown)
Lost in Sweet Sixteen to eventual champion Kansas


Dwayne Anderson        G/F
Shane Clark                     F
Jason Colenda               G
Dante Cunningham       F
Casiem Drummond      C
Corey Fisher                   G
Malcolm Grant                G
Andrew Ott                       F
Antonio Pena                  F
Reggie Redding            G
Scottie Reynolds           G
Corey Stokes                 G
Frank Tchuisi                 F

Grant, Ott

Simply put, those losses don't matter.  At all.  5.6 ppg goes to Miami (Grant) and 0.8 ppg goes to Penn State (Ott).  The result is an intact roster from a very successful team.


Russell Wooten        not an arrival per se, he has been on the roster but not played for two years.  I have to assume he's a non-scholarship player who won't be a factor.

Taylor King             F  (transfer from Duke)  He's sitting out the '08-'09 campaign, so this mention is just to note he's taking a roster spot.  He could be a big part of the next team, though, that will feature a very solid freshman class, or so it appears.

Maurice Sutton     F/C

He's the freshman class by himself, which I suppose makes since with only two players leaving.  25th ranked at his Center, he adds something where the Wildcats need it most.  If he could be the presence up front Drummond never was, it will do wonders.

The Schedule:

Nonconference Games
:      Albany, Fordham, Niagra, Monmouth, Towson, Pennsylvania, Houston Baptist, Texas, Saint Joseph's, La Salle, Navy, Temple

We probably won't know a lot about Villanova after this slate, unless they beat Texas.  Sure, Temple and Niagra are dangerous teams, but the Wildcats should win those games.  If they lose to Texas, well Texas is a top ten team.  There isn't a lot of room to build a great resume on that schedule, so they'll have to do better than 9-9 in the Big East to be a tournament lock.

Two Time Opponents:     Marquette, Providence, Syracuse

None of the heavyweights, but none of the cake walk teams either.  4-2, or even 5-1, is achievable in these games.

Remaining Roadies:     Seton Hall, Connecticut, South Florida, West Virginia, DePaul, Notre Dame

Home Games:      Louisville, St. John's, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Georgetown

This is in my opinion a very favorable Big East schedule overall.  They avoid home and homes with any of the big four...and split the four games two home, two away.  They have enough easy teams on the road (Seton Hall, USF, DePaul) that a good home record will assure them an over .500 and top half finish in the conference.
The Outlook

Best Case Scenario:
     Victoria Zdrok attends all the home games, and travels with the team, inspiring a competitive spirit.  The Coreys (Fisher and Stokes) help out by contributing about 10 ppg apiece alongside Reynolds.  Cunningham and Clark hold down the frontcourt, and the rotation of Drummond and newcome Sutton at center give Villanova the presence in the paint, offensively and defensively, that they lacked last year. That cumulative effect gets them the upset over Texas and a perfect ooc mark.  They win 5 in the home and home series, adding three or four more road wins.  At home, they win 4 or 5 more, for a record in the range of 12-6 to 14-4, with the high end enough to finish in the top 4 and get a double bye into the Big East tournament.  A good showing there gets them Regionally protected in the NCAA tournament, and an Elite Eight is in sight.

Worst Case Scenario:
     Zdrok instead goes to all the Georgetown games, having contracted late-developing Hoya lust.  There isn't quite enough improvement from the guards behind Reynolds to ramp up the scoring.  Drummond and Sutton struggle to compete inside, and consequently the Wildcats  have trouble against teams with solid frontcourts.  They get stunned by Niagra and Temple, also losing the big game to Texas.  They do manage to beat a few very good teams in the Big East, but wind up finishing ninth or tenth and missing the big dance.  They do well in the little dance, though, for some minor redemption.

My Take:
    Poorly placed Victoria Zdrok jokes aside...I mentioned above that nine of the top ten scorers return, including the top seven.  However, only the top three of those really produced a lot of points.  Clark, Pena, Anderson, and Stokes will have to cumulatively pick up ten points or so for Villanova to take the next step (I think they can do so, but it is an open question for now).  They, like many teams in the conference, have the talent for an NCAA tournament and will be a tough out if they get there.  Defense is what I believe will make or break 'Nova.  If Drummond and Sutton can be effective under their own basket, and Clark and Cunningham pick it up a little as well, they could be a force.  If not, they could be in for some long evenings against the stronger inside teams in the league.  That's a large part of the reason I see a huge range of possibilities for Villanova.  I won't be surprised if they sneak into the top four of the Big East, especially with their relatively favorable schedule, but I also won't be surprised if they finish ninth.  Until some games are played, the middle of this league is very hard to separate, so don't take that as an insult to the team.  The ninth place team in the Big East will be a pretty good squad.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Dec 19, 2006
Posted on: November 19, 2008 11:11 am

Big East Preview 15, Villanova Wildcats

Good review.

My 2 cents. Grant, while not a huge lose is still a lose. Credit him alone for 2 wins last years. He was that spark off the bench that was sorely needed when the rest of the team was in a funk. Refer to the LSU game last year. However Nova clearly has depth here.

The big question mark for me is Drummond, he has had another year to develop and if he can stay out on the court a little more by avoiding foul trouble he will have a big impact. Look for Cunningham's scoring to go up as teams have to pay attention to Drummond more and Drummond hopefully gets the big rebounds.

Nova has always been a "guard" school, but has been getting some good PF recuits, but I don't think Sutton will get much time this year. Hopfully he will be a producer next year.

Since: Apr 18, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2008 11:01 pm

Big East Preview 15, Villanova Wildcats

Nova had its share of injuries last year, especially Drummond, their only true center, and Clark, who is important to their perimeter defense and who helps out at PF.   If Drummond can stay healthy and play like he did in November and December this is a very good team.  I hope the freshman PF can give them a few minutes so they can keep Drummond's minutes down and keep Clark at his natural SF position.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: November 13, 2008 5:31 pm

Big East Preview 15, Villanova Wildcats

And I think ANY of the teams in tier three could displace Pitt or ND in tier two, but also any of them could fade and finish 9th or 10th.  It is just crazy.

I also wouldn't be surprised if one of the teams like GTown, Cuse, Nova or WVU really strung it together in either the reg season or the Tourney and beat out the top 2 tiers of teams to win the league...

Injuries and Coaches are gonna have a lot to do with the order of finish in this league....

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: November 13, 2008 5:24 pm

Big East Preview 15, Villanova Wildcats

couldn't have said it better.  I think there are tiers in this league, with Ville and Conn up top, ND and Pitt next, then Cuse, Nova, WVU, Marquette, and GTown...with Provy very close in there.

And I think ANY of the teams in tier three could displace Pitt or ND in tier two, but also any of them could fade and finish 9th or 10th.  It is just crazy.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: November 13, 2008 5:05 pm

Big East Preview 15, Villanova Wildcats

Ok, here's the thing.... I have seen a bunch of people saying that the Sweet 16 run was a fluke. They are wrong.... That is just what is gonna happen in this league for a while... Teams look worse than they are and then surprise a few teams in the Dance....

Nova is gonna be good, they lost nothing from that team and everyone is a year older.... Scottie Reynolds is one of the best guards in the nation... However, for anyone to say that they know that this team is better than UM, Cuse, WVU is nuts.... Hell, I could say the same thing about Pitt and ND....

Likewise, anyone that can say that they for sure know that any of the above 5 teams is definately better than Nova is nuts as well.... I have said it before and will say it again here.... This league is way too deep and way too talented to predict anything....

Nova could win the BE, they could finish 9th... I would say that they will probably finish between 4 and 7....

You give me a Reynolds, Clark and Fisher, or a Ruoff, Ebanks and Butler, or a McNeal, James, and Hayworth, or a Devendorf, Harris and Flynn, and I have trouble picking a favorite.... Let alone adding in supporting casts, the potential HOF coaches (and current) that teach them and it gets even deeper....

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: November 13, 2008 9:40 am

Big East Preview 15, Villanova Wildcats

Well, I think they can be the fifth best team, but so could Marquette or Syracuse.

I think I like the Orange's roster a little better, so I'll probably have Villanova at sixth.  In addition to the two guys who averaged double figures last year (Reynolds and Cunningham) there are a bunch of players who could move their scoring up into the 8-12 ppg range (Fisher already had 9, then Clark, Pena, Stokes, Anderson, and maybe even Drummond).

They remind me of some Pitt teams of the past, where it won't take a lot from one guy but a little from a bunch of guys to be very good.  I'm not worried about scoring...but I do worry about defense on the inside.  I think the Wildcats will look very good against teams that rely heavily on guard play, but some of those elite Big East squads that really bang in the paint will be tough outs.

The only way 'Nova could surprise me is by finishing 1 or 2, or below 9 or 10.  I hate to hedge like that, but I see a lot of potential from them but it's gonna be a real dogfight this year.

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: November 12, 2008 9:32 pm

Big East Preview 15, Villanova Wildcats

Where do you think that Nova will finish if the Coreys put up 10 ppg a piece along with Cunninghams 10 ppg (he's nearly a lock to do that I'm actually expecting 12 PPG from him?)  I see them as the 5th best team if one of the Coreys emerge as one of the top in the BEast at their position, even though they could both easily emerge as stars.  If they don't however progress (which I highly doubt), I see them finishing around 7th to 9th in the BEast.  If you point a gun to my head I say this team will more than likely finish in the top 6 in the BEast, but if the Coreys full fill their potential as sophomores....look out.

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