Villanova Wildcats NCAA Mens Basketball Preview

By Joel Welser


Villanova Wildcats

Big East Conference


2009-10: 25-8, 13-5

2009-10 postseason: NCAA

Coach: Jay Wright (203-99 at Villanova, 325-184 overall)


Villanova did not necessarily lack depth last season, but they did lack experienced depth. In the end that was a major reason for their early departure in the NCAA Tournament. The system should be the same, but now all the inexperienced freshmen are veteran sophomores and will be ready to play a much bigger role than they did last season. Without Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding and Taylor King, they will have to.


Key Losses: F Taylor King, G Reggie Redding, G Scottie Reynolds


Key Newcomers:

James Bell should be able to work his way into the regular rotation, especially if and when Coach Jay Wright plays with a smaller lineup. At 6-5 and 222 pounds, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Bell has the size and athleticism to hit the glass hard and help out a team that may, for all practical purposes, run a four guard offense yet again. However, power forward JayVaughn Pinkston is one reason why Villanova may be able to play big more often. Pinkston is a tough interior player, but also has the ability to step outside and hit the long ball. He may not be ready for major minutes as a freshman, but he should be a capable player off the bench and a major contributor in the years to come.



For three years Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes have taken a back seat to Scottie Reynolds. Now it is time for the Corey’s to take over the show. Fisher has never disappointed and averaged 13.3 points, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals last season. Fisher is more than capable of taking over what Reynolds did for this team last year. Stokes has been less consistent during his collegiate career, but he is a fine outside shooter who has been adding more to his overall game every year. As a senior, he will be asked to add to his 9.5 point per game average and continue to be a tough rebounder from the wing. Dominic Cheek is one of those many talented sophomores who are ready to play a bigger role. Maalik Wayns falls into the same category. What makes Cheek a more likely candidate to step into a starting role is his 6-6 frame and ability to help out on the glass, but Wayns is a better all-around scorer. Either way, both sophomores will see significant playing time after averaging around 15 minutes per game as freshmen.



If there was more backcourt depth, it would not be out of the question for Cheek and Wayns to both find a spot in the starting lineup. However, Villanova should have too much talent in the frontcourt to play small. Antonio Pena has played the five spot a lot more than he should, but still managed to average 10.5 points and 7.0 rebounds as a junior. At 6-8 and 235 pounds, Nova hopes Pena can move back to his more natural power forward spot this year. Maurice Sutton and Isaiah Armwood are a couple players who can bolster the frontcourt depth. Sutton has the size to play the five spot and allow Pena to move to the four, but Armwood would likely only fill in at the power forward position.


Who to Watch:

What has Villanova fans most excited is the emergence of Mouphtaou Yarou. The 6-10, 250 pound sophomore spent the fall slowed by an illness and did not get on the floor until January. That lack of playing time really stalled his development. Yet, by March, Yarou was having some great games and ended up earning eight starts on the year. If he can pick up where he left off, the Wildcats frontcourt will be very deep and very dangerous.


Final Projection:

With Pena, Yarou, Pinkston, Armwood and Sutton available, this may be the deepest frontcourt Villanova has had in a long time. Usually, the Wildcats win games with their guards and there is a big man or two who simply grabs some rebounds and gets a few easy buckets because the opposing defense forgets about them. That will not the case this year, but Coach Wright’s team does not lack the firepower in the backcourt either. That balance will catapult Villanova back towards the top of the Big East standings.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

Corey Fisher, Senior, Guard, 13.3 ppg

Corey Stokes, Senior, Guard, 9.5 ppg

Dominic Cheek, Sophomore, Guard, 4.9 ppg

Antonio Pena, Senior, Forward, 10.5 ppg

Mouphtaou Yarou, Sophomore, Center, 4.5 ppg