In what appears to be a recurring theme, The Smoking Musket exchanged questions with an upcoming opponents' blog, to get a better feel for their team. This time, it is my pleasure to introduce, Villanova Viewpoint...
1. While I did not get to watch much of your game against Georgetown, from what I saw, it seemed you had trouble handling Georgetown's size. Which is surprising because, from the stats, 'Nova appears to be a good rebounding team. Is the lack of size a concern as you face bigger teams down the stretch?
Absolutely. Our big men are few in number. The only true centers that we have are a true freshman, Mouphtaou Yarou, and Maurice Sutton, a redshirt freshman. Yarou's a decent player, but he missed most of the first half after he contracted hepatitis, so he's being eased back into the rotation. He's tall, but not real big, and isn't very polished on offense yet - he's a 14-minute player right now.
Sutton is an end-of-the-rotation guy - he'll play if the other big men are in foul trouble, but he's really a defensive specialist, and that's his only role.
So, for that reason, Antonio Pena has to play the "five", although it's not his true position. If Pena gets into foul trouble, it really hurts us, because we then have to play a really small lineup, even by our standards.
You're right - Villanova is a good rebounding team, mainly because Wright emphasizes its importance, and everyone in the program buys into the system. All of our guards rebound well, in light of their size, particularly Reggie Redding.
Also, don't forget to join us tonight for another live blog of this huge match-up. More Q & A after the jump...
2. Has Jay Wright adjusted any of his offensive philosophies to facilitate Scottie Reynolds' talent?
That's hard to say, because Reynolds already fits so perfectly into what Wright wants. Wright likes to have his guards, drive, drive, drive, and Reynolds is perfect for that. Despite his size, he's the best I've ever seen here, in terms of being able to drive on bigger players, float sky-high layups and have them go in and/or get fouled.
Your perception is accurate, with regard to the difficulty that we had with Georgetown's size. John Thompson III, to his credit, would collapse his defense in the paint to try to cut off those driving lanes, and make it difficult for our guards to slash towards the basket, and force them to risk being called for charges.
And he had a lot of success with it. We committed a lot of turnovers, including a number of offensive fouls. It took us right out of what we like to do in the halfcourt.
3. What is the biggest surprise of the season thus far?
The 20-2 record, absolutely. We were optimistic, but nobody imagined that we'd have our best start ever in the Big East or win 20 out of 21, against this schedule...
Although we were ranked in the preseason, we lost Dante Cunningham to the NBA, along with Dwayne Anderson and Shane Clark, and so we had some holes to fill.
In terms of individual players, Pena is probably the biggest surprise. He was an end of the rotation player last year - he was the 8th player in an 8-man rotation. But he's really polished his offensive skills. He can finish in the lane and pass in transition to the guards. To a lesser extent, is the emergence of Taylor King as our "glue" player, who can create matchup problems, by playing more than one position, and also hustle after every ball on the floor, hit from the perimeter, and so forth...
4. How did Scottie Reynolds manage to get 10 years of eligibility?
Very funny - I like that. It seems like he's been here for a million years, because he played a lot as a freshman (he passed 2,000 points against Seton Hall last week, and he has an outside chance of ending up as the school's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Kerry Kittles), and because NBA scouts think he's too small. He floated his name last year for leaving early, and there was virtually no interest in him. I did a lot of research on mock draft analyst sites, and nobody had him being drafted...
Timing is everything. The 2006 team (the four-starting-guard team, the one that ended up with a #1 seed) had Allan Ray and Randy Foye as seniors, plus Kyle Lowry,we who left early, and so we lost three star guards in one season. Accordingly, when Reynolds got here in 2006-07, there was a lot of playing time available for a new guard.