Thursday, October 19, 2006

V for Villanova

College basketball season is approaching. I will miss last year's Villanova team -- as I noted following their last game earlier this year, that team might be the most memorable sports team that I've ever supported. But college basketball always gives you a chance to start over with a whole new set of guys, and we have a coach who seems to be building something very special...

They still look like the best team in the Big Five, and a team that should be in the mix in the brutal Big East Conference.

And that reflects nearly as well on Wright as the success his first wave of players achieved in their final season together.

Wright was telling the self-deprecating tale of how McDonald's all-American guard Scottie Reynolds wound up on the Main Line. Basically, Reynolds recruited himself, choosing 'Nova after getting out of a letter of intent to attend Oklahoma.

"We did nothing," Wright said. "Not only did he fall into our lap, but the perfect fit for our team fell into our lap."

That's because, with Lowry jumping to the NBA, Wright suddenly had a need for a guard. But Reynolds' decision to attend Villanova didn't happen in a vacuum. It happened because he watched Wright's team play on TV last year and liked the way they played, the way they were coached, and what he heard about the way the program was run.

This is how perennial powerhouses do it. You create a program that top players want to join. Mike Nardi, Will Sheridan and the returning Curtis Sumpter still have the sparkle from last year's team. Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark grew into contributors over the course of the season. Now along comes Reynolds.

"He looked up to those guys," Wright said. "I think he might have come even if Kyle Lowry stayed, because he talked about playing with Kyle. He looked up to Randy. That's what you want, guys who want to come to the place those other guys came, and who want to be that kind of person."
I love the fact that our program works to concentrate on producing good people as well as good players. Guys like Randy Foye, Jason Fraser and Allan Ray made me proud because of the people they were, in addition to the way they played. It sounds like Jay Wright wants to produce more of the same types of people. That's more reassuring than any NCAA Tournament bid... but I'll take another of those as well.


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