Before you read another word, I highly recommend that you check out Brian's outstanding post, "Commencement: Thanks & Congrats." The video featuring Scottie's career highlights cannot be missed.
Villanova.com’s Nova Notebook ran a feature suggesting that Antonio Pena is ready to assume the mantle of leadership. "At the end of the season, you get the feeling that it's time to step up," says Pena. "We learned from Scottie and Reg, and Dwayne (Anderson), Dante (Cunningham), Shane (Clark) and Frank (Tchuisi) before that, about what it takes to be a Villanova basketball player. Jay Wright is already declaring how pleased he is thus far with the response the senior class of 2011 has made to its new identity. "It's been good," states Pena. "Everyone has been open to learning and, really, we're all learning. This is all new to Fish, Stokes and me too."
With the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft passing over last weekend and the 2010 recruiting class now settled, everybody in the business of ranking college basketball teams decided it was time to update their college basketball rankings. Don’t rule out another round of preseason rankings should there be any major developments between now and Midnight Madness (Calipari jump to the NBA, Michael Gilchrist transfer to Villanova, NCAA eligibility issues, etc.) Most of the pundits put Duke at No. 1. Here’s how they see Nova:
ESPN’s Pat Forde picks Villanova #10: “This requires a leap of faith, trusting that the Wildcats will not resemble the dysfunctional group that finished last season on a 3-6 slide. Scottie Reynolds was a very good player for Nova, and it would not have made the 2009 Final Four without him -- but this team might experience some addition by his subtraction if a few younger players step up and toughen up.”
Bleacher Report’s Etan Kaplan picks Nova # 9: “Scottie Reynolds is gone, but honestly who cares? Reynolds was invisible in the NCAA tournament and his leadership lacked for much of the season. Sophomore Maalik Wayns should fill in for Reynolds and the Wildcats have the rest of their core returning in Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, and Sophomore-sure to be stars Taylor King and Mouphtaou Yarou.” [Editor's Note: Close Etan, but King is a redshirt Junior]
My two “favorite” pundits, ESPN’s Andy Katz and Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News both picked Villanova at #8. Say’s Katz, “Scottie Reynolds was clearly Nova's go-to player last season. No one will dispute that. But if you watched the Wildcats, even in their squeaker against Robert Morris in the first round or against Saint Mary's in the second, you saw how much talent they have for next season. Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena will be rejoined by Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek, who are rising stars in the Big East. Expect the latter two to increase their profiles this season. The issue for the Wildcats will be how much more can they get out of Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton. There is plenty of potential there as well. Expect Nova to be in the thick of the Big East race.”
Mike DeCourcy , who Nova fans will always remember for his ground-breaking piece of journalism claiming that Mouph Yarou was actually a 25 year-old masquerading as a college freshman, outdid himself with an exhaustive analysis supporting his #8 prediction. I repeat it here in its entirety: “The Wildcats have to find a principal scorer.”
Gary Parish of CBS Sports.com was the most bullish on Nova’s chances next season, picking them #4 with a somewhat controversial statement: “the prediction here is that the Wildcats will be better without Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding because their absence will allow Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek to flourish alongside sophomore big man Mouphtaou Yarou and incoming freshman Jayvaughn Pinkston. Add a nucleus of Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena and Taylor King, and Villanova should be the Big East favorite (just slightly ahead of Pitt).” [Editor's Note: We love you too, Gary!]
Greenwichtime.com reports "the Nets' coaching search will begin next week, but they're probably not going to make a splashy hire — as many thought would happen when Mikhail Prokhorov becomes owner. Current television analysts and former NBA coaches Jeff Van Gundy and Avery Johnson, Villanova coach Jay Wright and Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau are the leading candidates for the Nets' job, sources said." [Editor's Note: I would not lose too much sleep over this one, Nova fans.]
SUAthletics.com reports that the "Syracuse men's basketball program finished second in Division I attendance, averaging 22,152 for 19 home dates in 2009-10. Kentucky led the nation in average attendance (24,111) and total home-court attendance (433,989). Syracuse had the largest home-court crowd for the 30th consecutive season. The SU-Villanova game had 34,616 on hand, a record-setting number for an on-campus contest."
Cincinnati.comreports that "former NBA player and Villanova All-American, Michael Bradley, has been named the new boys’ basketball coach of Summit Country Day School, a private Catholic high school in Cincinnati. Bradley won a national title at Kentucky in 1998. He later transferred to Villanova where he was named a consensus All-American in 2001. He was selected in the first round of the NBA draft and played five seasons in the league. His stops included Toronto (2001-04), Atlanta (2004), Orlando (2004-05), Sacramento (2005) and Philadelphia (2005-06)."
CardChronicle.com reports that "Rick Pitino turned in his Big East preseason coaches' poll ballot yesterday and revealed that he pegged St. John's as the league's top dog. "I was debating between St.John's, Pittsburgh, Villanova and Cincinnati, but I didn't want to put that on Mic (Cronin) so I went with St. John's," said Pitino."
The Academic Progress Rate (APR) is a metric established by the NCAA in 2005 to measure the success or failure of collegiate athletic teams in moving student-athletes towards graduation. Collegiate sports teams that fail to achieve an APR score of 925 - equivalent to a 50% graduation rate - may be penalized with the loss of scholarships. A perfect score is 1000. CBS Sports.com reports that "the NCAA announced Wednesday that three of this year's Final Four participants finished among the top 10 percent of men's basketball teams on this year's Academic Progress Rate. National champion Duke wasn't on the list."
"The NCAA publicly recognizes teams that finish in the top 10 percent of each sport and all teams with perfect scores. APR data for all Division I teams will be released later this spring. Yale led all schools with the most teams on the list (24) for the fourth straight year. The Ivy League had 135 teams make the cut, the most of any conference. The Patriot League was second with 90 teams, followed by the Big East with 70." Michael Marot of AP adds that "only eight teams that played in a bowl game or the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs were honored, including the 2008 and 2009 FCS champions, Richmond and Villanova." [Editor's Note: A cherry on top of a great season for Nova football.]