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College Basketball Preview: Villanova Wildcats

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (CBS) – It’s another season of high expectations on the Main Line, as Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats come into the 2010-2011 season ranked sixth in the country.

Villanova had a very successful campaign last season, but it ended earlier than many people expected as the Wildcats were eliminated by St. Mary’s in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

This season, Wildcats’ head coach Jay Wright is learning to live without guards Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding, as both have graduated.

Wright recalls that Reynolds left as the program’s second all-time leading scorer, with 2,222 points:

 <em>College Basketball Preview: </em> Villanova Wildcats“Scottie was such a great leader on the court, he was also off the court.  But Reggie Redding, really, off the court was a great leader for us.  We are going to miss those two a lot.”

But Wright (right) feels comfortable that he has players who can step up and fill the leadership void:

“We like that the three seniors — (guard) Corey Fisher, (guard) Corey Stokes, and (forward) Antonio Pena — are really playing with maturity and coming to practice every day with a great level of maturity and taking their leadership responsibilities very seriously.”

Hear the entire interview with Jay Wright in this CBS Philly SportsPod…

Those three seniors will also be counted on to fill the scoring void left by Reynolds and Redding.

Wright also has high hopes that a couple of young big men can make big strides down low:

“Mouphtaou Yarou (in top photo) and Maurice Sutton at the center spot, they are really coming along.  They are both sophomores, but they are really coming along.  If midway through this year or by the end of this year they can be shot blockers and enforcers inside, that could give us something that we’ve never had.”

The Wildcats have become a premiere program on the national stage, and Coach Wright says it’s important they take things like high preseason rankings in stride:

“I know it’s great for our program when you are nationally ranked and everybody is talking  about you.  It helps in recruiting and it is good for our fans.  But we always have to make sure our players don’t ‘drink the ink.’  They are 18,19, 20 years old, and everybody is talking to them about being #6 in the country.  We’re not 6th in the country (preseason).  We haven’t done anything.  No one has done anything. So it’s something you have to balance with these young guys.”

The Wildcats will get their first chance to do something on Friday night when they host Bucknell at the Pavilion.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060.

Photos provided

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