‘Cats need scoring from third option

David Cassilo

On Monday, senior guard Scottie Reynolds led the way yet again with 21 points.  Meanwhile, junior guard Corey Fisher continued to be the steady section option, chipping in 17 points.

Those numbers are impressive, but they are not the reason the Wildcats won. That accolade would go to junior forward Antonio Peña, who provided 10 points and nine boards in the victory. 

Spectacular? No. Necessary? Absolutely.

Despite being second in the nation in scoring at 85.1 points per game, the Wildcats began a troubling trend of relying too heavily on Reynolds and Fisher since Big East play started. In 11 Big East games, only Peña, junior guard Corey Stokes and freshman guard Maalik Wayns have reached double figures in scoring more than three times, with four each.

The problem is not that the Wildcats need another Reynolds. They need someone who will pick up the slack when Reynolds struggles in the first half or when Fisher sits in the second half with foul trouble. On Monday, that was Peña.

Along with Stokes and senior guard Reggie Redding, Peña will be crucial to how the team fares in March. These are the team’s veterans. Against Georgetown this past Saturday, Redding took just two shots, Peña struggled with foul trouble and Stokes did not find his groove until the game was out of reach.

A season ago, Villanova had a strong but not spectacular regular season. Things changed in March, partly because of the play of Dwayne Anderson. After reaching double figures in just six of his first 23 games, Anderson hit that mark in five of the final eight games, including the NCAA tournament.

Who will be Anderson this season? Peña, Redding and Stokes all have the offensive talent to become a concern for any defense, but elevating from concern to threat is what will make this team dangerous. 

Reynolds is fantastic, and Fisher can be just as difficult to stop. There is no doubt that Villanova can go far this season riding these two players. However, it will be when Peña, Redding or Stokes perform well that the team shows its greatest potential.