MBB Recap: New ‘Cats make debut north of the border

Tim Richer

Last weekend marked the first in-game action for the ’07-’08 men’s basketball team as they traveled up to Ottawa, Canada to participate in a four-game exhibition tournament. The Wildcats showed off their new offensive firepower by sweeping their Canadian opponents.

The tournament was a strategic move by Head Coach Jay Wright, who was able to hold practice in August in preparation for the Ottawa tournament. In addition to the in-game competition, the Wildcats benefited from holding August practices that the NCAA does not allow without the exhibition tournament.

Villanova began the tournament last Saturday night by defeating Carleton University, the winners of five consecutive Canadian national championships, by a score of 61-45. The game was a defensive struggle, led by junior forward Shane Clark, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in 32 minutes. Sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds added 12 points for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats led off a Sunday doubleheader by defeating Queens University, 73-43. Wright started the game off with a young lineup, starting true freshmen Malcolm Grant and Corey Stokes along with red-shirt freshmen Andrew Ott and Antonio Pena. Junior swingman Dwayne Anderson rounded out a starting lineup that jumped out to a 23-2 lead.

Stokes led Villanova against Queens, tallying 17 points and seven rebounds in 38 minutes. Two ‘Cats finished with double-doubles; Anderson had 10 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore center Casiem Drummond added 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Sunday night’s matchup featured the University of Ottawa, which gave the Wildcats all they could handle early on. The Gee-Gees took an early 23-20 lead; however, the Wildcats clawed back with 10 minutes to go in the first half and did not look back, winning 103-72. Reynolds tallied 19 points in 26 minutes.

“I liked our aggressiveness at both ends of the court,” Wright told Villanova.com after the Ottawa victory.

Monday afternoon, ‘Nova took the court in its last game against an All-Star team of recent Carleton graduates that featured players who compete professionally in Europe and Australia. The game ended up as Villanova’s closest; the Wildcats won 77-62. Reynolds dominated the contest with a game-high 33 points.

Among the notable performances from the weekend tournament was the unbelievable shooting from Stokes. Stokes, an All-American from St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey, completed 13 of his 27 3-point attempts to compile a .481 percentage behind the arc.

Picking up right where he left off last season, Reynolds scored 64 total points in the three games he played. He is expected to be this year’s main scoring option after the departure of fifth-year senior Curtis Sumpter. The sophomore was second on the team in scoring last season with 14.8 points per game.

Junior Dante Cunningham was the Wildcats’ biggest presence in the interior, putting together 37 points in three games to go along with strong defense and rebounding.

‘Nova will not play another exhibition game until November.