Season Recap: Men’s Basketball

Kyle Scudilla

It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats in the ’06-’07 season. However, thanks to a healthy Curtis Sumpter, solid senior leadership and the emergence of a star freshman, the Wildcats swept through the Big 5, had a winning mark in the ultra-competitive Big East and returned to the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season.

The ‘Cats tipped off their season by playing former coach Rollie Massimino’s new team in Northwood, followed by a third-place finish in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. The ‘Cats returned to the mainland and started off hot, winning seven of their next eight games. Three losses in their next four games made things a bit worrisome along the Main Line, but the lone win in that stretch, a road victory against rival Georgetown, was one of the biggest victories of the season.

Three straight wins against Notre Dame, Texas and Providence in January reestablished Villanova as a team that could make a postseason run. A four-game winning streak to begin February continued to solidify the team’s tournament resumé, thanks to a win over Louisville and a decisive victory over St. Joseph’s to sweep through the Big 5 for the second straight season. Despite losing crucial games to Georgetown and Marquette, a three-game winning streak to close the regular season, punctuated by a win over Syracuse at the Wachovia Center, seemed to punch the Wildcats’ ticket to the Big Dance.

Villanova made its annual trip to New York to compete in the Big East tournament and bowed out in the second round after defeating DePaul but losing a five-point decision to Georgetown.

When the NCAA tournament selection committee announced the seeds for the tournament, the ‘Cats were given a No. 9 seed. The team traveled to Chicago’s United Center to meet the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round but lost by a final score of 67-58.

Sumpter led the team in scoring (17.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg) in his fifth year at Villanova. The difference maker that put the Wildcats on the next level this season was freshman Scottie Reynolds, who averaged 14.8 ppg and four assists per contest. His 40-point explosion against UConn made him one of the most praised freshmen in the country. He should act as next year’s leader and the bridge from the departing seniors (Mike Nardi, Will Sheridan Sumpter) to the bright future of the men’s basketball program.