‘Cats Foye-il Hoop Group’s plans in 98-74 rout

Leslie Combs

The fabled freshmen made their debut Wednesday night during Villanova’s first preseason exhibition game against the Hoop Group, representatives of the largest basketball instruction group in the world.

The ’Cats dominated the former collegiate players from the get go, and the newcomers were a large part of the success, which resulted in a 98-74 victory for the Wildcats.

The nerves were visible, especially in the first half, but the freshmen still showed signs of why they are the one of the best new classes in the nation.

Randy Foye adjusted early to the quick transitional game head coach Jay Wright ran and lead the ’Cats on in scoring with 23 for the night, hitting three from behind the arc.

“We were a little nervous at first, but we knew what we had to do, and we played hard,” Foye said.

Joining Foye in the backcourt, classmate Allan Ray also looked strong at the guard position and came away with 17 points, tying Foye in the three-point land and leading the team in assists with nine.

Big men Jason Fraser and Curtis Sumpter started off a little slow, but bounced back to help execute the sharp pass plays that highlighted the game. For Fraser, it was his first time on the court in a few days after missing the last two practices for personal reasons and so his transition was even harder.

Still, at the final buzzer Fraser netted 13 and Sumpter walked away with 17, with both executing crowd-pleasing dunks.

Still, as impressive as the flying dunks, nothing-but-net makes from downtown and swift passes were, the freshmen did look like freshmen playing in their first collegiate game.

The foursome contributed 11 of the team’s 18 turnovers, looking a little too eager when it came to the half-court passes and ball control.

But where the freshmen faltered, the veterans picked up.

Senior Ricky Wright’s presence was visible not only with his 17 points and strength inside, but also was evident with his verbal encouragements that reminded the novices exactly what their job was.

At the point, junior Derrick Snowden was able to move the ball around with apparent ease and adjusted well to the faster transitional play that figures to be an integral ingredient in the ’Cats’ season.

As skilled and talented as the freshmen class may be, it is evident that the experience of the upperclassmen will carry ’Nova this year.

The confidence, on-court leadership and mental knowledge of the collegiate game that was visible Wednesday night by the veterans were positive signs of things to come.

Up next for the ’Cats is a road trip to Madison Square Gardens where the men will tip-off at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15 against top 25 ranked Marquette.

The game is the first of the prestigious Coaches versus Cancer doubleheader.

Although Coach Wright knows this game will be a challenging one for his team, he is confident.

“I am comfortable with where the team is now,” Wright said. “As the season progresses we will just get better and better.”

Notes: Senior guard Gary Buchanan did not play against Hoop Group, as he is still recovering from a sprained knee. However, he should be able to get in a few practice sessions and be ready to kick off his final season on the Main Line against Marquette on Nov. 15.