Though Coach Rollie Massimino may look a little different this season after shedding 35 pounds, his team won't. Four starters return from last year's 24-8 squad that advanced to the NCAA's final eight before losing to North Carolina 70-60. With blue-chip freshman Forward Harold Pressley replacing the only missing starter, Aaron Howard, the Wildcats have returned to a preseason prominence they haven't experienced since the early '70s.
A born-again jogger, Massimino will have the Wildcats running more this year, too, though he cautions, "We'll have to live with some mistakes." Many of them will be made by senior Point Guard Stewart Granger, whose career has been a pastiche of spectacular successes and spectacular errors. After a superb sophomore year, last season he had 52 more turnovers (110) than steals (58). Villanova's off-guard, sophomore Dwayne McClain, isn't a strong ball handler, but he's a gifted athlete who will guard the opposition's top non-center threat, whether it be a small guard or big forward.
Only one thing will change Massimino's commitment to run—if it takes Center John Pinone out of the offense. At 6'8", 230 pounds, Pinone, Villanova's leading scorer the past three years, may be handicapped by a fast-break game, but in the paint he's as quick, strong and effective as any big man in the college ranks. Pressley found out about Pinone when they were high school opponents in Connecticut. "I took a look at him and said, 'This will be easy,' " recalls Pressley. It wasn't: Pinone scored 48 points. "I vowed revenge," said Pressley. "I guess I won't get it now, unless it's in practice."
Until Pressley gets comfortable, senior Mike Mulquin will do just fine at forward. Sophomore Ed Pinckney—Easy Ed because of his laid-back nature—will do finer at the other forward. He averaged 14.2 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds last season. The only thing Pinckney lacks is a body—he's 6'10" but weighs only 195—and Massimino is constantly prodding him to get more physical. Pinckney doesn't always agree, but admits "some of my moves are weak for my size."
The only thing between Villanova and a 25-win season may be a murderous schedule, which includes North Carolina and Kentucky on the road. It's schedule enough, in fact, to keep any coach on the move.