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4 VILLANOVA Wildcats


On guard, Big East: A deep, skilled backcourt will make 'Nova a power

For nearly a decade, Villanova coach Jay Wright has been building teams around dynamic combo-guards. It's been a successful formula—the Wildcats have been to every NCAA Tournament since 2005—and Wright isn't changing now, even with the departure of Scottie Reynolds, the program's second-leading scorer and an All-America as a senior last season. "These two," Wright says of Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns, this year's backcourt pairing, "have a chance to be our best combination."

It's a bold statement, given Villanova's reputation as a guard factory. Wayns, who grew up in North Philadelphia, knows that history well. His father decorated their home with photos of Villanova's 1985 championship team, and Wayns regularly attended Wildcats games. Two weeks after his sophomore year at Roman Catholic High, Wayns announced that he was going to Villanova. "It's a guard school," he said.

That's when Wayns's education began. Over the next two years he and Reynolds spoke frequently—about basketball, music and anything else on their minds. Eventually they became, as Wayns says, "like big brother--little brother," and Wright made them roommates when Wayns arrived on campus in June 2009.

Now comes the task of replacing Reynolds. Wayns needs to be more of what he was last December and January (53.9% shooting, 1.43 apg) than in February and March (38.0%, 0.77). Wayns says he played too recklessly as a freshman, but he feels more under control: "Last year I was like 100 miles an hour. This year I'm more like 60 to 65."

He'll have help. Fisher is the team's top returning scorer (13.3 points per game) and distributor (3.9 assists). Classmate Corey Stokes is one of the conference's top three-point shooters. How will Wayns stack up to his elders and predecessors? "Those guys went to Sweet 16s, Elite Eights, Final Fours," he says. "I haven't done any of that." Not yet, but Wayns's history is just beginning.


Coach Jay Wright (10th season)

2009--10 record 25--8

Big East 13--5 (T-2nd)

NCAA tournament Second round


Returning starter


Nov. 12 Bucknell

Nov. 16 Marist*

Nov. 17 BU or GW*

Nov. 20 Lafayette

Dec. 3 Saint Joseph's

Dec. 8 at Penn

Dec. 12 at La Salle

Dec. 18 Delaware

Dec. 22 at Monmouth (N.J.)

Dec. 30 Temple

Jan. 2 Rutgers

Jan. 6 at USF

Jan. 9 Cincinnati

Jan. 12 Louisville

Jan. 15 Maryland

Jan. 17 at Connecticut

Jan. 22 at Syracuse

Jan. 26 at Providence

Jan. 29 Georgetown

Feb. 2 Marquette

Feb. 5 West Virginia

Feb. 9 at Rutgers

Feb. 12 Pittsburgh

Feb. 15 at Seton Hall

Feb. 19 at DePaul

Feb. 21 Syracuse

Feb. 26 St. John's

Feb. 28 at Notre Dame

March 5 at Pittsburgh

*NIT Season Tip-Off (semifinalists play in New York City on Nov. 24 and 26)


With its physical forwards and tight defense, the two-time defending A-10 champion will test the Wildcats three days before Big East play begins. The Owls handed 'Nova its lone nonconference loss last season—a defeat that also denied the Wildcats at least a share of Philly's Big 5 crown for the first time in six years.

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MAALIK WAYNS He has made only one college start, but the Wildcats think Wayns will be the latest guard to star on the Main Line.