Nova Notebook: Foye Focused On Consistency
Oct. 8, 2004
The Nova Notebook, by Villanova director of media relations Mike Sheridan, appears each Friday beginning in the fall and continues through the basketball season.
To Villanova junior guard Randy Foye, there is only one pertinent individual statistical goal in 2004-05.
"This year," says the native of Newark, N.J., "I want no more than one turnover per game. If I can make it less than one, I'll be even happier."
While others turn their attention to points, rebounds and minutes, Foye figures those items will take care of themselves. Instead, his aim is to offer consistency in all facets of the game as he enters his third year of college basketball.
"Through the whole season I just want to stay focused on just one thing: winning," says the 6-3 guard who was third on the Wildcats in scoring in 2003-04 with a 13.5 ppg scoring average. "I want to stay focused on being consistent with my jump shot and being consistent with the ball.
"Everybody is more experienced than we were last year. Everybody knows what it takes now. We have to come out and be tougher than other teams. We have to do to teams what Connecticut and Pittsburgh did to us: they saw young guys, watched them get off to a fast start and then hit them with a power blow late in the game when it was close."
In the past two seasons, the junior class of which Foye is a prominent member has learned those lessons the old fashioned way: through painful losses. Of Villanova's 17 losses in 2003-04, eight were decided by five points or less. More glaring is the fact that in 12 of those defeats the outcome was very much in doubt at the final television timeout with under four minutes to play.
For Foye, the burden of so many near misses was particularly heavy. It was often he who had the ball in his hands when Villanova undertook its final possession. At Seton Hall, his jumper that would have given the `Cats a lead after an improbable rally he sparked caromed off the rim in the waning seconds. On Feb. 28, his bid to break a tie late in regulation was rejected by national player of the year Emeka Okafor in a 75-74 overtime loss to eventual NCAA champion Connecticut.
By the time Villanova reached the Big East Tournament, Foye could have been excused for wondering if he had somehow offended the basketball gods. In an opening round duel with Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden, the Wildcats had executed well against a Pirate squad destined for the NCAA Tournament. With 18 seconds left in regulation, Villanova trailed 60-59 as Foye prepared to pass the ball to Mike Nardi to begin the `Cats pivotal possession. When Foye released the ball, his eyes grew wide as he watched the result. Seton Hall guard Andre Barrett was pressuring Nardi near midcourt and the two became entangled before falling to the floor. Foye could only watch in horror as his pass was collected by the Hall's Marcus Toney-El who appeared ready to head in for an uncontested dunk. Fortunately for Villanova, Curtis Sumpter sped down the floor and was able to foul Toney-El before the Pirate senior could score. Toney-El then missed both free throws, giving Villanova - and Foye - new life.
"I had just thrown the pass to Mike and Mike fell," Foye says. "I felt that was my fault. I threw the ball before he came off the screen. I should have waited until he was open."
As he headed to the bench during a timeout prior to the final possession, Foye approached head coach Jay Wright.
"As soon as I went to the bench I asked, `Coach, can you give me the ball?'" Foye states. "He said yes and drew up a play right there. I screened down for Allan (Ray) who was the decoy. That usually opens me up because my man helps on the ball. It opened up for me and I went from there."
Foye converted a jumper with 3.6 seconds left on the clock, lifting Villanova to a 61-60 win. In subsequent Big East Tournament games against Providence and UConn, Foye was brilliant, contributing 35 points in the two contests. He also played well in Villanova's two National Invitation Tournament victories.
Through all of the travails, however, Wright was impressed with Foye's will.
"Randy always maintained his confidence in taking the big shot," says Villanova's fourth year head coach. "I know he earned the confidence of his teammates and coaches in those late game situations."
A further basketball tutorial came this summer. Foye was a part of a touring group of collegians that competed in Europe. (His teammate Chris Charles was also on the squad.) It was an 11-day visit that included stops in Amsterdam and Brussels and pitted the club against Division I and II European teams. Among those clubs faced was the Holland professional team that employed Foye's former teammate Gary Buchanan in 2003-04. (Buchanan is no longer with that team.)
"It was different," he says. "Over there it's almost a different game. It's slower but the players are skilled. I was the go-to guy so I couldn't complain. They gave me the ball a lot and I led the team in scoring."
After averaging nearly 19 ppg, Foye yearns to avoid some of the highs and lows that were a part of his first two college seasons.
"There were a lot of ups and downs," he says. "I wasn't very consistent. That was a part of my game at the time.
"I've changed things around. Now I just want to focus totally on giving everything I've got on the court when I'm on the court and be as consistent as I can be."
This season Foye will again be at the center of the Villanova attack. Along with Ray and Nardi, he will be part of a potent three guard offense. That will also place a rebounding burden on Foye, who chipped in nicely with 4.7 rpg as a sophomore. With 63 career starts to his credit, he brings with him a wealth of experience that should serve him well in 2004-05.
As for the turnovers, that is an issue that has plagued the `Cats through their development the past two seasons. Foye led the club in that category and it's not uncommon for guards who handle the ball as much as he does to be in that position. But he realizes that efficient offensive clubs can't be loose with the basketball.
"I really want to keep it below one a game," he says.
It's the one stat he will be paying close attention to when practice begins on Oct. 16 at the Pavilion.
Reservations are still being accepted for the Villanova Men's Basketball Coaching Clinic that will take place Oct. 16-17. The fee is $80 and the event is open to coaches at all levels. Former coach Rollie Massimino will be among those making a presentation and attendees will watch as the Villanova staff begins teaching in the first three official practices of the year.
Those coaches interested in attending can call (610-519-4287) or visit www.villanova.edu/boysbasketballcamps.