Oct. 19, 2007
The Nova Notebook, by Villanova director of media relations Mike Sheridan, appears weekly beginning in September through February with monthly updates in the off-season. In the spotlight this week is sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds.
His resume and credentials were among the most impressive of any freshman entering college in the fall of 2006. A superb senior season at Herndon High School had landed him a place in the McDonald's All-American game and his trophy case overflowed with a variety of prep honors attesting to his ability to produce points on a basketball court.
And, yet, when Scottie Reynolds stepped on to the Pavilion floor for the official start of practice last year, his thoughts were on his teammates. In his role as point guard, he was so determined to create shots for the likes of Curtis Sumpter and Mike Nardi that he often ignored his own looks at the basket.
"Sometimes I would shoot the ball like two or three times in an entire practice," recalls Reynolds now. "Coach (Jay Wright) was on me every day in practice to look for my shot."
He wasn't the only one. The very people whose respect he valued most - then seniors Sumpter, Nardi, Will Sheridan and Will Condon - implored him to be more aggressive in looking to take his own shots.
"All of those guys encouraged me to be assertive at the offensive end of the floor," he says. "They told me that the team needed me to score for us to be the kind of team that we wanted to be. They kept saying `we need you to be on the attack at all times.' I'm thankful that they were willing to do that. They were all selfless and just wanted us to do what's best for the team. When guys who have had the success here that they did tell you that, it's the kind of thing you really appreciate as a player."
The transformation did not come overnight. Through November and December, Reynolds averaged fewer than six field goal attempts a game. He struggled in the BIG EAST opener at West Virginia and then returned home on Jan. 6 for a game against DePaul. With a flu bug taking its toll on Nardi, Sheridan and Shane Clark and Villanova in a double digit hole in the second half, Reynolds seized a moment. He finished with a career high 25 points and made it seem almost effortless.
Though the `Cats dropped that decision to the Blue Demons, they gained a scoring weapon that would be vital to their charge to the NCAA Tournament. Reynolds averaged 18.4 ppg in BIG EAST games, capped off by a memorable 40-point explosion at Connecticut on Feb. 28 that helped wrap up the league's Rookie of the Year award. Following the season, he quickly put aside any talk that he would enter his name into the National Basketball Association draft and announced he would return in 2007-08.
And so it is that his Villanova basketball journey resumes with a new role. He joins juniors Clark, Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson as a team captain this season. Twelve months after hanging on the words of Nardi, he is now the one vocally challenging his new cohorts in the backcourt, Corey Fisher, Malcolm Grant and Corey Stokes.
"It's crazy because I feel like I'm Mike Nardi sometimes," he says. "I hear myself telling these guys the same things he told me over and over again. Mike did a great job of teaching me what it means to be a Villanova guard. Bump (Sheridan) and Curtis taught me how important it is to play every possession hard.
"I try to take something from each one of them. I was just thankful to be part of their team for one season."
Reynolds' first-year success resulted in another opportunity this summer. He was invited to try out for and eventually selected to the 2007 USA Basketball Pan American Games squad that competed in Rio de Janiero in July.
"To be selected to be a part of something where every guy is one of the top players at his position in the country was an accomplishment in itself," he says. "I learned a lot. You have to step out of your comfort zone. A lot of the things I learned here about trying to be vocal, to be a leader, were things I wanted to do there. I feel like I accomplished that."
As Randy Foye had in 2005, Reynolds found himself in the unique position of playing for his collegiate head coach, Wright.
"I really didn't communicate with Coach very much during that time," he states. "I didn't want people to think he was showing favoritism towards me. He was kind of hard on me at times and I understood that. It was very intense. We weren't just out there playing. We were trying to become a team that could compete with the older international teams we would face.
"I think that whole experience showed I have a lot more work to do."
In Rio, Reynolds experienced hills and valleys. He never developed a shooting rhythm and his minutes dropped toward the end of the five game stretch.
"Last year I could get away with more as a freshman," he says. "(In Rio) we were out there playing against men in their late 20's or early 30's and it's different. They know how to play basketball and they are going to take advantage of younger guys when they can. I learned that in the toughest environment you can't lose your composure. You can't let people see you are frustrated.
"It's the same thing at Villanova. You can't let the other team see you down."
When the Wildcats played in Ottawa, Reynolds was sensational, averaging a team high 21.3 ppg in three games. He converted 20-of-27 (.741) of his field goal attempts and was a sizzling 13-of-16 (.813) from beyond the 3-point arc.
This week, Reynolds and his teammates have taken part in two-a-day practice sessions while the university is on semester break.
"I have seen improvement," Reynolds states. "We are a young team and we have to push through fatigue and tough times. When you have a bump in the road, you have to push through that because that is what is going to happen in the season. Everybody in the BIG EAST, everybody in the country is going to be tired. It's how you push through that or when you have a loss or two in a row.
"Our challenge is to push through that and not act like a young team."
For Reynolds, though, the good part is that a year at Villanova has given him a new perspective on what his coaches seek.
"It's different than it was for me at this time last year, on and off the court," he notes. "It's a way of life, a routine. That comes with a lot of responsibility too. You have to be vocal and try to do the right thing. A lot of people are looking at you and you have to work just as hard as you ever have.
"This year is a new challenge for everybody stepping into new roles. Even for the coaches, it's a challenge for them to get this team where it needs to be. The captains take great pride in that. We aren't going to be able to do it the same way as the previous team. We have to do it our way but at the same time do it the Villanova way."