(Philadelphia, PA) - Last season was not the ending the Villanova Wildcats were hoping for. After falling to Marquette in the Big East Tournament and their crushing loss to St. Mary's in the second round of March Madness, Jay Wright,s squad is looking to leave the past in the past.
With their less-than-stellar ending to the season and the inevitable loss of Scottie Reynolds to the NBA, Villanova is now looking for a new on the court leader to help the 'Cats return to their 2009 Final Four form.
Any team that loses the school's second all-time leading scorer is expected to take a step down, but in the case of Villanova, the transition may be quite simple with a new leader and many agree that they will not have to look any further than current guard Corey Fisher.
In 2009-10, the 6'1" Fisher ranked second on the team in scoring (13.3 ppg) and excelled in his defensive development with 42 steals, both ranked a close second to Reynolds.
He has become an offensive prodigy under head coach Jay Wrght taking over the top spot with 129 assists and improved his three-point shooting from a solid .319 in 2008-09 to a team-high .396, all good enough for third-team All-Big East.
Even with Reynolds in the line-up, Fisher began making his own stamp in Villanova history, becoming only the 52nd player all-time to score more then 1,000 for his career and, at times, shined over Reynolds, including standout performances against Maryland, Fordham, and Big 5 rival LaSalle.
One big factor for Fisher's development is the fact that since he became a full-time starter last season, he started 18 games in '08 and 21 games in '07, he averaged over eight-plus more points a game for every 10 minutes of play that was increased.
Fisher will not have to do it alone as he will find a comfortable spot as the primary two guard with the assistance of fellow senior Corey Stokes.
Stokes is coming off a year where he averaged 9.5 ppg shooting 41% from the field in only 36 minutes a game.
It is also important to mention the fact that the 'Cats will have the services of returning senior Antonio Pena, who produced a solid 10 points and seven boards a game and their impressive 2009 freshman class of Maalik Wayns, Isaiah Armwood, and Dominic Cheek will begin to transition into starters, things are looking very positive for the 'Cats.
These all boost the team's stock, especially when you count in the fact they will have a full HEALTHY season from Mouphtaou Yarou, who missed 15 games due to a viral infection and, despite the injury, averaged 10 or more points in three of the team's final six games.
I know its too early to make predictions for the upcoming college basketball season, but with the way Jay Wright prepares his teams and the vast potential and talent coming out of Villanova, this year's squad may be looking more like their 2009 Final Four counterparts and put the memory of 2009-10 in the not to distant past.