Last season was different.
Last season Villanova was a projected Top Five team coming off a stunning Final Four run.
Scottie Reynolds was the headline in almost every story, and all the talk was about a "new and improved" Villanova squad. A repeat trip to the Final Four was almost guaranteed according to some reporters and fans.
Yet somewhere along the way, they fell apart. Then came the excuses and attempted explanations for why they couldn't replicate their success.
Lack of leadership? Maybe. Clash between Reynolds and Corey Fisher at the point? Sure. The lack of overall involvement from players not at the guard position? Why not?
All are possibilities, but that doesn't matter. Last season is officially behind them.
With the departure of Scottie Reynolds, expect to see a new team, hopefully one that is able to overcome the defensive problems they faced last year.
However, Scottie's graduation could be a good and a bad thing—good in that they start fresh with a more experienced lineup and another chance to reach the Final Four, but bad in that there are still so many unanswered questions and potential problems.
Scottie may have taken too many shots or stolen Fisher and Maalik Wayns' much deserved minutes, but he did one crucial thing: Score. He had a rare ability to find ways to score when others couldn't.
There were many times last year when he would somehow manage to convert on heavily contested shots or go on personal scoring runs to overcome 17-point deficits (see: Louisville).
Despite a poor finish to his career, the 6'2" guard still netted a total of 2,214 points, finishing in second place on Villanova's all-time scoring list, just 29 points behind Kerry Kittles.
But now that he's gone, which guard do they turn to?
Corey Stokes is too one dimensional of a player to shoulder the load. He’s a dead eye shooter, something Coach Wright has relied on him for these last three years, but not much more. This season, Stokes desperately needs a point guard who can get him the ball on the perimeter.
Maalik Wayns has shown that he has the necessary tools to be an NBA caliber guard. He’s strong, athletic, lightning quick, and has good court vision, but the experience may not be there for him to step into Scottie’s shoes. Give him another year and signs of leadership will begin to appear. But for now he needs a mentor in Fisher and additional scorers to relieve the pressure.
Corey Fisher can certainly score, but the real question is whether he can do it in times of urgency. Last season was by far his most improved, shooting a team best 39.6 percent from beyond the arc with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.9. He may not have the natural instincts that Scottie does, but he is arguably a much better fit for our offense.
Scottie was more of a shoot-first player, so he had some trouble getting teammates involved, thus greatly reducing our offensive fluency. On the other hand, Corey Fisher is a pure point guard who can also get to the rim, allowing us to diversify our scoring and attack from all angles.
While none of these three guys can single-handedly match Scottie’s scoring output, together they should be able to overcome his void.
Teams are more successful when they are well-balanced and possess several different scoring threats. There will be the games where Fisher leads the way and others where Stokes or Wayns catch fire, making us an unusually dangerous team. With Reynolds out of the picture, we won’t have to rely so much on one player.
Instead, we can bask in the triumph of many.