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March 7, 2007

Reynolds lifts Villanova to brink of NCAAs

If Villanova makes it to the NCAA Tournament next week, it may be because the Wildcats lost at home to DePaul in January.

It was during that game that point guard Scottie Reynolds ceased being a timid freshman and started to become an on-court leader for the Wildcats.

As DePaul built a 14-point first-half lead, Villanova and Reynolds played with more desperation. More and more, the ball went into the hands of Reynolds. He responded with 17 points, including five 3-pointers, in the second half.

Villanova lost the game 73-65, but Reynolds scored 25 points.

"We had been trying to impress upon him our need for him to do that," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "In that game when he did it, it was too little too late. But what it enabled for us to do is to say, 'Look we all know what you're capable of. You know it and your teammates support you in this.' I think after the game he got comfortable being more of a scoring threat."

The change caused plenty of discomfort to the rest of the Big East.

He scored a career-high 40 points in a 78-74 win over Connecticut in Storrs. It was the most anyone had scored against the Huskies at Gampel Pavilion. The Herndon, Va., native followed that with 22 points in a 78-75 win over Syracuse at home. He was 18 of 44 from the field in those two games.

For his efforts this week, Rivals.com named him our National Freshman of the Week.

Reynolds was a unanimous pick by league coaches on the All-Big East freshman team while being named to Rivals.com All-Big East second team.

Without the breakout against DePaul, though, Reynolds may not have reached this point. That game was the first of 11 times he led Villanova in scoring. He entered the game averaging 9.2 points per game. He's doubled that figure since.

And Villanova, 10-6 after the DePaul game, is 11-3 since.

In the eyes of his coach, Reynolds' comfort level and scoring puts him alongside Texas freshman Kevin Durant and Ohio State freshman Greg Oden in his value to his team.

"We certainly feel that way," Wright said. "I don't know if physically he's on a level with those guys, but the impact he has had on our team and program and the numbers he's put up, he's up there."

Among other nominees for Freshman of the Week:

Georgia Tech point guard Javaris Crittenton had back-to-back double-doubles in key wins for the Yellow Jackets over North Carolina and Boston College. Crittenton had 13 points and 11 assists against the Tar Heels and 16 points and 10 assists against the Eagles. Freshman teammate Thaddeus Young scored 25 points against North Carolina and 10 against BC.

Freshman of the Week
Players named Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week from the 2006-2007 season.
Jan. 1-7: Kevin Durant, Texas
Jan. 8-14: Kevin Durant, Texas
Jan. 15-21: Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Jan. 22-28: Brook Lopez, Stanford
Jan. 29-Feb. 4: Kevin Durant, Texas
Feb. 5-11: Brandan Wright, North Carolina
Feb. 12-18: Brook Lopez, Stanford
Feb. 19-25: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Texas forward Kevin Durant picked up his third consecutive 30-point game with 32 points and nine rebounds in the 90-86 loss to Kansas on Saturday. He also scored 30 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a 98-96 double-overtime win over Texas A&M on Feb. 28.

Arkansas forward Patrick Beverley scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds in an 82-67 win at Vanderbilt on Saturday to hand the Commodores their first SEC home loss. Beverley scored 10 points on Feb. 28 against Mississippi State.

Seton Hall guard Eugene Harvey scored 24 points with four assists in a loss to Cincinnati and scored 16 points with six assists in loss to Louisville.

Davidson guard Stephen Curry averaged 26.3 points per game in three games in the Southern Conference tournament to secure an NCAA Tournament bid for the Wildcats.



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