Over the past decade I’ll wager that I have been to approximately 1,000 baseball games, but maybe 30 to 40 college basketball games. A long time ago those numbers would have been reversed.
The bad par, of course, is missing out on the terrific ballplayers that came through the Big Five over the past decade. Oh sure, I caught Jameer Nelson just because St. Joe’s was one of the biggest stories of 2004 when they were No. 1 for most of the college season. However, names like Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Dionte Christmas, Pat Carroll, Mardy Collins, Dante Cunningham, David Hawkins , Kyle Lowry, Steven Smith and Curtis Sumpter (amongst other standouts over the last 10 years), get lost in the pile of early-season ballgames.
Fortunately, Scottie Reynolds of Villanova decided to return to Villanova for his last season because it would be a shame to miss out on watching him play.
Reynolds is an undersized guard in a city with a long tradition of great guards. Though he’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, I suspect he’s probably an even 6-foot and maybe a few pounds lighter. However, unlike the traditional Big 5 guard, Reynolds isn’t content to stay in the backcourt in half-court sets and spread the ball around like Howie Evans, Pepe Sanchez or even a shooter like Lynn Greer.
Reynolds will mix it up inside if need be. For instance, even though he scored 12 straight points from the outside in the first half of the 82-77 victory over No. 11 Georgetown at the Wachovia Center on Sunday afternoon, Reynolds’ biggest hoop of the game came with 3:14 left when he knifed to the hoop against three bigger players for a layup and a foul. For good measure he made four straight foul shots to held ice the game with less than 36 seconds remaining.
Reynolds scored 27 points on just 15 shots and 29 minutes in the victory over Georgetown.
“He can’t be contained,” Georgetown’s coach John Thompson III said after the game. “I don't say that in jest. He's too good of an offensive player and they do too good of a job of getting him where he needs to be. It's nothing new. He’s been doing it for four years. What's different is now as a senior, when they need a basket, he ends up with the ball in his hand and good things happen.”
Though he’s a small guard, Reynolds has a game similar to 6-foot-5 Big Five guard, Mark Macon of Temple. The difference, of course, was that Temple relied on Macon to score. In fact, John Chaney, Macon’s college coach, was known to say that he’d rather have Macon take a bad shot than another player to take a good one. That’s how much Macon meant to Temple and Chaney.
But aside from his freshman year in 1988 when Temple was the No. 1 team in the country, Macon didn’t have the supporting cast like Reynolds has had with Villanova. Still, even with teammates destined for the NBA like Foye, Cunningham, Ray and Kyle Lowry, Reynolds should hit the 2,000-point plateau by the end of the month.
Depending upon how far Villanova goes into the NCAA Tournament, Reynolds could flirt with Kerry Kittles’ all-time scoring record (2,243), which is saying something considering all the talent he had to share the ball with.
Still, the best part about Reynolds—and where he is most like Macon—is that he is accountable. Though Chaney would always forgive one of Macon’s hurried shots, the former Owl (now acting head coach at the University of Binghamton) famously pleaded with his coach to yell at him more. Because Chaney leaned on him so much more than the others, Macon thought he should also have to face the music more often, too.
As if anyone has to tell John Chaney to scream at them twice…
Villanova’s coach Jay Wright also forgives a lot of Reynolds’ mistakes for a lot of the same reasons. That attitude works out very well when Reynolds turns in some bad games like the one he had in the Big East Tournament semifinals against Louisville last year where he went 1-for-6 from the field, including 0-for-3 from beyond the three-point arc with six turnovers and just two measly points in 38 minutes.
Prior to that, Reynolds dropped 40 points on Seton Hall only to fall into a funk where it took him four games to match the scoring output of that one game.
“Some games we lose and he looks really bad, but that never affects him. He comes back the next game and makes the same plays,” Wright said last season, marveling at Reynolds’ fearlessness in the face of failure. “That's a great quality to have as an athlete.”
So if you get the chance to catch Reynolds in action (and you’re into that sort of thing), make sure you do it. After all, players like him are seen just a few times a decade.