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Saturday April 1st

Reynolds' heroics send 'Nova to Detroit

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With less than five seconds remaining in a tied East Regional Championship Villanova's Scottie Reynolds scampered across halfcourt.

Instead of settling for a pull-up from outside he ducked through the lane — easily crossing over Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair in the process.

As his foot hit the free throw line the Wildcat point guard picked up his dribble and threw skyward an improbable floater that sunk.

The game's shining moment the ultimate in clutch plays.

But from Reynolds — well" it's expected.

""He's made a lot of plays like that"" Villanova coach Jay Wright said Monday. One of his great characteristics is he never fears failure.""

This year" as a junior Reynolds has really grown into a flair for the dramatic. Although double-teamed sporadically on the wing the Wildcat point guard still managed 40 points and 31 points against Seton Hall and Providence" respectively — games that both were decided by only four.

""He is a special kid" Wright said. I think any of us in coaching that have any success" we're all doing the same thing.

""Some of us get blessed to have special kids"" and that's what brings you to these unique situations. …

""That's what Scottie Reynolds has been for us.""

But the Wildcats are hardly a one-man show.

When Reynolds penetrates to the hole" a help-side defender generally slides over leaving either Dante Cunningham or Dwayne Anderson wide open.

The two senior frontcourt members are more than adequate from close range — with Cunningham even having a smooth mid-range jumper that's led to a team-high 16.2 points per game.

But with Villanova offensive efficiency is never a question. It was the team's defense that was knocked throughout the year.

As the tournament got underway" those perceptions quickly changed.

""We always just want to play harder than the other team" whatever the situation is" Cunningham said Monday.

We never let what happens in a game or outside of the game affect how we play.""

Against Duke in the Sweet 16" the Wildcats held a usual surefire squad to 26.7 percent shooting — including a miserable 18.5 percent from 3-point range.

Wright's high-octane defense constantly shifts with Cunningham and Anderson as the frustrating catalysts.

Plus with each wing player having the ability to collapse during an opponent's penetration few openings are found.

Reynolds fits the parameters perfectly as does sophomore six-man Corey Fisher and swingman Reggie Redding. Each provides an experienced ball-handler and a constant in-your-face annoyance on defense.

Come crunch time both attributes will prove pivotal. But then again so too will Reynolds. As in the Pittsburgh game" expect No. 1 to get the ball if it's close late.

""He's making a lot of plays that other people are afraid to make"" Wright said.

And he's got a great inner confidence. He really is a special kid. He never seizes to amaze me.""

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