Tomorrow afternoon at the Meadowlands, eighth-ranked Villanova (9-1) - coming off a 10-point loss at Temple - will play Fordham (2-6). It is the team's first game with senior guard Reggie Redding, who was suspended by the university for the first semester for an on-campus incident last summer that violated the student code of conduct.
Last season, the St. Joseph's Prep product averaged 7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3 assists in almost 29 minutes a game.
"I think it's really going to help [senior] Scottie Reynolds with his leadership," said coach Jay Wright. "Our kids look to [Redding] as a leader, every day in practice. Now that he's on the floor [for games], I think it brings everybody to another level.
"We missed him a lot. But I have to say we learned a lot about a lot of the [new] guys, which is one of the things we hoped would come out of this. We know we're just as close to being 6-4 as we are 9-1, so we feel like we got a little lucky out there [without him].
"Our young guys got a lot of playing time. Now we bring back a veteran. Hopefully down the stretch that makes us better. I think initially we'll bring him off the bench, then just see how we play. It was tough trying to define a rotation with these 10 games, knowing we were going to have him back and knowing he's going to play. I didn't want to get locked into anything."
Redding, who wasn't on the cover of the media guide and missed all four Big 5 games, was allowed to practice through all this.
"He's dying," Wright acknowledged. "As soon as the game's over, he's texting me with what he sees. He's a Philly kid. He talked to the other guys about those [city series] games. It's difficult, when you don't have a guy like that in those games. The same thing with the Big East. He's played in big-time situations. With him on the court and Scottie and a couple of our younger guys, it should be different."
The Wildcats' next home game is Wednesday, against Delaware. That's also their last nonconference game. The Big East opener is once again at Marquette, on Jan. 2.