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."