With a limited rotation to begin the season, Villanova is counting heavily on a favorable early schedule to help ease things until it can get healthy.
The No. 23 Wildcats play the second game of eight straight in the Philadelphia area on Monday when they host Fordham.
Villanova announced before Friday’s season-opening 78-60 victory over Albany that senior guard Dwayne Anderson was out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left foot. On Nov. 6, senior forward Shane Clark had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He’s expected to miss three-to-six weeks. Ten players saw action in the opener for the Wildcats, but only eight appeared in the game for more than one minute.
“We’ve got to find a way to play with these eight (players),” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
His club, which lost to eventual national champion Kansas in the regional semifinals of last season’s NCAA tournament, seemed ready in its first game. Scottie Reynolds scored all 13 of his points in the second half while Corey Stokes and Dante Cunningham added 13 apiece.
“That’s the definition of our program attitude,” said Reynolds, the team’s leading scorer last season with 15.9 points per game. “Things are going to happen. Adversity is going to strike at some point of the season.”
Antonio Pena added 12 points, and he and Cunningham combined to score 16 of Villanova’s first 18. The two 6-foot-8 forwards will be on the spot early with the Wildcats short-handed.
“We have to keep going back to those guys.” Wright said. “We got a lead and then kind of got away from those guys. We looked away from them and we can’t do that. We have to learn that as a team.”
Wright also made no apologies for the lack of quality opponents early in Villanova’s slate. The Wildcats play five home games and three games at the Palestra before meeting No. 7 Texas on Dec. 9 in New York.
“It just worked out this way with our schedule,” he said. “We struggle with scheduling and for the non-conference games we can’t just bring in whoever we want given the arena we play in. Our schedule gives us a chance to learn a lot about our team.”
Fordham doesn’t figure to provide much of a challenge, especially after its opener. Freshman Jio Fontan had a rough collegiate debut with two points on 1-of-12 shooting in a 65-62 loss to Columbia on Friday.
“What it came down to was Columbia made the tough plays at the end and we didn’t,” Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg said. “I’m disappointed but it’s early in the season and we’re a young team. We’ll learn from this and grow.”
Fontan could eventually be replaced in the lineup by Trey Blue, who set a Fordham record for points by a freshman in his debut with 24 on Friday.
Villanova has won four straight meetings with Fordham to gain an 11-8 advantage in the all-time series.