Now that Reggie Redding is back on the court, Villanova believes its best basketball is still ahead.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats look for a second straight victory with their senior swingman in the lineup when they host Delaware on Wednesday night.
In his first action since serving a 10-game suspension, Redding had 15 points and nine rebounds in a 96-58 win over Fordham on Saturday.
A key member of the Wildcats’ team that reached the Final Four last season, Redding was suspended by the university following an accident this summer in which his car hit a pedestrian crosswalk sign near campus. He also was charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia following his accident.
With that incident behind him, Redding already provided a spark as Villanova (10-1) bounced back from a 75-65 loss at Temple on Dec. 13.
“Now we have our whole team and we are just going to keep trying to get better,” said guard Corey Fisher, one of three Villanova players with 17 points Saturday.
Without Redding, Villanova beat George Mason, then-No. 18 Dayton and Mississippi to win the Puerto Rico Classic as part of a strong start before stumbling against Temple. Though Redding averaged 7.1 points last season, his versatility on both ends of the floor makes him a valuable contributor to round out coach Jay Wright’s starting lineup.
“He knows every spot,” Wright said of Redding, who averaged 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season. “He can play 2, 3 and 4. He can guard any of those spots and he knows everything we are doing. He is a very unselfish player defensively. He will help someone even if it isn’t his man. He has great instincts defensively and he is a great rebounder.”
With Redding, Fisher (13.4 ppg, 4.5 apg), leading scorer Scottie Reynolds (16.7 ppg) and 6-foot-8 Antonio Pena (13.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg), Villanova should again be a serious contender for the Big East title after going 13-5 to finish fourth in the league last season.
Tuesday’s contest will be the Wildcats’ final tune-up before opening league play at Marquette on Jan. 2. Villanova, averaging 83.4 points on the season after scoring at least 95 in three of its last four contests, is 7-0 all-time against Delaware (3-7).
In the teams’ last meeting, the Wildcats won 72-63 in the first round of the 2000 NIT.
Picked to finish 11th in the 12-team Colonial Athletic Conference, the Blue Hens beat Vermont 56-50 on Sunday for its second victory in three games.
Jawan Carter scored 26 points and Kelvin McNeil added 13 with 13 rebounds to help Delaware improve to 2-3 in true road games.
“I thought the players’ focus was really good, and this is a big step forward,” coach Monte Ross told the Blue Hens’ official Web site.
A 5-11 senior from just outside Philadelphia, Carter is scoring a team-leading 17.6 points per game. He bounced back Sunday after averaging 10.3 on 26.2 percent shooting in his previous four games.
Delaware is facing its first ranked opponent since losing 75-54 to then-No. 10 St. Joseph’s on Dec. 30, 2003.