LAST SEASON: 23-14; lost to Georgia Tech in NCAA second round.
GOODBYE TO: Forward Harold Pressley; center Chuck Everson; guard Dwight Wilbur.
INTRODUCING: Freshmen 7'2" Tom Greis and 6'10" forward Barry Bekkedam.
SUPPORTING CAST: Guard Harold Jensen; forward Mark Plansky.
SEE YOU IN THE SUPERDOME IF: Either of the two new big guys contributes quickly and opponents continue to underestimate what Rollie Massimino can do with talent.
How generous is the du Pont family? First, they invented Delaware so succeeding generations of du Ponts could find careers in government. Now they're attempting to give us a President: Pierre (Pete) du Pont. In between they donated most of the funds for a nifty new field house at Villanova. And you wonder why coach Rollie Massimino runs on so much about chemistry.
"I like this bunch. I like their chemistry," says Massimino, who wrung a remarkable 23-14 season out of the post-'85 NCAA title hangover. He continues: "They're really kind of a special group. It's just the kind of people they are." When he goes on like this, Massimino can make Pa Walton sound like Vlad the Impaler. That the verbosity works is Massimino's greatest gift.
"I watched those guys when they won the title," says Doug West, the 6'6" sophomore shooter. "You could see how much they cared about each other. When I came here, the older guys told me about it, and I accepted it, and then I learned it on my own. Now I'm teaching it to the new guys. There's a lot here that you have to accept on faith from each other." Some things are more than a matter of faith. There is also the matter of talent.
Senior Harold Jensen will square up from the wing and stick the jumper that he found forever against Georgetown in the '85 final—and this season they'll be worth three points. And skittery Kenny Wilson will go hip-hop through defenses. And the Wildcats will continue to put the opposition, not to mention themselves, through the entire defensive syllabus. As proof of that, both center Wyatt Maker (right knee) and freshman Rodney Taylor (broken left foot) missed several weeks of preseason practice.
West will be the critical element, though, the player with whom Massimino will attempt to replace the versatile Harold Pressley, who would go inside against Patrick Ewing on Saturday and break the Boston College press on Tuesday. "Douglas is very smooth," says the coach. "He's going to have to be the small forward, and an all-around perimeter player." West did not come out of Altoona, Pa., unnoticed. In fact his career at Villanova had barely begun when he supposedly told a reporter that a Pittsburgh trustee had offered him money to go there (the trustee denied West's claim). The story caused something of a firestorm in the Big East. "It's over now," says West. "I think it's behind me. But I learned a lot from it." Gradually West's game blossomed. He wound up averaging 10.2 points per game, and his 51.5% shooting was the second best among 'Nova regulars. Among other things, he found himself comfortable as a long-range shooter, although Massimino professes no great love for the three-point shot. "We're not going to do anything different for that shot," he rasps. Last summer West played very well at the U.S. Olympic Festival. "I was mature, and it showed in the way I played," he says. "I was able to blend in better with my teammates."