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Villanova not intimidated by UNC

Wildcats hope team play will offset Heels roster of NBA-bound players

North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough goes up for a dunk as coaches and teammates look on during a practice session on Friday in Detroit.

North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough goes up for a dunk as coaches and teammates look on during a practice session on Friday in Detroit.

DETROIT – North Carolina’s roster is dotted with players likely to see each other in the NBA.

Villanova doesn’t even boast an all Big East first-team selection.

The Wildcats’ projected NBA futures are dim, and three-quarters of the winningest senior class in program history will watch the NBA draft on TV instead of waiting for their names to be called.

The individual talent gap in Saturday night’s Final Four game between Villanova and North Carolina seems about as wide as Ford Field.

The Wildcats (30-7) don’t care if Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington are considered surefire first-rounders.

They advanced to their first Final Four in 24 years on the strength of good old-fashioned teamwork. No big stars, no huge egos, and no horde of scouts heading to Villanova to report back to NBA general managers.

“UNC always has the best talent each year,” Wildcats forward Dwayne Anderson said Friday. “They always have someone who can produce. It’s an advantage for them.”

Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green should join teammates Lawson and Ellington next season in the NBA, and talented freshman big man Ed Davis, who earns comparisons to UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet, is a likely lottery pick if he declares for the draft.

On the other side of the scorer’s table, only Villanova senior forward Dante Cunningham is an NBA hopeful. He’s considered a mid second-rounder, at best, and his 6-foot-8, 230-pound frame could hinder him at the next level.

Junior guard Scottie Reynolds flirted with declaring for the draft after his freshman season, but is a streaky shooter and not enough of a complete point guard (only 3.3 assists per game) to make scouts believe his stock is high enough to bolt Villanova early.

His popularity, if not his draft potential, is soaring at Villanova after his game-winning basket against Pittsburgh propelled the Wildcats to Detroit.

Reynolds said pro prospects don’t matter much this time of year.

“People on this team can stick to their strengths and don’t have to do things they can’t do,” Reynolds said. “It’s about being more committed to staying together, playing hard, playing smart and playing with pride. We’ve been doing that for a while now.”

The Wildcats, the lowest-seeded team left in the tournament, have only two double-digit scorers in their starting lineup while North Carolina has all five starters averaging at least 10 points.

“I don’t think I see a big gap,” Wildcats guard Reggie Redding said. “We have just as much talent as they do and I don’t think people realize that. I don’t think you get this far without having any talented players.”

No one is doubting the Wildcats are a talented group, especially after finishing fourth in a rugged Big East, then knocking off UCLA, Duke and the top-seeded Panthers in the NCAA Tournament.

Cunningham is the solid inside force the Wildcats lacked in their four previous tournaments under coach Jay Wright. Villanova’s pesky guard combination of Reynolds, and top reserves Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes might create a matchup problem.

“Their guards like to get in the lane,” Ellington said. “Coach Wright, he’s usually about his guards making plays.”

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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