With Randy Foye in the house Monday, Villanova took command from the outset and made sure there would be no repeat of last month’s overtime upset in Newark, pounding Seton Hall into submission, 80-54. The Wildcats’ No. 9 career leading scorer couldn’t help but be impressed.
"It’s the first chance I’ve seen them in person since they retired my number," said the 31-year-old Foye, currently playing for the Denver Nuggets in his ninth NBA season. "I catch them on TV whenever I can.They definitely remind me of our 2006 team. They’re tough. They’ve got a lot of shooters and a good big man. I think they have what’s necessary to make a make a big (NCAA tournament) run."
Those Wildcats went 28-5, earning the top seed in the East and advancing to the Elite Eight, before being knocked off by eventual champ Florida. These No. 6 Wildcats are now 24-2, off to the best start in school history, having convincingly avenged defeats against Georgetown and now The Hall.
While all five starters reached double figures for Jay Wright’s gang, led by Darrun Hilliard’s 18 points, with Daniel Ochefu adding 11 and pulling down 12 rebounds, the player who caught Foye’s eye the most played only 13 minutes.
"Phil Booth reminds me of myself," said Foyeof the 6-3 freshman from Baltimore, who scored eight while handing out three assists. "I like his long-range shooting and his ability to create from the set offense."
Booth, who banked in a jumper to halt a 9-0 Seton Hall run and trigger a 12-0 Nova outburst to build a 26-13 lead that never dipped lower than 10, was stunned.
"That caught me off-guard," he smiled. "That’s very complimentary coming from a big-time player like that.I only got to see him bits in pieces when he was in college, because I was a lot younger."
But Wright says the comparison has some merit.
"I see a combination of Randy Foye and Allan Ray," he said of the 1-2 punch on that Nova team, which also had current NBA all-star Kyle Lowry. "He’s the same size and does some of the same things as Randy some of Allan’s shooting ability.We’re trying to get him in games because he’s just so efficient, but everyone is playing well. It’s a good problem to have. The kid’s amazing. Any other kid in that situation would be mad about his playing time.But I’ve never had a freshman so efficient in short minutes played. He’s a part of a really good team and he gets it. A lot of kids wouldn’t."
Eventually — probably as soon as next season —Booth figures to get his chance. He's content to wait.
"When I get the call I come in on the fly," said Booth, averaging 5.2 but shooting at a 54.5 percent clip. "My mindset is ‘Defense first. Offense will come.We’ll see how it goes next year."
This year, though, this poised, balanced Villanova team seems like one to avoid, having completed a 5-0 run over the last 12 days to build two-game lead in the Big East. But the Wildcats know better than to look any further ahead than Saturday's game at Marquette.
"You have to fight human nature,’’ conceded Wright, "but these guys have been through it before.If they can stay in one-game-at-a-time we’ll see where we are at the end of the season."
Don’t be shocked if that end of the season doesn’t come until April in Indianapolis.