The three freshmen on Villanova's basketball team are fortunate to be able to practice and play with their new teammates right away, thanks to the Wildcats' participation in a Labor Day weekend tournament in Ottawa, Ontario.

But since this is the first week of classes, after four days of freshman orientation, you couldn't blame them if they appeared bewildered by everything.

"It was sensory overload," coach Jay Wright said yesterday. "Their heads were spinning. They had orientation and we're practicing.

"They can watch but they can't be in it, so they're going crazy. Then classes start and they start practicing, and we throw them in there when everybody [else] knows what we're doing. But I'll tell you what, they've handled it very well. Their basketball intelligence is very high."

Freshman guard Corey Fisher called the week "a lot to deal with."

"But that's stuff you have to do when you get to the next level," he said. "So I got my teammates to help me and prepare me for what's going to happen."

The Wildcats leave today for four games in three days against the Canadian college teams Carleton, Queen's and McGill and an all-star team in the NCAA-sanctioned event. Illinois and Alabama also will meet the Canadian squads under the round-robin format.

The Wildcats were allowed to begin practice on Aug. 22, but their freshmen - Fisher and guards Malcolm Grant and Corey Stokes - had to wait until classes started Monday. Still, that's a major head start from where they normally would have been when they couldn't practice until mid-October.

"It's real good for [the freshmen] to be in practice," sophomore guard Scotty Reynolds said. "They get to go hard and understand how we do things. They've been great. They've listened and they've gotten better, and that's all you can ask for."

Wright plans to look more at the freshmen and the second-unit players in the games to see what they can do. He said the practices were even more valuable.

"When we start our individual workouts, the freshmen will have an understanding of why we do what we do," he said. "When you first come in as a freshman and do these drills, you have no clue how that relates to what you're going to do as a team. That's going to be the most beneficial thing for us."

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or