Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Post Game: Cincinnati -- Gimme an O...

Try to catch the recap/evaluation, "Bearcats Claw Past Nova at the Let's Go Nova Blog, or the official recap, "Late Cincinnati 3-Pointer Dooms Wildcats" over at Villanova's Official Website. These appear to be the only partisan post games, as a strange quiet has descended on the Nova Nation this week. Maybe there are a few (like me...) befuddled Wildcat bloggers trying to figure out just what happened last Saturday in Cincinnati. Or maybe the available contingent of bloggers is depleted because the student body is on break. I decided to go ahead and break down the box score, and see if there is something beyond the usual finger pointing at work here. Aside from the usual defensive woes out at the three point line (the Bearcats went 4-9 in the second half) and unusual (but very understandable) rebounding breakdowns (on the offensive side in the first half, and the defensive side in the second half...see below), there were one or two other nuggets for each team going forward:

Offense Defense
1st 2ndTotal1st2ndTotal

After I had posted my preview and was looking around at the other blogs and messageboards I teased a Cincinnati factoid out of Ken Pomeroy's Cincinnati Game Plan page. If you use the link I have provided to go to the page and left click on the "Eff" column under Defense, you can see it yourself. There are only a few bright line variables when trying to analyze a team's performance, but Cincinnati has a pretty obvious one. In those games (I am excluding the Villanova and Notre Dame results as they were both post Saturday morning...) where Cincinnati gives up more than one point per possession they go 0-6 and conversely, in those games where they hold opponents to less than a point per possession they are (were...) 7-2. The two results since last Saturday merely emphasize the point. Villanova's offense generated 0.975 points per possession (66 points in 67 possessions...), while Notre Dame's offense generated 1.2 points per possession (91 points in 75 possessions). Cincinnati's offense is not going to consistently and efficiently generate points, so the Bearcat's fate will hang on their defense. This of course is muddled in a mediocre record that has, after stumbling out of the gate, circled 0.500 for most of the season. I felt very confident when I saw this, because there are very few nights when the Wildcat offense cannot put at least one point per possession on the board. As luck would have it Saturday was one of those nights. Why it happened is another, more complicated question. Looking at the individual team members using efficiency stats can be helpful...

Rounding up the usual suspects yields a very incomplete analysis that can support some misleading conclusions. Scottie, as most have noted, broke out of his slump in a very big way. But aside from scoring a lot of points (32 of them...), he did it very efficiently. His eFG for the game was a rather high 61.4, as compared to his season-long eFG of 51.2. His PPWS for the game was 1.22, again higher than his seasonal PPWS of 1.11. Shane Clark, Dwayne Anderson and Antonio Pena all had comparable statistics (eFGs -- Anderson 66.7 & 55.0; Clark 75.0, 57.5; Pena 71.4, 57.8). These players were efficient, but they get considerably fewer possessions (opportunities to score) than a number of other players (Cunningham, Fisher, Grant, Stokes). For Cunningham and Grant, the field goal efficiency (eFG) stats for this game are painful -- Cunningham was 0. His average was 53.1. Grant was also 0. His seasona-long eFG going in was 63.9. While with Grant (and Fisher, whose numbers respectively were 39.3 and 50.4) the inclination is to chalk the game up to freshman inconsistency, the case for Cunningham is puzzling. Bearcat head coach Mick Cronin had told the Cincinnati newspapers (and parctically anyone who would listen) that the Bearcat gameplan was to shut down Dante. Someone in Philadelphia was not paying attention. Cronin's plan worked. No Wildcat got an offensive rebound in the first half. Cunningham is a Top 200 rebounder on the offensive glass, per Ken Pomeroy's Villanova Scout Page. And gamelong, no one from the usually reliable stable of prolific shooters/scorers (Fisher, Grant, Redding, Cunningham) stepped up to join Reynolds (and Anderson, Clark, Pena) to put in the needed points. The question as to why Anderson, Clark or Pena did not provide the additional scoring is fairly obvious -- each has had, over the course of this season, a minor role in the offense. They are third/fourth options for scoring, consistent with Villanova's backcourt-heavy offense. The development this season has been the expanded roles for Cunningham (at 19-20% of the possessions and shots he is getting "starter-level" touches) and, when he is in the line up, Drummond.

1 comment: said...

Most people look at the score of the game and get happy or sad. Not you- and is thankful for that.

Another great job on a game recap.