Sunday, February 17, 2008

Post Game: St. John's -- One for the Road

The Nova News blogger is positively giddy about the win last night (Villanova 60-42 over St. John's). So much so that he is handing out awards -- check out his post, "Villanova at St. John's - Awards" if you get a chance, some clever/humorous writing. Indeed the Nova Nation, as suggested by the article at the official Athletic Department website ("Freshmen Corey Stokes Guides Wildcats to Victory", hints that there may still be a good run in the last third of the Big East regular season. The I Bleed Blue and White bloggers posted their recap late this afternoon, "Cats Calm the Storm", also a very upbeat, especially on how the win improves Villanova's chances to make the BET. I am sure that Pete over at the Let's Go Nova blog will file his post game analysis and grades soon as well. Check out his blog for updates. The Inky's Joe Juliano filed a story, "Villanova Shuts Down St. John's in a Rout" over at Amid speculation about both teams going into the game it seems that Villanova at least kept the doubters at bay for another game. Corey Stokes, the freshman assessed with the foul that put GTown's Jon Wallace on the line with 0.1 seconds on the clock last Monday led all Wildcat scorers in the win over St. John's. All that remains to be resolved is the status of Scottie Reynolds' ankle. He turned it midway through the second half and sat for the last 8 or so minutes of the game. The Wildcats jumped out early, took a 31-13 lead into the locker room at halftime, and maintained that cushion throughout the second half. The breakdown...

OpponentSt. John's 
 Offense Defense

Is the team "getting" Coach Wright's defensive system? Or was St. John's terrible on offense? I suspect a little of both frankly. But since Pomeroy projected that the game would be played for 68 possessions per side, with the Johnnies scoring 67 points. The game was played at 62.4 (call it 62...), so the Johnnies, moving along at Pomeroy's adjusted offensive rating, should have scored (about) 60 points. Given they scored 42 points, I believe that Nova's defense can get a good portion of the credit. Villanova, for example, has had difficulty keeping opponents' eFG under 50.0 in Big East play, but this is the third game running where they have managed to do just that. The other defensive markers (note the yellow highlighted stats in the table above), high turnover rate and low offfensive rebounding percentage, are both in place. This was Villanova defense, at least in the first half. The half-over-half declines in those numbers may be due to the margin of victory. Note the 'Cats built the (ultimate) margin of victory in the first half. The margin may also account for the sloppy (offensive) play in the second half. Note the 'Cats had a turnover rate of > 20.0 in the first half (22.6), and that slipped to > 25.0 in the second half.

Odds and Ends...
1. As listed in the Official Post-Game Notes posted at the Athletic Department website, Dwayne Anderson posted his first double-double as a Villanovan. Anerson, in his third straight start scored 11 points (5-12, 1-5, 4-7) and grabbed 10 rebounds (5-5-10) against the Red Storm. Congratulaitons Dwayne, well done.
2. Freshman Corey Stokes scored in double figures for the second time this season (first time was versus Notre Dame, when Corey S. scored 11 points) when he scored a team-leading 13 points on 4-7 (3-5, 1-2) shooting from the floor, coupled with a 2-2 night at the line. Congratulations Corey, nice bounce back.
3. Shane Clark was a DNP last night. A messageboard rumor to have mononucleosis. Given the significant decline in his numbers (offense and defense) over the past month, it is widely believed that the staff has been looking into physical reasons for his lack of energy and stamina. Mono would seem to fit the bill, but as I indicated, it is a rumor and not confirmed by official announcement. In any event I wish Shane the best and a speedy return to his old form.
4. A sure sign the team is turning away from the Take-em Offense may be that assists as a percentage of field goals made is 50.0 or > 50.0 for the third straight game. This has been true for 6 of the past 9 games (notable exceptions are Rutgers -- 22.7, Pittsburgh -- 43.5 and St. Joseph's -- 33.3), a clear departure from the days of Foye, Ray, Nardi and Lowry. The bad news is that the teams assist-to-turnover ratio is a mediocre 1:1.02. Young guards and sloppy post passing I guess.
5. Joe Juliano's 2nd piece on the NYC trip, "Clouds Remain for Red Storm", concentrated on the state of the St. John's program, an especially touchy subject given that this is the centennial year (and the Official Athletic Department website has a few history-related pieces posted). The celebratory pieces draw a stark (embarrassing though unstated) contrast between the Glory Days and the present day status under Norm Roberts. The Johnnies are fighting for the last ticket to the BET, and Roberts has to be feeling the heat. While Juliano hints the fan-base is unhappy, some other signs of possible problems include the absence of long-time and much loved Louie Carnesecca from the Garden last night (I hope this is not age/health related). And rumors that Paul Hewitt, head coach of Georgia Tech (and former Villanova Assistant coach...) is "lined up" to take the St. Johns' position at the end of the season. I have heard a similar rumor about Rick Pitino too. While I don't for a second believe either will come to pass, if I were Roberts I would be nervous.

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