Sunday, March 9, 2008

Post Game: Providence -- Closing Out

The lights are still out over at the Let's Go Nova & I Bleed Blue and White blogs [Wait, it looks as if Mark is back...], even as Tim over at Nova News filed his recap, "Nova Ends Regular Season with Win Over Providence". Tim covers the highlight of the game and provides a capsule update on many of the non-starters. Be sure to get over to read his comments about Dwayne Anderson, one of several players whose play has keyed the team's revival in the "post slump" phase of the season. The Inquirer's Joe Juliano, also made Dwayne Anderson's contributions the focus of the story he filed for the 3/9/08 edition of the Inquirer, "Anderson Dominates as Villanova Puts Away Providence" over at Given that Villanova is the only local (to Philadelphia...) D1 team with any chance to pull in an at-large bid to the NCAAs, it is I guess, understandable that Philadelphia's Big Media basketball beat writers are out in full force, engaging in their best efforts at boosterism. The PDN's Mike Kern filed a scintillating story, "Penn can’t stop Cornell’s march toward perfection" on Penn's byjustthismuch effort to spoil Cornell's run through the Ivy League. The Big Red secured the Ivy's automatic bid last week, but that did not stop Kern from scribing the blow-by-blow on the Quaker's (11-18, 6-6) furious bid to close a 10 point deficit in the last 33 seconds. And sympathize with Coach Miller's distress over a controversial no call on the bumps Tyler Bernardini sustained as he tried to sink his third straight trey at 2.9 seconds to seal the Quaker's role as official spoiler. For any Big Red fans who wandered over here by accident, congratulations on the team's achievements, and good luck against Princeton next week (last opponent standing between Cornell and a 14-0 Ivy record). The rest of the PDN staff filed stories on the Temple-La Salle game for the 2nd seed in the A10 Tournament, the St. Joseph's - Dayton game which may well have kept the Hawk's chances of an at-large bid alive (condolences to any Hawks fans who wandered over, it appears the Joe's will have to run the table at the A10 Tournament and grab the automatic bid if they want to dance this season...), and horse racing. Yeah, I know that Jerardi will cover basketball on Monday. I can't wait to read what he says. The official Athletic Department site posted an AP story about the game, "Villanova Keeps Tournament Hopes Alive..." to go with the official box score. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

The Friar's first half numbers have all of the earmarks of Villanova's defense (see yellow highlight) -- high turnovers coupled with low offensive rebounding. Villanova's frontline (Cunningham, Pena, Anderson and Clark), while a bit undersized compared to the Friars (Hanke, Kale, McDermott) managed to control the boards and limit the Friars' second chance opportunities to less than 3 in 10. An eFG% of 50.0 (or better) would under most circumstances signal a Rating of 100.0 or better. Note the effect of high turnovers (and low offensive rebounds) had on that rating. Controlling for rebounds (see the second half numbers for the Friars), note how reducing turnovers pushed their rating higher. It appears that Coach Welsh identified all of the right adjustments for the second half, and the Friars appeared (by the numbers) to have implemented most of them. Note in particular the increase in pace, half-over-half. The bump is consistent with the team that is down trying to obtain more scoring opportunities. Note also the Friars were able to garner a larger share of their offensive rebounds. But the Villanova staff also made half-time adjustments, and the squad managed to hold off the Friars in the second half.

Notice how the Wildcats' offensive rating (blue highlight) improved half-over-half, despite declining numbers in their eFG, turnover rate and offensive rebounding (all highlighted in green). This type of improvement has been rare this season for the Wildcats. Friar fouls, discussed in more detail in the Referee Notes below (and highlighted in blue), clearly powered the increase. The 'Cats had more FTAs (24) than FGAs (21). Fans may point to missed open 3s for the Friars (much as they did with the Bulls earlier), but Providence was playing on their home court, and came into the game with a very strong Offensive Rating (per Ken Pomeroy's Providence Scout Page) of 106.2 (raw). The 'Cats held the Friars to a rating of 90.1, well below their average. This makes 7 of the last 8 opponents (the exception is Marquette) that Villanova has held below their raw offensive rating. The defense may be finally coming around...just in time.

Odds and Ends...
1. Dwayne Anderson matched his season high of 17 points and recorded his second double-double in his nine starts. The Wildcats are 6-3 in Dwayne's 9 starts. Anderson has averaged 10.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game over that run. His PPWS is 1.16 and his eFG a very strong 56.3. Opponents will have to factor his role into their game plans.
2. Shane Clark had his second consecutive double digit scoring night, though late game fouls more than shooting from the floor fueled his total. Shane was 8-8 from the line to go with a 1-3 shooting night. His eFG is 49.3, coming up from a valley that bottomed out at 48.1 in the West Virginia game. He rebounded to his season average of 4 (4.3), another good sign that things may be turning around for him.
3. While the Coreys did not log unusually large numbers of minutes, they continue to exert significant influence on the offense when they are on the court. Fisher took 26.7% of the shots when he was on the floor, while Stokes took a whopping 41.9% of the team's shots when he was in. Fortunately both were also efficient scorers, as Fisher's eFG was 60.0 and Stoke's was 59.1. As for their individual PPWSs, Fisher -- 1.20, Stokes -- 1.18. A good scoring night for both as Fisher scored 6 points and Stokes scored 13 (second highest for the team, behind Dwayne Anderson).
4. Referee Notes -- The crew, Jeff Clark, Ed Corbett and Frank Scagliotta are definitely from the "Let 'em Play" camp. While the number of fouls called on Nova was well below average for an away game, the number of fouls called on Providence was actually about average for the home team on Nova's away games. The number of free throw attempts for Villanova was well above average due, no doubt, to PC's foul-for-possession strategy at the end of the game. The Friars committed eight fouls, about 57.1% of their second half fouls, in the last 2:49 of the game. To that point in the half, the 'Cats and Friars were about even in fouling. The 'Cats exploited the Friar's need for possession and sealed the win by going 14 of 16 from the line, thereby pushing their margin from +5 to +10. All three had worked Villanova games this year. The 'Cats have gone 3-0 when Jeff Clark is on the crew, 3-0 when Frank Scagliotta is reffing and a whopping 5-1 when Ed Corbett has a whistle. Maybe JW should put Corbett on his Christmas card list.

1 comment:

Pete said...

Great analysis, GC... Lights are back on at LGN and I've linked to this post. You always beat me to the draw on these weekend games.