Thursday, March 13, 2008

Post Game: Syracuse -- And Then It Rained...

I seem to be the last Nova blogger to press this time. Oh well, I have the advantage of seeing what the other wrote (I recommend them all if you get the time -- very good recaps). The Let's Go Nova & I Bleed Blue and White blogs posted recaps and went directly on to a preview of the Hoyas. The Nova News Blog filed a more detailed recap, "Nova Advances in BET Past Syracuse". Tim must feel very good about this game as he hands out awards for performances. The official Athletic Department site posted an AP story about the game, "Villanova Rolls Past Syracuse, 82-63" to go with the official box score. This is the first time I have seen a box score that did not identify the refs. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Syracuse had to be worried going into the locker room at halftime. Despite excellent shot defense against Villanova's offense the 'Cats trailed by only a point. Note Villanova's offensive rating for the first half was only 79.9 -- had they not held Syracuse's offense to 82.6 they would have been down by a dozen. The yellow highlighted stats suggest that Villanova's defense was definitely at work the first half. High turnovers coupled with (low) offensive rebounding suggest that the Orange, despite some very good shooting (note their eFG%, also highlighted, was 54.3) were not putting big numbers on the score board. Indeed, they had 28 points to show for about 34 possessions. For the second half we see the same shift (halftime adjustments?) as in the South Florida and Providence (and to a lesser extent in the Marquette and Louisville games...), that is, Nova contested the shots better even as they eased back on the turnovers and rebounds. Syracuse's rating went up (just under 16 points...), but that was not enough to match Villanova's own offensive adjustments. This is the third consecutive game where Villanova's opponent has been held to less than a point per possession. And the eighth of the last nine opponents who has been held to less than their season average of points per possession. I think the freshmen (and Dwayne Anderson...) are "getting" the defense.

Wildcat fans, especially those who believe the offense can be that productive night after night should be warned that a rating of 150.1 is rare, extremely rare. This was special folks, it is not going to happen against the Hoyas. There is a lot to like about that second half. Note that the FTA/FGA and FTM/FGA are almost the same. The Wildcats were hitting their FTAs. And an eFG of 80.8 is unheard of. There are a few yellow flags in the Wildcat's game, minimized perhaps because of circumstance (and outragiously efficient offense...). The turnovers are one. The 'Cats cannot concede one in four possessions and expect to win consistently. That Syracuse had the same level of turnovers (the percentage is by coincidence identical to Villanova's), so for this game the loss of possession was a wash. When an opponent is that careless with the ball however, the 'Cats would do well to exploit it without returning the favor.

Odds and Ends...
1. Corey Stokes was the second leading scorer for this game, behind Scottie Reynolds. 18 points matches his season high against Connecticut. I was presently surprised (and pleased) to see Corey take it into the lane and to the cup several times. I believe he converted once and got to the line another time. His shooting is rounding into form...just in time. Corey's season long PPWS finally got up to 1.00 with this game. He began the season with a PPWS in the range of 0.65, had a series of disasterous outings (in Orlando) and bottomed out at 0.52 with the LSU game. He has been working his way back from there. After a step back around the St. Joseph's game (it dipped back to 0.78) Corey has managed to improved game-over-game, ever since. Nine consecutive games where his PPWS has not declined.
2. Dwayne Anderson had 14 points and 7 rebounds. Tremendous. Dwayne was the most efficient Villanova scorer with an eFG of 92.9 and a PPWS of 1.87. He only took 12.8% of the shots however (one reason why his efficiency was so high).
3. Scottie Reynolds & Corey Stokes led the way in scoring, both efficiently and in volume. Reynolds had a PPWS of 1.48 with an eFG of 66.7. Both he and Stokes (whose PPWS and eFG were 1.35 and 63.6) accounted for > 25.0% of the shots when they were on the floor. Cunningham and Clark also supplied "starter-type" shooting (both were also around 25.0%). While their scoring was not as efficient as Reynolds and Stokes (their eFGs were in the mid 40s, and their PPWSs were just over 1.00), they hit important shots and did not produce a debilitating drag on the offensive performance.
4. Referee Notes -- The crew was manned by Jim Burr, Curtis Shaw and Michael Stephens. was definitely a mixed bag. Burr and Shaw appear to be (judging by the crews they have worked with previously...) "let 'em play" type referees, while Michael Stephens appears to have worked with more "middle of the road" type crews. Nothing terribly unusual, though Syracuse was a little over 1 standard deviation from the mean low for fouls called in their favor. Villanova is 2-2 with Jim Burr this season, 2-0 with Curtis Shaw and 4-0 with Michael Stephens.

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