Saturday, November 15, 2008

Post Game: Albany -- At Last!

Villanova opened the 2008-09 season with an eighteen point win over the Great Danes of Albany University last night in the Pavilion on Villanova's campus. Tim over at the Nova News posted a preliminary recap of the game along with the news of the latest casualty in Villanova's war with the injury bug. The Wildcats face the Towson Tigers in their last home game of this football season. The Athletic Department posted their usual AP story about three hours after the game. The story, a servicable though vague recap of the score and major scorers, noted that Villanova won it's season opening game in the Pavilion for the eighteenth straight year. Joe Juliano's report of the game includes a good deal of detail and provides an accurate narrative of the major events at the Pavilion last night. And CBS Sportsline weighed in with a smaller article that took note of the high scorers and the Danes late game run (and Anderson's injury), but not much more. The four factors stats by half...

 Offense Defense

Villanova's first half defense bore all the trademarks of the defense fans have come to recognize as "Villanova Defense" -- high turnover rate coupled with domination on the defensive boards. In truth however, it was something of a Mexican standoff. Villanova held the Danes' 3 big guns, transfer Will Harris, freshman Tony Raffa and sophomore bomber Tim Ambrose to a lackluster 4-12, the reason the Danes' eFG% was so low. In turn, the Danes locked down Scottie as the lead scorer for the Wildcats went 0-3. Scottie's shooting percentage was only half of the story -- note he took a total of 3 FGAs and did not get to the line. Scottie countered however, by dishing out 5 assists, and 'Cat forwards Antonio Pena and Dante Cunningham obliged by scoring 22 points on 10-14 shooting (and 2-4 from the line). Had Villanova sustained that defensive through the second half they would have held Albany to (about) 45 points for the game, just a bit more generous than Northwood. Like Scottie, the Great Danes' triple broke through with a 10-16 shooting effort, good for 23 points. The 'Cats however saw their other defensive elements break down as well -- the Danes were able to snag 40% of their missed shots (good for put backs & second chance attempts), while limiting turnovers to approximately ¼ of their possessions. The second half lapse can, most likely be traced to (over?) confidence. After all, Nova up 40-24 going into the locker room, then blew their lead out to 20 at the 10:56 mark of the second half, saw the Danes rally back to -11 (at 6:29), and then took it back out to the high teens. They spent three of their last 5 offensive possessions trying to set up senior reserve forward Frank Tchuisi for a layup or dunk. Tchuisi finished with 2 points on 1-4 shooting.

Notes & Observations
1. Scoring was fairly evenly distributed -- six Wildcats (Cunningham, Fisher, Pena, Redding, Reynolds and Stokes), including all five starters (Te, Fish, Tone, Scottie and Stokes), scored in double digits. While scoring and possessions were fairly evenly distributed among the six, points ranged from 10 to 13, with three scoring 13, distribution of shots was not. Reynolds (28.8) and Cunningham (23.5) served as the first two options on offense. Cunningham (and Pena) carried the offense in the first half, while Reynolds (along with, to a lesser degree, Redding and Tchuisi...) picked it up in the second half.
2. The abrupt drop in pace from the first to the second half caught my eye. It reminded me of the Drexel game back in 2006. The 'Cats lost that game as the referees facilitated a "Parade of the Dragons" (to the free throw line). Like the Drexel game, last night's game also featured a half-over-half increase of FTARate, but this time the 'Cats were the beneficiaries. Did the increase in fouls work to limit possessions? I looked fairly quickly through data from last season, and it appears there is a weak coorelation. Given that last night's game was not inside of double digits after 12:29 mark of the first half, possession-fouling was not a factor.
3. Corey Stokes & Reggie Redding had particularly efficient scoring nights. Stokes posted a 1.87 PPWS by mixing 2s and 3s with trips to the line. Redding's PPWS was 1.38, second among the double digit scorers. Cunningham & Reynolds, the focal points posted 1.25 and 1.07 respectively. Not a bad night at all.
4. The staff used a 10 man rotation, giving 8 of the 10 double digits minutes. Three players, Cunningham, Fisher and Reynolds, logged 30 minutes.
5. The Big East opened the season with an exclamation point, going 8-0 against OOC competition. The average margin of victory was 18.9(! -- Nova's margin was 18...), with the biggest bully goes to Marquette, who drubbed the Huskies of Houston Baptist (hmmm, where have I heard that name...), by a very inhospitable 31 point margin. Jim Calhoun's UConn Huskies, often criticized for running up the score on obscure opponents, was almost (but not quite) gracious to the Catamounts of Western Carolina, hammering them by only 26 points. Rutgers posted the slimest margin of victory, 2 points, in their win over Marist. The "conference of choice" was the Northeast Conference (NEC), which contributed

Ref Notes
The crew, Tim Clougherty, John Gaffney and Reggie Greenwood, monitored with a fairly light touch. The box can't say whether the players were well behaved, or the zebras were easy going. Compared to last season this had fewer than average number of fouls called. Looking at games from prior seasons in which these three (though not necessarily as a crew...) monitored, this one was pretty consistent with the number of fouls called (though maybe just a bit low for number of free throws). Nothing unusual.

Roster Notes
1. Senior Dwayne Anderson joins fellow senior Shane Clark on the sidelines with a fracture in his right foot. Anderson reportedly complained of pain recently, and moved awkwardly in Nova's exhibition against Northwood last weekend. The injury was identified during a doctor's visit to identify the source of the pain.Anderson becomes the second senior sidelined so far. The staff had indicated the injury is severe and and the prognosis for a return this season is uncertain.
2. Senior Shane Clark, rehabbing from surgery on his right knee, was on the bench in street clothes. He is expected to return in (late) December.
3. Senior Frank Tchuisi, who was DNP versus Northwood, logged 11 minutes last night.
4. Freshman forward/center Maurice Sutton dressed but was DNP last night. Rumors that he will red shirt seem credible given that Sutton was the only player not injured who sat last night.

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