Saturday, November 29, 2008

Towson Post Game: Cliches

The Towson announcers must have said it a dozen or more time -- (Towson Coach) Pat Kennedy was going to "take the air out of the ball" to enhance the Tigers' odds of winning. The theory is simple enough; think of the difference between a free throw shooting contest as opposes to a game of HORSE. Control for possessions by giving each contestant an equal (and relatively small) number of opportunities and the less skilled player has a slightly better chance of winning. And that's what Towson tried to do. And from their post game interview, it sounded as if they were pretty happy with the result...

I Bleed Blue and White Blog's Chris was first to press with his reflections on the game. He was ahead of the official web site, so he linked to ESPN sources for the recap and the box score. The Athletic Department's website posted their AP recap shortly after 12:30am. The box score followed at some point after that (I went to bed...).

The Philadelphia media was...objective, as usual. "IN JAY WRIGHT'S tenure at Villanova, Wildcats games generally are not works of art. They are more often than not a test of wills.
No matter the opponent, Villanova will attack on defense to wear down a team and then have enough offensive spurts against tired legs to find a way to win, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot
..." Announced Dick Jerardi, the (resident) dean of Philadelphia sports writers, over at the PDN. His analysis, "Villanova starts off slow, then pulls away...", suggested the 'Cats ran the Tigers down, employing superior athleticism, tight defense and speed to wear down their opponent. He got the defense right. If Towson's legs were tired, it had to be from standing around (see pace below...the lowest this season). An interesting read, and unusual for Jerardi, as he usually does not write about basketball during the weekend. He saves Villanova news for his Monday wrapup column. Of course the A10's Rhode Island will face Villanova tonight, maybe he is there to cover the Rams...The Inky's Joe Juliano's contribution, "Wildcats' defense steps up". Juliano accurately identified the uptick in second half defense, and in a contradiction to Jerardi's assertion that the slow pace was dictated by Towson's multiple zones (the Tigers switched between a 1-3-1 and 2-3 on most defensive stands...), Juliano suggested the 'Cats played uncomfortably faster because of the zones (rushed shots?). The breakdown by halves:

 Offense Defense
eFG%58.743.350.0 41.732.037.3
TORate30.114.422.9 18.524.821.4
OR%33.347.641.7 30.036.433.3
FTA/FGA47.826.735.8 16.736.025.5
ARate90.958.373.9 63.671.466.7
Stl% 12.414.113.2
PPWS1.170.921.03 0.860.650.76

It's the Defense, Again
The Wildcats posted pretty good first half numbers for offense, but taking the game as a whole, the offense was not especially memorable. Note the paradox between the first and second half offensive ratings and eFG%. Even though the shooting efficiency declined, the Wildcat's offensive rating improved. Nova cut their turnovers and took a larger percentage of their offensive boards. An interesting way to get a sense of how important rebounding and turnovers are to the Wildcat offense (the importance of each element is unique to each team). On defense, I thought Villanova might be able to exploit the Tiger's freshman guard (Troy Franklin). It was partially true. Franklin did turn the ball over 3 times in the first half, but took a seat after 13 minutes when he picked up his third foul. He played only 10 minutes of the second half before being DQ'd with his fifth foul. Rather than reach into his bench for his back up point guard (Vernon Carr), Coach Kennedy opted to go taller, brought in Georgetown transfer Josh Thornton, and turned the ball over to Morris and Thornton. They did a passable job for the balance of the half (and the game).

1. Six players (Cunningham, Fisher, Pena, Redding Reynolds and Stokes) logged 70% or more playing time for the first time this season. Looks like the staff is settling into their rotation. Among the six the distribution of time was pretty even, ranging from 70% to 77%.
2. Cunningham and Pena shared their front court offensive responsibilities pretty evenly for a change. Antonio took 18.3% of the possessions and 216% of the shots when he played. For Cunningham those numbers were 17.5% and 20.6% respectively. A good development this early, let's hope they can continue into the Big East season.
3. Scottie and Corey Fisher broke their shooting slumps against the Tigers. Maybe the zone forced them to shoot? Coupled with Cunningham and Pena, the four all scored in double digits. While all were also efficient, Fisher and Reynolds had eFG%s of 62.5 and 72.2 respectively. They logged PPWSs of 1.17 and 1.41 respectively.
4. The Towson front court had problems keeping up with the 'Cats as all four forwards who played, Clark, Cunningham, Pena and Tchuisi had FTA/FGAs of 66.7, 50.0, 80.0 (way to go Antonio!) and 100.0 respectively.

Ref Notes
Jeff Clark, Tom Clougherty and Pat Driscoll ran the game. Thirty total fouls, like the Monmouth game, made this the second low foul game in a row for the Wildcats. The distribution however, favored the Wildcats this time. The Tigers and Wildcats did get to the line more, 33 times versus 26 times in the Monmouth game. This is the second game this season for Clark and Clougherty.

Roster Notes
1. Villanova center Casiem Drummond dressed for the game, but was DNP coach's decision. Rumors abound concerning his status.
2. Dwayne Anderson may resume practice as early as December.

No comments: