Saturday, January 10, 2009

Louisville Post Game -- If Only

On a day when the team hit it's season average for free throws, the Wildcats win by 3. On a day when the last man at the free throw line shoots to his season average, the Wildcats win by 2. The Big East regular season schedule just became a bit more difficult as the Wildcats squandered their own sterling defensive effort, shutting down the #90 ranked D1 offense, and squeaking out more offense than the #2 conference defense usually gives up. To lose by a single point. At the line for the win with 0:05 on the clock. With three point-blank shots on the basket, even after the missed FTs. This one left a mark...

While a stunned silence appears to have settled over most of the Nova Blogosphere (or are they still out drinking the memory away? I don't blame the IBBW Blog crew or Pete over at Let's Go Nova...) Tim over at the Nova News Blog has been doing what I have been doing most of the afternoon -- replaying that last 1:30 while applying a million or so shudda/cudda's to the scenario. If you get the impression his very good recap/analysis -- "Nova Loses a Heartbreaker" feels a bit obsessive, just understand that writing can be informative and insightful even as it serves as a form of therapy. And comes through with a brief recap with links and video, "Louisville 61: :60 Villanova". Mike Sheridan has (reliably) posted his post game notes (over at the Official website) managed to find a positive note -- the comeback from 11 down in the second half. And of course there is the posted AP wire story that gives a hat tip to Dante's 21 point day. And the traditional box score, available at Villanova's website.

The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Half Time Adjustments...
The Cardinal's Andre McGee dropped one last 2 on the Wildcats at the half-time buzzer to build their lead back out to 8. Louisville jumped out to a 11 point lead (11-22) before Nova ran off 11 points to knot the score at 22 each. Louisville then replied with another run, this one 12-4, to close out the half. The preview posted a day or so ago noted that shooting efficiency (eFG%) and offensive rebounding rates (OR%) might serve as keys to a win (or loss). The red & green highlighted sections in the table (above) monitor how well Villanova performed in those categories, relative to season-long numbers. The Wildcats posted a terrible shot efficiency and offensive rebounding rate in the first half, McGee's FGM with 0:00 on the clock was a dagger. Without adjustments on offense they would be buried, or so it seemed. The Wildcats actually turned in a credible defensive effort (relative to the number of possessions...) in the first half. The defensive rating, was comparable to their first half versus the Hall Tuesday night (but not as good as their first half against Marquette). The problem was they didn't make their own shots. The second half was a turnaround...on defense -- the Cats actually improved their defense, driving the Ville's points per possession down to .803 (80.3), better even than their first half effort against Marquette. That 8 point deficit was difficult to erase though, given the 'Cats produced only .975 points per possession (97.5). If only they had gone into half time down 6...

1. Dante Cunningham scored the game high 21 points. This is the 8th time Dante has led the team in scoring. If his points were prolific, they were not necessarily efficient, recording an eFG% of 47.4 & a PPWS of 1.00. He did take about 39.8% of the team's shots while he was on the floor (about 90% of the game). The Cardinals prepared for Dante (on the boards anyway) as they shut him off the offensive boards, and limited him to a 13.6% DR% (0-5-5).
2. Antonio Pena scored in double digits (14 points on 4-8, 6-14 shooting) for the 6th time this season. His eFG%, 50.0, was very good, his PPWS, at a less impressive 0.96, reflected his relatively unproductive time on the line (6-14). He grabbed 8 rebounds (3-5), proving yet again that he is the most consistent complement to Dante Cunningham. Pena's OR%/DR% for the game was 9.3/14.3, a bit below his season-long numbers (10.9/19.0), but considering the competition (Williams, E. Clark, Samuels, etc.), not bad.
3. Scottie Reynold's 11 points were efficiently produced, reflecting no doubt, his secondary role (3rd option) in the offense. Scottie's eFG% was 50.0 (tied for best on the team with Pena), though his PPWS, at 1.31 was the best Wildcats today, unusual given his the very large role in the offense that he has often taken this season. Samardo Samuels, with a PPWS of 1.38, was the game best today.
4. Both teams controlled their defensive boards, though Louisville did a slightly better job of it. Cardinal forwards Earl Clark and Terrence Williams posted DR% of 28.7 and 33.1 respectively, Top 15-level performances.
5. The Cardinals are known for their athleticism, characterized by their strong steal and blocking rates, but the Wildcats actually had the better of it today, as the side-by-side comparison in the by-halves splits above demonstrate. I suspect that (for blocks...) Connecticut & Georgetown and (for steals...) Marquette & Seton Hall might compete with Louisville. I was a little surprised to see Villanova do so well.

Ref Notes
JD Collins, Ed Haney and Les Jones ran an "average" home game for Villanova. The Wildcats in particular got to the line a good deal in the 2nd half (see the Wildcat's 91.7 FTA/FGA above). Unfortunately for the Wildcats they were unable to convert consistently -- note the 91.7/50.0 2nd half split and the overall split, 54.7/34.0. The Wildcats are now 2-2 in games run by these guys. This was Ed Haney's first Villanova game this season.


Pete @ said...

Good recap. Thanks for thinking of me. My 2600-word rant is now up!

greyCat said...

I managed to get over to read your commentary Pete...I think the comments at the end (and the tone of your commentary) reflect where the Nova Nation was this weekend (and will be for most of this week?). If the opponent had been UNC (or Pitt?), the fans would have been thrilled with a defensive struggle that went down to the last possession. The problem is that in our heart of hearts most Nova fans believed the Wildcats could take the Cardinals. And despite all of the opportunities they just didn't get it done.