Thursday, January 8, 2009

Seton Hall Post Game -- The Rock

The Big East Conference was clear with Seton Hall when the Pirates entered the conference in 1980:  "Get a larger facility!" The Pirates continued to play their exhibitions and a few of their OOC games in Walsh Gym on their South Orange campus, but virtually all conference games were moved to the 20,000 seat arena in the Meadowlands, named at various times after a popular former state Governor, an airline company with a history of settling labor disputes with generous contracts that it would void later with Chapter 7 filings and a clothing manufacturer that favors reptilian monikers for it's sports line. In 2007 the Pirates evacuated coastal marsh in favor of a sports facility in New Jersey's largest city (and the seat of the dioceses which chartered and founded the university), a facility whose corporate sponsor favored a geological formation as it's corporate logo and nickname. Tuesday night was Villanova's first trip to the Pirate's new home. And if the experience was not uniformly exhilarating, the outcome was very satisfying, as the Wildcats came away 89-85 winners in an overtime nail biter.

Chris over at the IBBW Blog was first to his press with his recap/summary, "Nova Survives Hall Scare, Wins in Overtime". Chris' brief recap can be forgiven; he might be the only Nova blogger west of the Mississippi to check in. And posted a brief recap with links and video, "Villanova 89: :85 Seton Hall". Both the Nova News Blog and Mike Sheridan's post game notes (over at the Official website) focus (appropriately) on Scottie Reynolds' second 40 point game, a milestone achieved only 5 other times by Villanovan basketball players. Scottie's game was also noted in the posted AP wire story. And in addition to the traditional box score, available at Villanova's website, CO_HOYA, the blogger over at Hoya Prospectus Blog provides an HD box score modeled on Ken Pomeroy's experiment from the 2007 season. The HD box is quite an achievement, a resource I will use in this and future post game analysis. More on it below and in a following post. Many thanks go out to CO_HOYA for his work on behalf of all Big East teams.

The breakdown by halves...

OpponentSeton Hall 
 Offense Defense

The Way Back...
The first half was a back and forth battle that saw Villanova go up by as much as 7 before the Hall stormed back with a 17-8 run that gave the Pirates a 2 point lead going into the intermission. It could have been worse; a foul by walk-on Matt Cajuste gave Dante Cunningham an opportunity to get two FTMs with the clock stopped. The preview posted earlier this week 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 better shot efficiency than the Pirates in the first half (but below their own season-long average), but their turnover rate (21.3) undermined that advantage. If the first half bore the characteristics of a defensive struggle (though the 'Cats performed below defensive expectations), the second half was another horse race...that Villanova happened to win as they erased that 2 point deficit from the first half. Nova's defensive rating took e a hit from the Pirate's performance in the second half and overtime periods. The first half was a defensive struggle as both squads had trouble scoring consistently. Control of the boards worked well on the offensive side. The team posted some of it's best numbers of the season. Those who noted season-high rebounding numbers for Villanova wings and front court players are not wrong. A stronger effort on the defensive side would have put the Wildcats over the top in regulation. The defensive rebounding percentage (game-long 38.3, second to Texas as the worst of the season).

1. Scottie Reynolds had another career night. Not only was he prolific in his scoring, but very efficient as well, posting an eFG% of 73.5. His PPWS (1.60) reflects in part the terrific night he had at the line, going 15-17 from the charity stripe. The staff recognized the trend during the game, as they put the ball in his hands for each of the Wildcat's last 3 possessions in regulation. The strategy of allowing Scottie to either score or get fouled was not successful as Nova's best scorer went 0-3 from the field and 2-2 from the line, getting 1 (offensive) rebound and committing a turnover. The 'Cats ceded a 5 point lead during that span. Scottie recouped in OT, though he went 0-2 from the field he was 4-4 from the line, assisted Dwayne Anderson's 3 point field goal and grabbed a defensive rebound on a 3 point miss from Jeremy Hazell.
2. Overlooked (except by Mike Sheridan's notes and Nova News) in the hoopla surrounding Scottie's game was Dante Cunningham's sixth double-double of the season, a milestone he achieved (as noted by Nova News...) in the first half. The Hall had no answer for Nova's pf...until the second half. Adjustments saw Dante go 3-11 from the field after the intermission, though he remained the second option on offense.
3. Dwayne Anderson had an outstanding night on the boards, and in posting 9 points, nearly scored his own double-double. Anderson snagged 13 boards (7-8), posting an OR% of 19.4 and a DR% (defensive rebounding rate) of 21.3, both outstanding numbers.
4. Antonio Pena also had a tremendous night on the boards, solidifying his position as the rebounding complement to Cunningham. This night Pena grabbed 19.8% of the defensive rebounds to Cunningham's 13.3% of the offensive boards. Pena also contributed 7 points to the Villanova offense, posting an eFG% of 50.0 (his PPWS, 0.89, was disappointing, but due to a poor, 1-4 perfomance, at the line).
5. The ARate (55.2 for this game -- orange highlights in the table above) provides more evidence that, late second half possessions aside, the "Take 'em" offense is a thing of the past. The assist percentage is actually below Villanova's season-long average (59.1). Season-ending numbers for 2005 and 2006 had Villanova's assist rate at <50.0.

Ref Notes
If the crew's (William Burr, Ed Gaffney & Michael Stephens) combined record (5-0 in Villanova games) might put them in the running for "Most Want to See Run a 'Nova Game", specifics seemed uneven. Overall they called an about average (for a Villanova road game) 38 fouls. The distribution of fouls however, favored the Wildcats, unusual for Nova on the road this season. For Seton Hall however, the FTRate (42.3 game-long, see halves table above) is consistent (a bit below average actually) with Seton Hall's numbers (46.6).

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