Friday, March 20, 2009

American U Post Game -- Hunter & Hunted

Home Game? Riiiight...
Dwayne Anderson took Cunningham's pass at the top of the key, just beyond the arc and promptly dropped a 3 on the American University Eagles. The next trip down the court again took a 3FGA, but missed. Cunningham however, grabbed the loose ball and put it back. 5-0 'Cats. Four more trips (2 turnovers, another 3 by Anderson and 2FTs by Cunningham, 5 more points and a score of 10-5, and only 3 minutes in. The Wildcats were on schedule for a 78 possession game with the 'Cats scoring 130 points. Too good to be true...a bit too easy maybe. The Eagles exhaled, shook the nerves out and took off on a 36-21 run to make the last 17 minutes of the first half seem like another game from another time. And the hometown favorites went into the break down 10. The breakdown by halves...

OpponentAmerican U 
 Offense Defense

Half Time Adjustments
The numbers seem vaguely familiar to me, so I leafed back through some half-time splits from earlier games. I did not have to go back far, about one game as a matter of fact: change "American U" to "Louisville", "Offense" to "Defense" and "Defense" to "Offense". And there it is, Villanova's 2 BET games...from the perspective of Louisville (or Marquette, only a little short at the end). I will again resist inking up the table, except to note the efficiency paradox in Nova's 1st half offense, and the role played by fouls in the second half. The Wildcats had a much better eFG% in the first half than the second (note the orange highlights under 1st half Offense & Defense), but were down at the break by 10. Turnovers (see red...) were the key. The 'Cats lost 1 in 3 possessions, effectively leaving 1/3 of their scoring opportunities on the table. Had they forced an equal number of Eagle turnovers they would have negated the deficiency, but the Eagle TORate (12.4) was more like 1/8, not 1/3. About 46% of the Wildcat turnovers were forced.

Villanova's 2nd half surge was not just on the offensive side, but (note the table) they effectively clamped down on American's offense too. The scoring gap, 49-26 was reminiscent of the gap in Nova's two BET games, and for much the same reasons -- significant improvements in rebounding (both ends of the court), turnovers (reduction in their own, increase in American's) and getting to the line (offensively). The Wildcats had 26 FTAs and 27 FGAs in the 2nd half, a 96.3 FTRate -- they hit at a 92.3% clip, yielding a FTMRate of 88.9, not only making their conversion rate very good (>90% as noted before),but also making a huge contribution (49%) to the Wildcat's 2nd half point total. Overall the additional free throws, combined with cutting back on the 3s in the 2nd half put the charity stripe contribution at nearly 1/3 of Villanova's points, possibly the highest of the season.

Ref Notes
Ed Edsall, Joe Lindsay, William McCarthy ran the crew for this game. While all three have run Villanova games in prior seasons, this was Edsall's first of the 2009 season. While the number of FTAs was consistent with Villanova's performance on a neutral court this season, 8 total free throws for American is not; it is well below the range set by the standard deviation. While American plays a fairly passive (POT...) style offense this Eagle's FTRate (8.1 for the game) was low even for them. Looking at secondary indicators (50% 3s/2s, 20% offensive rebound rate, 2% block rate, 11.5% steal rate), the total FTAs may not be inconsistent with the even more outside-oriented play. The 'Cats are 5-0 when a member of this this crew was refereeing.

Next Up
The second round of the NCAAs. The opponent will be UCLA and the game time Saturday scheduled for 1:05pm.

1 comment:

Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, greyCat-

Great quantitative analysis, as always...

It was particularly good that you noted the number of free throws that Villanova shot in the second half, and the role that it played in helping the comeback...

It was also insightful to describe the parallel between the two Big East tournament games, in terms of the wide dichotomy between the Wildcats' performance in both halves...