Friday, March 13, 2009

Marquette #03 Post Game -- Mirrors

What Just Happened?
When Corey Fisher drove the floor at the end of the 1st half to pop a tear drop as time expired in the first half I don't think there were 4 fans among the 19,000+ in Madison Square Garden (or 2 in the 100k or so fans within hearing distance of an ESPN distribution point) who believed that would be the margin the Wildcats would ride all the way down to the last 96 ticks of the second half. Lazar Hayward hit a 3 point shot to seize the lead, a single point, which Marquette would hold for only another 92 seconds. Funny, it seemed like a year. And the D-Train's lay in on a pass from Redding to tuck the game away...tick...tick. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Half Time Adjustments
If the first half was great offense and great defense, the second half was a mirror opposite. 92.2 was just enough against a second half Marquette offensive onslaught. No red and green this time, the table would look like a bi-polar Christmas card. A few things stood out however...
1. The 'Cats did a pretty good job of limiting turnovers. They stayed below their season average (18.8), an excellent job given Marquette's reputation for forcing turnovers.
2. The pace did shift rather dramatically from half-to-half. The teams were on pace for an 80 possession game in the first 20. But the second half, extended for the entire game, would have put the teams below the D1 average, a pace closer to where the Warriors have been playing since James' injury. The lower pace may well have worked to Marquette's advantage (working for 3 point shots). Consider the problems both teams had getting offensive rebounds. Crashing the defensive boards tends to limit breakout opportunities.

Ref Notes
The crew today was Ed Corbett, Tim Higgins & Gary Prager. About 25 fouls and 43 free throws into the 1st half the Nova Nation (online edition) was wondering if either squad would have enough players to finish the game. The crew was "on pace" for a record-setting (for Villanova games in 2009...) game. Was it better behavior? Or were they winded? When the 'Cats win the fans (Villanova's fans) do not take much time to speculate. Corbett, Higgins and Prager called only 18 more fouls in the second set, sending the squads to the line another 23 times. The 12 FTA differential favored the Warriors, and they seized the opportunity by hitting an uncharacteristic 84.6% of their FTs. The total number of fouls was not unusual for a Villanova game (even on a neutral court), though the 'Cats are used to getting a higher proportion of the calls. It was the Warriors who posted the FTRate edge, 81.3 to (Nova's) 47.4. The number of FTAs for Marquette (39) was above the standard deviation for opponent's FTAs on a neutral floor. This was Gary Prager's first Wildcat game in 2009; Higgins and Corbett both have run 9 other Villanova games this season, the 'Cats are 4-1 when (at least) one of them (Corbett or Higgins) is in the crew.

Next Up
The Big East semi-final, versus Louisville. The Cardinals are the BET's #1 seed by virtue of their tie breaking win over West Virginia in the last weekend of the season.

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