Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Notre Dame Post Game -- Good Enough.

The breakdown by halves...

OpponentNotre Dame 
 Offense Defense

Defensive Adjustments
A first half-second half swap, similar to a number of Wildcat wins early last month (Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, South Florida, etc.). The 'Cats took the measure of Notre Dame in the 1st half, and adjusted the plan on both sides of the ball to pull away in the second half. I have included highlights for this split, including a few numbers, both offensive and defensive for each half. Very few red you ask? True, it was a really good game overall for the Villanova squad. The two teams posted identical efficiencies in the 1st half, but arrived at their respective 96.9 efficiencies (points per 100 possessions) by different routes. Note that Notre Dame scored pretty efficiently (better than their season average), posting an eFG% of 51.9, but they turned the ball over more than their season average (18.2 vs 14.0) and did not get many 2nd chance opportunities. The Irish got to the line more than expected, 42.3, but those FTA opportunities did not translate into a huge advantage. Note Nova's FTM/FGA was 15.6, while Notre Dame's was 19.2 for the half (and a bit worse for the game). Villanova arrived at their 96.9 with an unimpressive eFG% (42.2), but compensated by reducing their turnovers significantly. This might have been the best turnover game for the 'Cats this season.

1. The game plan took Kyle McAlarney completely out of the game. He was 1-1 at the 19:44 mark, and that was his high point for the night. McAlarney would not hit another shot in the 1st half, (going 1-3 in the opening set) and would not take another shot until the 16:44 mark. Kyle went 1-4 in the 2nd half to close out the game with 5 points on 2-7 (1-3, 1-4) and 0-0 shooting.
2. Antonio Pena had 13 very productive minutes, scoring 6 points on 2-4 and 2-2 shooting. He grabbed 3 rebounds (1-2-3), but possibly more importantly, he kept Harangody off the boards. The Irish bf pulled only 7 boards, 4 on offense.
3. Point distributions for the two teams departed from their respective pattern for the season. Villanova usually gets about 50% of their points from 2FGMs, with the other 50% coming from a nearly even divide between FTMs and 3FGMs (lately tilting slightly towards 3FGMs). Against the Irish they just did not get to the line much, but made up for charity line deficit with scoring from near in (a little bit) and beyond the arc (a good deal more). Notre Dame's distribution (2FGM/3FGM/FTM) for the season is 51.0/33.5/15.5. The distribution versus the Wildcats was a skewed 43.3/40.0/16.7 -- near in field goals were not available.
4. The offense went through Cunningham, Clark & Anderson (when the latter two were on the floor). Scottie, Stokes and Fisher stepped back a bit (proportionate to their minutes). Cunningham had a decent night given all the attention he drew. Clark had a very good night, but Anderson & Stokes (and Fisher) struggled. Reynolds scored a team high 25 points, scored very efficiently (eFG% was 91.7, PPWS was 1.78).
5. Corey Fisher had a miserable shooting night. He was also saddled with 4 fouls, 3 in the 1st half alone. Fish did adjust however, something he had trouble doing on those nights last season. He dished 3 assists, had a block and a steal in 20 minutes of play.

Ref Notes
John Cahill, J.D. Collins and John Higgins (not a relation to Tim) whistled the teams for a total of 35 fouls, below the Wildcat's season average for road games, but probably consistent with Notre Dame home games. Notre Dame tends not to foul, nor do they get to the line much. The 'Cats got more foul calls than the Irish, possibly a surprise to Notre Dame fans, but common this season for the 'Cats (Nova got more calls in about half of their away games). Villanova's FTAs were outside of the standard deviation (low), barely noticed given the margin of victory. This was John Higgin's first Villanova assignment this season; Cahill and Collins both have run at least 1 previous Nova game. Villanova has a 5-1 record when those referees were on the crew that called their game.


Pete @ LetsGoNova.com said...

I love the breakdown by halves. I don't know what I did before you started posting the tabs with the colors.

Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, greyCat-

My usual observation about the remarkably detailed quantitative analysis - very impressive....

Of particular interest to me was the outstanding performance in terms of turnovers - we had one/third the number of turnovers that Notre Dame had (15-5 margin...)

You were right to note the strong performance from Pena as well, especially the stuff that didn't immediately show up in the box score - i.e., the offensive rebounds that he did NOT permit ND to pull down... given how little he played against Georgetown on Saturday, the fact that he played really well is a great sign...

(An anomaly - we were outrebounded, slightly, in a road game that we won by 17 points...)

On the foul disparity - you were right to note that usually we get more fouls called in our favor than the opponent, and that the ND fans (especially since most years we're only facing everyone once) probably were not aware of this. The thing that really hurt ND, too, was the fact that they shot just 50% from the line (and we did our usual fine numbers from the stripe...)

Finally, your note about McAlarney being taken out of the game - good note about how few shots he was permitted to take... Over at IBBW, there was a good point praising Redding as the main player who should receive credit for the defensive effort on McAlarney...

As usual, great job... keep it up...

greyCat said...

I started that after the Drexel game back in 2006(?) -- the 'Cats blew a lead at home and I realized that breaking down the box by halves gave me a very good picture of what happened in the second half. Hoya Prospectus also started to do +/- stats for all (most?) conference games, but time constraints (and a bad Hoya season?) have slowed considerably his progress.

That the 'Cats had few turnovers is not surprising -- the Irish defense is apparently not particularly aggressive and does not force TOs. The very small number of Nova TOs is surprising though. The number (5) is the lowest by far all season, and the TO% (turnovers/possessions -- 7.7%) also far surpasses the next nearest game (La Salle at 11.8). I believe Coach Wright called it the best all around game of the season, and by the numbers, he is right.

I also saw Redding on McAlarney for large parts of Reggie's rotation, but as you know, the 'Cats run a "help" defense that switches defenders on screens (if the primary defender cannot run through it...). At various times Dante, Stokes and Anderson also picked up McAlarney. A few other defense notes -- I have seen a little less of the "Flying Wildcat" phenom, as the each member of the rotation is doing a better job of picking up his primary assignment in transition (even when coming out of a press); I have also noticed fewer switches on screens as players are fighting through them better; quicker recovery from a blown assignment (some players are getting caught in switches, but recognize they are on the wrong opponent, spot their primary assignment and get back on coverage...). Compare the West Virginia game to the 2nd Marquette game or this latest Notre Dame game.