Sunday, March 22, 2009

UCLA Post Game -- Then and Now

Pre Game Warmups...
Ben Howland should have known better. He coached Pittsburgh in the Big East for 4 years before heading back out West to take the helm of the storied UCLA program. Howland's period of adjustment at Pittsburgh was maybe 3 games, largely because the bruising, physical style of play he developed at Northern Arizona fit so well with the tone and tenor of the Big East. This style, a boa constrictor-type defense with an efficient but athletic, front court-oriented offense, all run by premier guards is, one assumes, what the powers that be in Westwood wanted when they lured Howland to one of the 5 (or so...) best jobs in D1 ball back in 2004. So why did Darrin Collison, as quoted by Mike Freeman (in his UCLA mea culpa, "Villanova gives UCLA a dose of Philly justice") complain that "I was just talking to the official because I thought they was fouling a little bit too hard..."? Ben Howland played Villanova 4 times going into Saturday's 2nd round game and won 3 of those tilts. His Panthers faced Jay Wright-coached teams twice (2-0) and held a 127-113 scoring edge against those teams.

The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Observations & Notes...
The Executive Summary -- best given by LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke in the story he filed ("Shaken to its core...") -- "Villanova would have won if it had been played in Howland's driveway with Rick Neuheisel refereeing".
1. The 1st half pace, projected over the entire game would have been 68 -- about average for D1, and just below Nova's raw pace (69.0). The 2nd half pace, again projected over the entire game would have been 81.2 -- well above the adjusted pace for either school. The higher pace may also account for the declined in their defensive rating.
2. Good to see the Wildcats got their turnovers under control for the 2nd half. 9.9 might be one of the lowest registered for a half this season, and a bit unusual given the pace increased rather dramatically half-over-half.
3. The scoring as noted in many places, was evenly distributed, with 6 players (Anderson, Cunningham, Fisher, Redding, Reynolds and Stokes) in double figures. The offense however, went through Anderson (24.5), Clark (26.0), Cunningham (27.2) and Stokes (25.8) when they were on the floor. Each took approximately 25% (or more, see parenthesis) of the shots when they were playing. Fisher, Redding and Reynolds were all very efficient with their scoring, but stepped back to give the wings & front court their scoring opportunities. The shot distribution is typical for Cunningham, who has emerged as the offensive force this season, and Stoke's number is close to where he usually comes in, but Anderson's number is more typical of the late season, when Dwayne has stepped in to take more shots than he did earlier in the regular season. Shane's Shot% is a bit distorted given his limited playing time, but definitely unusual. I suspect the staff drew up a gameplan that had the wing/forward spots getting more shots.
4. Among the most efficient with their scoring opportunities -- Corey Fisher (eFG% 64.3/PPWS 1.46), Dante Cunningham (63.6/1.26), Corey Stokes (60.0/1.20), Shane Clark (57.1/1.14) and Reggie Redding (53.6/1.31 -- Reggie went 4-4 from the line).
5. Dante's numbers are amazing. Again. Though Fisher was more efficient, Dante took nearly 30% of the possessions, >27% of the shots, and still managed to convert nearly 2/3s of this opportunities. He is not sneaking up on anyone anymore this season. The Bruins knew he was coming, and they could not stop him.
6. The Class of 2009 became the first class in Villanova history to win 100 games during their run on the Main Line. They broke the Class of 2008's record 96 wins at the end of the regular season (vs Providence), and have since gone on to post a 100-35 (and counting...) record, good for a 74.1% winning percentage.

Ref Notes
John Cahill, D.J. Carstensen & Mike Wood manned the crew for this game. Even noting the "hard fouls", the game was not exceptional for fouls whistled nor free throws taken for Villanova on a neutral court this season. All three have refereed Villanova games, Cahill and Wood in this season. Combined, the Wildcats are 6-1 this season when one of them is in the crew.

Next Up
The third round of the NCAAs (the Sweet Sixteen). The opponent will be Duke, the game to be played in Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden, on Thursday. The NCAA will announce the time.

1 comment:

Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, greyCat-

I remain impressed by your analysis... One specific point:

"Shane's Shot% is a bit distorted given his limited playing time, but definitely unusual. I suspect the staff drew up a gameplan that had the wing/forward spots getting more shots."

I speculate that the fact that - according to the LA Times columnist- Howland refuses to play zone defense, may have played a significant role in why Wright and his staff drew up the gameplan you described above. They were familiar with Howland from his time at Pitt, and may have decided that they could fully attack the zone in the way you describe, figuring that Howland would not be willing to switch defenses... and when Aboya ended up with three fouls in the first half, that really damaged UCLA's ability to defend w/o using zone...

My two cents...