Sunday, November 15, 2009

FDU Post Game -- About Last Knight...

The Wildcats opened their 2009-10 campaign with a victory over the Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson Universtiy at the Pavilion on Villanova's campus. The 'Cats showed some jitters and uncertainty in the first half, jumping out to a 10 point lead that threatened to steamroll the Knights. But FDU, with a bit of help from their big man, bfc Alvin Mofunanay, a former St. Joseph's Hawk (boy the Joe's could have used him last night...), who blocked 5 shots, dished 2 assists and grabbed two rebounds as junior pg Terence Grier (and big man Jamil Svrdlik) shot them back into the game. The Wildcats held a one point, 35-34, going into half-time. was first to file with their game recap. The Villanova Viewpoint blogger blames the tentative first half on Friday the 13th. I suspect it had more to do with 2nd fouls called on Reynolds and then Fisher which forced the staff into a rapid-fire substitution pattern that moved the two back court stars in and out with Wayns, Stokes and Cheek. The 'Cats missed 7 field goals attempts after Reynolds' 2nd foul; most likely the the substitutions combined different players that threw the offense out of synch. Chris over at IBBW posted a highlight film uploaded by a tech savvy Nova Nation fan with the promise to post possibly. And the Villanovan Sports blogger posted his recap The Bleacher Report weighed in with a recap as well.

The traditional sources have all weighed in as well. SID Mike Sheridan posted another high quality recap/analysis, while the official website also posted an AP wire story. And there is the boxscore, which I waited until nearly 1:30 this morning to see. But was left with a poor ESPN substitute to ponder before I gave up and went to bed (such is the state of my Friday nights lately). The breakdown by halves

OpponentFairleigh Dickinson 
 Offense Defense

The locker room session at the half must have helped scrape the rust off of the 'Cat offense and defense. 1st half offensive and defensive ratings reflected the nip-and-tuck nature of the contest. Villanova's poor shot efficiency (40.3) was offset by their low turnover rate (11.5) and their propensity to get to the free throw line. Defensively, the Knights converted their shots at what should have been a game leading rate (52.2), but their conversion advantage over the 'Cats was negated by a very high turnover rate (26.0) and extremely poor offensive rebounding (16.7). FDU's lack of board presence, manifest in 2009 continues into 2010 it seems. The 2nd half 22 point explosion was powered by improvements on both sides of the ball. The Wildcat's shot efficiency improved by 14%, even as they continued to hold their turnovers down. An 11% improvement on their offensive boards was significant. If the jump in offensive rating was impressive, their defensive rating improved by a nearly equal amount (25%), traceable to much improved shot defense. Their step back on forcing turnovers and putting the Knights on the free throw line were not enough for the Knights to close the scoring gap.

Notes & Observations
1. The Wildcats rebounded very well on both sides of the ball, for both halves (note the green highlight above). While the Knights have not been particularly good on the boards the past few seasons, the 'Cats, having held them to <20% on their offensive boards with a freshman/transfer heavy front court, have to feel very encouraged.
2. The improvement in the assist rate, 1st to 2nd half, may also account for the overall improvement in the conversion rate for 2 and 3 point field goal attempts (note the green highlighted numbers beside the assist rate, 2 and 3 FG%). The improved conversion rate also raises a cause-effect question with respect to the point mix. Note (deeper yellow highlights) seeming reversal in percentage of points scored from inside and outside the arc. Did improvements in the 2 point conversion rate trigger the shift, or did improvement in 3 point shooting force FDU to reshuffle it's defense (and open up the low post)? FDU's drop off in their block rate (Blk% -- see the yellow highlight) suggest a drop off in the low post defense (and in turn trigger more inside play)?

Roster Notes
1. Isiaih Armwood logged in for a minute (or so) of play near the end of regulation. There were preseason suggestions that Armwood would red shirt this season, but playing during garbage time suggests he may play (and contribute?) this season.

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