Sunday, November 29, 2009

La Salle Post Game -- Home for the Holidays

Extended Celebrations
A scant 30 minutes after the Wildcat football team vanquished the Cursaders of Holy Cross, 38-28, to move to the quarter final round of the FCS Division Championship, their roundball counterparts tipped off the second leg of their 2010 Big 5 slate. About 2 hours later they too officially vanquished their opponents, the Explorers of La Salle University, 81-63, to run their Big 5 record to 2-0, and their season record to 6-0. On a weekend when the campus student population was depleted, at home no doubt, giving thanks for family and blessings, the men's D1 teams were giving thanks for victories won and thinking no doubt, of games yet to play.

The intrepid bloggers who follow Villanova basketball have begun to post their game stories, largely of the "quick recap" variety. Mike over at filed a 3 paragraph game summary that noted the win was the team's 30th consecutive at the Pavilion. Brian over at IBBW blog filed a set of Brief Post Game Notes which included some 3 point shooting stats, a kudo to Reynolds and Pena as the the Wildcats' high scorers (and a nod to Explorer forward Jerrell Williams who had a monster day on the boards for the city school), along with a note that Taylor King was benched in the 1st half for blowing a rebounding assignment. True this was not a good day for the Cats' front court, but King was benched when he picked up his 2nd foul of the 1st half. David over at Villanovan Sports Blog posted a game recap also. He noted the high scorers, the Explorer's significant rebounding margin and Villanova's significant turnover margin. The official website carries the usual AP wire story, quotes from the post game press conference and the box score. The breakdown by halves.

OpponentLa Salle 
 Offense Defense

You Can't Convert What You Don't Have
Dean Oliver and Ken Pomeroy have written about the "Four Factors" on numerous occasions. Both identify field goal efficiency (eFG%) as the determinant element in a team's profile. Hmmm, you are thinking, hardly a revelation, but when combined with the influence of the other three factors (turnover rate, offensive rebounding percentage and free throw efficiency, identified at TORate, OR% and FTA/FGA respectively in the table above), along with pace (the number of possessions the team gets during the game), can often sketch out a unique "profile", offensively and defensively, of any team in high school or college (or the NBA for that matter...) basketball. Consider the orange highlighted numbers above, all from La Salle's offense (and Villanova's defense). The Explorers went into the locker room at the half down by 8 despite a very respectable field goal conversion rate (eFG%) and domination underneath their basket. Why? The Explorers lost about half (49.5%) of their possessions. Had they lost a still terrible 24.7% of their possessions in the 1st half, all other numbers constant, they would have gone into the locker room with an 8 point lead. A 78.2 efficiency rating would have jumped to a 124.0 rating. The Explorers did cut down on turnovers significanctly in the 2nd half -- note the decline from 49.5 to 21.5 in the table. Their decline in field goal efficiency (54.5 down to 25.7) however, affirms the original point, efficient conversion of field goal attempts is the dominant factor. The Explorers did raise their rating, from 78.2 to 88.2, but they were unable to cut into, much less reverse, the Wildcat lead...defense counts too.

Notes & Observations
1. Mark the day & team, because this was Dominic Cheek's first double digit scoring day as a Wildcat. There will be many, many more as the freshman off guard scored 10 points on 3-6 (0-2, 3-4) and 4-5 shooting. The freshman also grabbed 2 offensive rebounds, had 1 assist along with 2 turnovers and a steal in 23 minutes. Congratulations Dominic!
2. Scottie Reynolds scored 14 points on 5-13 (2-8, 3-5) and 2-2 shooting. With his points today Scottie passed the 1,700 points mark. He passed Curt Sumpter (and Paul Arizin) to take the #12 spot on Villanova's All-time scorers list during the Tip Off Classic last week. Scottie has also accumulated 18 more assists though 6 games this season. He has at 392 career assists, 1 less than Whitey Rigsby, #14 on Villanova's All-time list. Expect Reynolds to pass Rigsby in the Drexel game on Wednesday. Scottie also has 8 more steals this season, giving him 164 total for his career. He passed Dante Cunningham today to take #11 on the list. Expect him to overtake Stewart Granger for #10 in the St. Joseph's game. While Kerry Kittles, Ed Pinckney and Randy Foye are ranked in Villanova's all-time top 10 for steals and points, no player is ranked in the top 10 on the assist, steal and points scored list. If Reynolds stays on pace, he should finish the season among the best 10 on all 3 lists.
3. With 14 points scored, Antonio Pena tied Scottie Reynolds for team-high points. In a season for firsts for Antonio, this is the first time he has scored the team-high in his career.
4. The Villanova front court rotation (Pena, King, Armwood, Sutton and Stokes) were outrebounded badly by their La Salle counterparts (Aric Murray, Jerrell Williams, Terrell Williams and Yves Mekongo) (10-13) 23 to (25-15) 40. Not a good day for the Wildcats.

Ref Notes
Familiar face (to the Nova Nation, if not much of the Big East) John Cahill worked Karl Hess and Mike Roberts on the game. This is a veteran crew whose members (as individuals) worked 14 Villanova games last season (10-4), though today was the first Villanova game for each of them in the 2010 season. The crew whistled the teams for 46 fouls total, giving the squads a collective 68 free throw attempts. That is not the highest total this season (that distinction belongs to the Oglesby/Pollard/Randall team that worked the Mason game), but Cahill & Co. came close. They are now #2 this season.

Roster Notes
1. Freshman Mouphtaou Yarou continues to be evaluated by the coaching & medical staff. He, according to multiple sources, participated in some warmup drills with the team, but dressed in street clothes and sat on the bench for the game. Medical tests, due early next week, should provide guidance to the doctors to determine if he can rejoin the team.
2. According to the Villanovan Sports Blog, senior walk-on guard Jason Colenda has left the team to concentrate on finishing his degree work this year. Best of luck to Jason.
3. Junior bfc Antonio Pena, the starter for all 5 of Villanova's games this season, was benched for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Pena subbed in for Taylor King at the 17 minute mark of the 1st half and scored 14 points, snagged 8 rebounds while recording a block and 3 steals in 33 minutes of play.

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