Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fordham Post Game: The Return of Reggie Redding

The Jersey Meadowlands
A vast saltwater estuary, for nearly 400 years settlers along the coast west of New York (or back in the day, New Amsterdam) pondered what to do with the low lying land that stretched along their backdoors, just west of the palisades. An expanse of mucky wetlands that would be incredibly valuable if they "develop" it, the settlers of Hoboken, Jersey City and Newark tried to drain it with canals, build it up with vast amounts of fill dirt (and garbage), built factories and railway yards, all the while calling it "Meadowlands" to conjure visions of pastures, grazing cows and rosey cheeked Dutch milk maids(?). Rather than what they in fact had -- a vast expanses of sea grass, nesting places for migrating birds, an inexhaustible supply of swamp rats and snakes.

The New Jersey Sports Authority, backed by the state, spent the better part of the 1970s & 1980s developing a few thousand acres into a sports complex that included a flat track, football stadium, 20,000 seat sports arena...and indoor ski jump (best not to ask about Xanadu...). Going to the Izod Arena has become something an inconvenience, especially since Seton Hall moved into Newark (and the Rock), and the Nets have fielded such a miserable pro team. Add to the trek up the Turnpike an impending snowstorm, and I have to wonder how many fans, of either Villanova, Fordham or D1 basketball, would show up for this, the "return" game to Villanova & Fordham's home-n-home contract. The attendance records say there were 5,137 fans present, and frankly I thought there might be more than that, closer to 6,500 I thought. 4,000 of that 5,100 had to be of the Nova Nation. The official website has an AP wirestory and the box score. The breakdown by halves.

 Offense Defense

The pace of the 1st half suggested another high-possession, exhibition type game. Both teams seemed to slow it down a bit in the 2nd half, bringing the game more in line with a typical D1 game. Going into the game the Rams, whose 2-6 record came compliments of a smattering of teams from MAAC, American East and NEC (and a MAC team), along with cross-town rival St. John's of the Big East, had developed efficiencies (points per 100 possessions), offensive and defensive, of 86.1 and 99.0 respectively. As the orange highlighted line above shows, the 'Cats exceeded both, exploding for nearly 1.3 points per possession (above their own rating of 1.15) while holding the Rams to 0.78 points per possession (again besting their own defensive efficiency of 0.96). The 1st half defensive numbers were typically Villanova -- high field goal conversion (eFG% at 50.0, PPWS at 1.08), good (but in this game, not great) turnover rate (20.0), control of the boards (OR% at 11.1), while keeping the Rams off the free throw line. The Rams were converting well, but (nearly) every possession did not yield a field goal attempt, and when they missed, they were not likely to get a 2nd chance. The Rams' conversion rates collapsed in the 2nd half (note the green highlighted field goal percentages under defense), which combined with their (even higher) turnover rate, translated (much improved rebounding aside) into a much lower offensive efficiency (61.2).

Notes & Observations
1. Reggie Redding started the game (despite speculation that he would come off the bench in his first game, then start all subsequent games), scored 15 points and was a single rebound shy of a double-double. Redding converted at a very efficient 77.8% (eFG%), logging a 1.37 PPWS, suggesting he converted 3s and free throws. A very good start for the returning senior -- welcome back Reggie.
2. By my very unofficial count Scottie Reynolds surpassed off-guard Gary Buchanan's career output (1799) and assumed the #10 spot on the All-time list. Scottie has 1805 points so far.
3. Corey Fisher scored a very efficient 17 points on 6-9 (3-5, 3-4) and 2-2 shooting. Those numbers translated into an eFG% of 83.3% and a PPWS of 1.56, the best numbers Fish has posted this season. Fisher took 23% of Villanova's shots when he was on the floor, and along with Reynolds (25.6%), Stokes (a very inefficient 28.1%), Pena (20.4%) and Wayns (23.5%) presented a "5 headed" scoring monster (though no more than 4, along with Redding at 19.?%, were on the floor simultaneously) that the Wildcats seem to threaten in any given game.
4. The squad controlled the boards, one of those "four factors" the 'Cats must dominate in if the squad is to succeed.
5. The Villanova-Fordham series, which dates back to 1921, now stands at 13-8 in favor of the Wildcats. Villanova has now won the last 6 and 10 of the last 11 meetings.

Ref Notes
Bill McCarthy and Ed Corbett, familiar faces in season's past, teamed with Jeff Clark to run the game. The teams were whistled for 35 fouls (16 for Fordham and 19 for Villanova), low, but not exceptionally low, for a Wildcat road game this season. The same holds for FTAs -- low, but not the lowest for either the Wildcats as visitors, nor for the host. Villanova's record in Jeff Clark games so far is 2-0.

Ray Floriani Sighting
Ray Floriani was at the game, and kind enough to come up to Section 104 during halftime. We exchanged views about a number of the teams in the A10 and Ray indicated that Jarrod Grasso, Fordham's interim coach really had the Rams motivated. Despite the loss of Jio Fontan Fordham has been competitive in most of their post-Whittenburg games. "Hire him" says Ray. And given Grasso's recruiting record, I agree.

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