Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Maryland Post Game: Terrapin Adventures

The BB&T Classic
Not exactly an MTE-style tournament, this single round, 4 team, 2 round event has Maryland as the overcard in a lockup with another power conference opponent. Most seasons the Verizon Center functions as a home court for the Terrapins, but once in a while it back fires. Three seasons ago Luke Harangody, then a freshman, teamed with Rob Kurz to lead Notre Dame to victory and back into the national spotlight. After the Colonials of George Washington racked up their 6th win of the season compliments of the Middies of the Naval Academy 81-69, the Turtles and 'Cats took the stage for their bout.

The 1st half was a romp by the Wildcats, everything the 'Cats tried offensively, worked. And worked well. Taking an 11 point lead into the locker room, it seemed Villanova might secure a 20 point win over a team that returned virtually all of the minutes from a squad that went 2 rounds deep into the NCAAs last season. The Terrapins managed to close the gap to single digits, and reclaim 2 of the 11 points they ceded in the 1st half. The margin settled at 9 as the Wildcats won 95-86, closing out the last 2 minutes with a 7 of 9 free throw exhibition.

The Official site has both an AP wire story and the box score and a terrific set of Post-Game Notes by Mike Sheridan. But you already knew that, right? The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Having processed boxscores going back to 2004, these numbers looked oddly familiar, though not from recent games. The "Flying Wildcat" may not have been a physical presence (I don't recall seeing any Villanova defenders go airborn at the 3 point line), but he was there in spirit. Or at least the numbers. Note the orange highlighted numbers for Maryland's 1st half; the high eFG% (shot conversion), high turnover rate and low offensive rebounding rate remind me of the Villanova defenses of 2005-2008, when an opponent's shot efficiency was high, but opportunities were limited by high turnovers and few/no 2nd chances. If the defensive game plan involved shutting down the interior, it did not work as noted by the red (yes they are pretty bad) highlighted conversion rates for both 2 and 3 point attempts. Don't be deceived by the Terrapins' 42.9% conversion rate for 3s. That is equivalent to converting 2s at a 64.4% clip. Ouch.

On the positive side, Villanova controlled the boards on both ends of the floor (note the green highlight), for the entire game. Maryland has several active rebounders (see the next post, a Guest Contribution from CO_HOYA), controlling the boards is a very good sign. Is the game an abberation or a harginger? Looking forward, there are a few Big East teams that can match Maryland's offense, but several will offer stronger rebounding competition (and shot defense) than the Terps. The 2009 edition of the Wildcats was able to post strong rebounding/turnover numbers while also holding down the opposing team's field goal conversion rates. If the defense functions at this level through Big East play and the NCAAs, expect an exit earlier than the 5th or 6th round.

Notes & Observations
1. Scottie Reynolds scored 25 points on 7-18 shooting. He nabbed 5 rebounds (one an offensive rebound) and dished 8 assists. He missed a double-double by 2 assists. Scottie has passed the 1700 point mark for career points, standing in at #12 on Villanova's All-Time list, just ahead of Pitchin' Paul Arizin, one of Villanova's All-Americans.
2. Antonio Pena also missed a double-double by 2 -- 2 points that is. Pena collected 11 rebounds, a very heartening 6 of them on the offensive side, while scoring 8 points on 2-4, 4-8 shooting. A 75% free throw rate would have locked #5 for him.
3. The Two Coreys scored 38 points between them, on identical 6-13 shooting. Corey F. lost a 3 point shooting contest to Corey S., going 4-6 to Corey S.'s 5-11. Fish made it by going to the line 4 times (to Stokes' 1) and sinking all 4 shots. Corey F. logged 20 points to Corey S.'s 18. In an odd turn, Corey F. won the rebounding contest, 4 to 3, while Corey S. won the assist contest, 3 to 2. Expect the unexpected.

Ref Notes
John Cahill, Karl Hess and Michael Stephens refereed the game, all three are familiar to Villanova fans, and each has served on a Villanova zebra crew once before this season. As the first away game this one will be the standard by which the others will be measured. Fouls called were slightly higher than average for this season, but well within the standard deviation for all games. At 47 total fouls, this one is 2nd only to the George Mason whistle-fest down in Puerto Rico.

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