Friday, December 11, 2009

Saint Joseph's Post Game: Holy Cow!

'Cats, Hawks...and Zebras
The fans attending the game at the historic Palestra were assured early on that the referees had brought their whistles to the game. The crew flagged the teams collectively for 19 fouls in the 1st half alone. Following common wisdom, Coach Wright pulled players who were whistled for 2 fouls. That strategy put 3 starters, Corey Fisher, Antonio Pena and Maurice Sutton on the bench...along side 6th man Taylor King. The fouls evened out a bit in the 2nd half, though the Joe's outshot Nova from the floor,'Cats went 30-31 at the line to keep pace on scoring.

The official website has the usual AP wirestory, and of course the ever useful boxscore. The breakdown by halves...

OpponentSt. Joseph's 
 Offense Defense

The Wildcats don't particularly like playing in the Palestra, despite the collegiate atmosphere and the respect the staff and players have for the traditions of the Big 5. The lighting is tricky and the sightlines can be deceiving at times, almost favoring close-in shoot making to long range shooting. The Historically, shot efficiency at the Palestra has been an issue; seeing an eFG% of 48.6 for the 1st half was not surprising (though a bit above normal), but the 61.9 in the 2nd half was surprising (see orange highlights above). The 'Cats are not usually that efficient at the Palestra. The pace was surprising too. Saint Joseph's averaged 70.4 overall coming into this game. At the Paradise Jam (against BCS competitiion) they took possessions down to 68.5, fairly typical for D1 games so far this season (the average per Ken Pomeroy is 68.6). 79.5 is where Villanova likes to play, leaving little time for Coach Martelli's offense to develop a shot opportunity. The 1st half seemed fairly typical of a Villanova-St. Joseph's game -- offensive/defensive efficiencies were about where one would expect 107.4 vs 99.5 (a good defensive number). Why did the 2nd half turn into a run-n-gun match? After all it did not "feel" like an up-and-down half. I suspect the Palestra may have had a zebra infestation -- quick glance at the FTA/FGA for both teams (see yellow highlight above) shows the Wildcats took about 1.5 free throws per field goal attempt, while the Hawks took 3 free throws for every 4 field goal attempts. The striped ones could not keep those whistles out of their mouths. Note free throws continue to be the second largest component in Villanova's scoring.

Notes & Observations
1. Taylor King logged a career high 20 points, and fell a single rebound short of recording his first double-double. King took a major-impact 38.3% of the squad's shots when he was on the floor, scoring at a very efficient 60.0% rate -- volume and efficiency. He is a sophomore. He is going to be fun to watch the next 3 years. Two first half fouls limited his play to 27 minutes.
2. Antonio Pena missed his 5th double-double by 3 rebounds. Villanova's #4/#5 went 5-8 from the field and 5-6 from the line to score 15 points. He too was limited by 2 1st half fouls, and did a tremendous job on the offensive boards.
3. Reynolds stepped back from volume-shooting, converting 4 of 5 field goals attempts (2-3, 2-2) for an effective field goal rate of 100, but a shot% of only 10.8 -- so how did he record 22 points? The senior guard made Saint Joseph's pay at the line as he went 12-14 from the stripe. Scottie now has, by my very unofficial count, 1765 points. At this pace he should cross the 1800 point line (and pass Gary Buchanan at #10 on the All-Time list) before the end of the month. Expect a "Milestones" sometime in the second week of February, if all proceeds without incident. Savor this time Nova Nation, players like Scottie don't pass this way often. We have been very lucky to have had two in this decade.

Ref Notes
The crew included Tim Higgins, Bryan Kersey and Mike Roberts. The game broke 50 fouls, and challenged the George Mason game for most whistles blown this season, falling 2 short. Some of the fouls called in the last 3:30 (about 5) were change of possession fouls, but made no headway as the 'Cats hit 10 of 10 free throws and maintained their 8 point cushion through the end of the game. In a perverse turn, the crew also called 4 fouls on Villanova during the same 3:30 period. Corey Fisher and Garrett Williamson were DQ'd.

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