Sunday, December 27, 2009

Seton Hall - West Virginia -- Home for the Holidays

The Boys Are Back in Town...
A game in Newark, NJ, scheduled the day after Christmas for a team from West Virginia may sound like a hardship. But temper that first impulse, for 6 of West Virginia's 16 rostered players (Da'Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Darryl Bryant, Danny Jennings and Wellington Smith) a game at the Rock is practically a home game. They played their High School ball in and around New York City, Long Island or New Jersey. This was more like "Home for the Holidays" than "Long Strange Trip". And those 6 made the most of the chance to play in front of family and friends as they collectively shot 25-51 (7-18, 18-33) and 18-23 -- that is 83.6% of the Mountaineers' FGAs (and 81.6% of the team's 3FGAs). The six players accounted for 75 of West Virginia's 90 points (83.3%).

In the first half it did not appear that Seton Hall was getting any rebounds at all. Indeed the splits indicate the Pirates snagged <25% of their misses, but gave VWU 31.6% of their's, better than the D1 average (about 33%). The Pirates' 1st half problems derived from their inability to stop West Virginia from converting shots. Indeed, WVU's eFG% was 50.0%, based on a 50% conversion rate for 2s, and a 33% conversion rate for 3s. Very consistent. Seton Hall implemented a press to exploit WVU's lack of point guard skills on the floor (note that both Mazzulla and Bryant had dings. Though both played & logged about 62.5% of the minutes at the #1, neither was particularly effective offensively & even less so defensively). The Mountaineers had a 1st half turnover rate of 15.8, when combined with their 2nd half turnover rate (13.8), suggests the Hall's press was ineffective.

Half-time Adjustments
Coach Gonzalez appeared to have solved a few of the Hall's 1st half deficiencies, namely on the boards. But he failed to find a good strategy for the press. But the Hall's conversion efficiency (eFG%) remained flat at 43.1% for both halves. Improvements came from getting to the line and controlling their offensive boards better (up to 37.5%, from 23.1%), and getting to the line more. Converting at the line became very problematic however. The game was lost at the line in fact. While WVU had a free throw conversion rate of 72.7% (24 of 33), the Pirates could muster no better than 48% (16 of 33). Even merely matching WVU's conversion rate would have translated into a win.

Notes and Observations
1. Jeremy Hazell scored a career-high 41 points on 14-33 and 9-12 shooting. His eFG% was a disappointing 48.5% with a 1.06 PPWS, good, but not great numbers. Hazell took 34% of the Hall's possessions (a very large percentage) and over 42% of the squad's shots, when he was on the floor. Both numbers are high for anyone not named Michael Jordan, but Coach Gonzalez seemed to have made peace with the idea that Hazell would consume a lot of the Pirate's possessions and shots this season.
2. Keon Lawrence and Jeff Robinson 2 recently re-instated players, had comparatively quiet games. Lawrence scored no points in 7 minutes of action, while Robinson scored 5 points in 19 minutes.
3. Coach Huggins played his 4 forward (plus a guard) starting lineup for 79.1% of the available minutes (in contrast with Coach Gonzalez's 65.9% usage). The high percentage suggests the game was close (it was), but also lacking point guard level ball handling skills was not a point of vulnerability.
4. "No one in the Big East can score faster than Jeremy Hazell. Everyone knows that..." -- Coach Huggins.

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