Monday, December 14, 2009

Temple Post Game -- Living by the 3

What is it With Birds?
When the 'Cats took a 33-19 lead the game was beginning to have the feel of a blowout, the Owls were missing their 3s, and Wildcat defensive rebounding was working. Maybe they were not getting offensive rebounds, but when you are shooting 59.3% (eFG%) and hitting 50% of your 3s, who needs rebounds? The Owls did not fold, launched a 12-4 run to close out the last 4:29 of the 1st half and left the 'Cats with a 6 point lead, and a very false sense of security, going into the half.

I ran some flukey numbers from the ESPN boxscore (I should know better, those guys have burned me a few times already...), and believed the 1st half pace was about 35+. That would have been good news for the 'Cats, bad news for the Owls. Not to be however, as the official box score indicated the pace was 31.1 for both halves, a very rarely consistent pace. The official website also has the AP wirestory. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Half-time Adjustments
The first half, offensive rebounding excepted, followed a well established trend for early this season -- relatively high eFG% (52.2%) partially negated by turnovers (TORate -- 25.8%, the Owls lost 1 in 4 possessions). Defensive steals (Stl% -- 19.5) suggest the source of the turnovers, steals, most likely came from the press...the Owls were not handling it well. When your team is shooting 59.3 (eFG%) from the field, it is hard to get nervous about lack of offensive rebounding. The 2nd half changed everything. The Owls took care of turnovers (note the half-over-half decline), even at the expense of a few offensive rebounds (30.8 down to 25.0). Their shooting exploded however, as suggested by their conversion rates (highlighted in red), which translated into a very high (for a team) eFG% of 78.0%. Lack of defense, especially shot defense, combined with a distinct lack of offense from Villanova, combined to produce a very anemic second half for the Wildcats.

Temple guard Juan Fernandez scored a career high 33 points (in 34 minutes of play), 17 of them in the 1st half alone. He went 11-15, 7-9 from beyond the arc and 4-4 from the free throw line. Off guard Ryan Brooks scored 20 points, 3 short of his high this season (versus Delaware in the Owls' first game). Levoy Allen scored 10 points on 5-10 (0-1, 5-9) shooting, and grabbed 17 rebounds, 1 short of his career high (recorded last season against St. Bonaventure).

Notes & Observations
1. Scottie Reynolds was not only the high scorer for Villanova, he tied with Taylor King for the team high (2-5-7) 7 rebounds.
2. Reynolds and Corey Fisher again functioned as the offensive nucleus of the team. Reynolds took 32.7% of the shots when he was on the floor (87.5% of the minutes), while Fisher took 30.3% of the shots as well (82.5% of the minutes). Reynolds was shot a relatively effective 65.6% (eFG%) while converting at a 1.36 (PPWS) rate. Fisher shot a less effective 50.5% (eFG%), converting at a disappointing 0.97 (PPWS). The Option #3 role was filled by Antonio Pena in this game. Tone scored 16 points, taking 18.3% of the shots when he was on the floor, hitting at a 50.0% (eFG%) rate, and converting at a 1.25 clip (6-6 from the line). Taylor King, a pleasant surprise over the past 3 games, paced the 1st half with 6 points on 2-5 (2-3, 0-2) shooting. King hit an effective 60.0% (eFG%) rate, converting at a 1.20 (PPWS) rate. Temple shut him down in the 2nd half -- King had zero FGAs in 17 minutes of 2nd half play. He did grab 3 rebounds to go with his 4 1st half rebounds.
3. Villanova closes their 2010 Big 5 record at 3-1. With most of the games still to be played between the other teams, this season's City Series champion will most likely not be official until Temple plays La Salle on February 28. For Villanova however, the 2001-2010 decade closes with the 'Cats posting a 32-8 (0.800), the best decade-long run for a Big 5 team. The Villanova-Temple rivalry remains the most competitive in the City Series. In Big 5 play the Wildcats the slightest, 26-25, of leads.

Ref Notes
The crew contained three familiar faces -- Jim Burr, Joe Lindsay and Michael Stephens. For Burr and Lindsay, who have routinely run 3 - 5 games per season over the past 3+ seasons, this was their inaugural game for 2010. Michael Stephens worked in the crews that refereed the Penn and Maryland games. The Nova Nation may favor the let 'em play type zebras, but this crew was a bit too laid back. The Wildcats have averaged about 26 free throw attempts in road games this season, typically only 4 - 6 attempts are attributable to end-of-game possession fouls; the 'Cats had only 11 attempts versus Temple. The table above shows Villanova scored only 13.8% of their points at the line versus Temple, free throws made typically acount for 20% - 36% of Villanova's points. 13.8% is by far the lowest percentage for the season (so far).

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