Thursday, January 7, 2010

DePaul Post Game: The Freshmen

Alpha & Omega, Part 2
The official web site has AP wire story and the box score. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Half-time Adjustments
It has to be difficult to maintain focus for a second 20 stretch when you take a 25 point lead into the half-time. Unlike football where a 3 touchdown lead is sometimes a trap for the leadin team, 25 points is very difficult to overcome, especially if the team that is down has difficulty matching the talent of the team that is up. For DePaul however, garnering a 118.9 efficiency might be the springboard to better results in conference play. In particular the Demons distributed the ball (note their 2nd half assist rate -- in orange) well, got to the line and hit their 3s at an extraordinary clip (63.6% -- see orange hightlight above). If you are interested in understanding the Wildcats' offense and defense, the 1st half numbers are more instructive.

I could bathe all of the numbers, offense and defense in green highlight to suggest good stuff happened. It would however, obscure the details of Villanova's domination at both ends of the floor. The 'Cats hit their field goals, both inside and outside the 3 point line. Their conversion rate for 3s (50%) was most impressive, comparable to hitting 75% of their 2s. Note the point distribution however, harvesting 53.1% of their points from 2s suggests they used the 3 sparingly (which might explain why they converted so efficiently). Note also (yellow highlight on the bottom row) that they took very few free throws in the half (actually in the entire game). Typically the 'Cats will look to the free throw line for 25%-35% of their points. Especially impressive is the offensive rebounding (green highlight), given Koshwal's reputation as a rebounder. The Demons' 1st half work under their own basket reflects what Koshwal and his front court mates can accomplish. Good to see the Wildcats made the necessary adjustments to limit 2nd chance points in the 2nd half.

Notes & Observations
1. Scottie Reynolds took 28% of the possessions and 31% of the shots when he was on the court, the unusual development was Maalik Wayns' possessions (39.9% -- yes, that is not a typo) and shots (35.8%) which raised my eyebrows a bit, and reminded me of some of Corey Fisher's freshman numbers. Consider that both Scottie (62.5%) & Maalik (50%) played 50% or better, they were definitely on the floor together for part of the game, so during those periods, one of them took the possession better than 7 of 10 times. And the chances were (much) better than 50% that one of them took the shot. Both are natural scorers, and very dangerous when the ball is in either guard's hands.
2. Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points, the 6th time this season he has logged points > 20. Through 13 games in 2009, Scottie had 20+ points only twice, 18+ only twice more. Scottie passed Ed Pinckney to take the #9 spot on Villanova's All-Time Scoring list.
3. Maalik Wayns bested his career-high with 19 points on 8-12 (1-3, 7-9) and 1-1 shooting. His shot-making was impressive, but perhaps 2nd to his passing in this game. At the 10:47 mark of the 1st half he took an outlet pass from Maurice Sutton (on a defensive rebound) brought it down the right sideline and began to fade to the elbow when he spotted Dom Cheek crashing the basket from the left side. Wayns' bounce pass hit Cheek (at his hands) just feet from the basket. Up and in in a single, smooth motion. The possession was over in about 6 seconds; 2 more points for Villanova & Cheek on the line for an "and-1" (DePaul forward Devin Hill fouled Cheek as he layed it up and in).
4. Corey Fisher had a quiet, but very efficient night. The junior guard took "go-to guy" level possessions (25.6%), while taking shot within the offense (22.1%), and dishing 6 assists against 0 turnovers. Fish hit at a 55.0 eFG%, while scoring 15 points and got to the line (FTA/FGA) at a forward-like 50.0%. On the whole an outstanding night.
5. The staff ran the starters for about 66% of the time. Normally that would suggest a rather large scoring margin favoring the Wildcats. That makes the size of the rotation and starter minutes logged a bit unusual -- the rotation should have been shorter (it was 10, 8 logging double-digit minutes and 1 getting 7), and the starter minutes a larger portion of the total minutes available (>70%). The staff may be developing a strategy for running more players through the game without compromising the quality of play. A larger rotation should help later in the season (when the players are a bit ground down from the schedule).
6. Villanova great John Celestand provided the color for the ESPNU telecast. John sounded terrific & though a Wildcat through-and-through, was largely neutral throughout the broadcast. Good observations about both teams. Good job.

Ref Notes
The zebras tonight were James Breeding, Paul Faia and Tony Greene, a veteran crew. They took the Let 'em Play approach, calling a mere 35 fouls, the low end for personals this season. The distribution was not equitable however as the Demons absorbed 16 personals and took 27 trips to the line versus 19 and 19 for the 'Cats. The 19 FTAs were "exceptionally" low for Villanova, though, with a 27 point cushion, the Wildcats did not need extra trips to the line.

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