Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Louisville Post Game -- White Out

A "Good" Technical?
13 minutes into the game the Wildcats were down 13 on the road and the home team crowd was blowing the lid off the decible meter. Reggie Redding, dazed by the suffocating Louisville press just had his pocket picked by Kyle Kuric (of all people...), the 12th Villanova turnover so far (was the turnover meter going to mysteriously reappear any moment now?), a pass to Edgar Sosa and the Louisville guard drove the lane for a layup; the Corey Stokes foul (the 10th of the half so far) put the Cardinal guard on the line for an "and-one". And Coach Wright had a meltdown. As the teams paused Villanova's head coach, whose temper had clearly gotten the better of him started to give Karl Hess an earful. And a half. Hess "T"ed the coach and that only seemed to encourage Coach Wright to even more loudly and graphically share his thoughts on how the game was being called. True this was a very physical game, both teams accumulated 10 fouls in just about 13 minutes, which put both teams on pace for about 40+ fouls each before the final buzzer. Would either squad have enough players to put a five man complement on the court? Assistant Coaches Doug West and Jason Donnelly, along with Graduate Assistant Frank Tchuisi, formed a wall between the coach and the zebra herd, gather near the Louisville free throw line, and walked him back (he was about 15 feet onto the court at that point) to the bench area. After assuring West he had composed himself the coach moved towards the midcourt referee again, yelling and gesturing.

The tirade may not have had any effect on the zebras; they called another 47 fouls on both teams (24 on the 'Cats, 23 on the Cards) through the end of the game -- though this sharp-eyed crew spotted over 65 infractions over the 40 minutes, they managed to miss the clipboard that Coach Pitino threw 10 feet onto the court in a show of disgust over a Cardinal foul with 6:05 left. The 'Cats committed another 10 turnovers -- Louisville lost the ball 12 more times as well. But it must have lit a fire under Villanova's players, as they outscored Louisville 23-9 through the rest of the period.

The Official website has an AP wire story, and the box score. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

The 1st half pace, 42.6, was extremely high, an NBA-like, 85 possessions for the game, high. Given the number of fouls whistled to that point (), the pace was unsustainable through the entire game. Still, 37+ possessions for the 2nd half computes to 74+ possessions for each squad, still high by D1 standards (about 68 right now). High possessions does not automatically translate into high turnovers (see the TORates for both teams in the 1st half particularly), but full court presses and half court traps translate into turnovers (if executed well) which in turn kick up the possession-rate (and depress the offensive efficiency -- ccmpare the 1st half Ratings for both teams with their TORate).

"If you punch Villanova in the face, you better knock 'em out..."
Legally that might be labeled an excited utterance. ESPN announcer had watched Villanova take a 12:39 minute, 42-17 run in Freedom Hall, climbing out of a 17 point hole to take a nine point lead. The 'Cats were converting their 3s throughout the game, but their efficient shot conversion (eFG% of 54.5 in the 1st half) was more than negated by their turnover rate (an appalling 40% in the 1st half), coupled with very few 2nd chance points (note the very average -- 33% -- OR%). With better rebounding and a significant cut in the turnover rate the 2nd half yielded a dramatic offensive improvement. Louisville shot very, very poorly throughout the game, yet the Cardinals managed to take the lead in the game's first minute and hold it through the next 25 minutes. Credit the 'Cats for not taking the lead and settling for the good comeback. They continued the effort through the end of hte game, closing out the Cardinals with an eight point cushion.

Notes & Observations
1. Could I lead with anyone other than Scottie Reynolds? The senior scored 36 points on a 9-10 (5-5, 4-5) and 13-17 shooting night. For those without their calculators that translates into the 1.99 PPWS and 115.0% eFG%. Those are not typos. Reynolds took 28% of the team's possessions and 27+% of the team's shots. He was the engine tonight.
2. The offense went through Reynolds, Wayns (when he was in -- 28% of the possessions, 38% of the shots), Fisher, Stokes and King. That is a lot of options. Reynolds, Wayns & King were all efficient. Fisher compensated for his shooting with assists -- three on a night when only 10 were given -- while Stokes got to the line, grabbed four rebounds, blocked a shot and had two steals. Everyone contributed.
3. Yarou logged 14 minutes, grabbed three rebounds, dished an assist and blocked a shot. I was a little surprised to see him in the game. He did a good job with Samuals and Jennings.
4. The starters took 63% of the playing time, unusually low given the closeness of the game. 10 players logged >10 minutes apiece, and the staff used 11 players total during the course of the game. The staff has not played a rotation this deep this long ever. The chemistry looks very good.
5. Scottie, currently #9 on Villanova's All-Time scoring list, passed the 1,900 point mark last night. #8 on the list is one of my favorites, Randy Foye. Randy is the "last stop" before the 2,000 mark. Scottie should join the top 5 scorers before the end of the month.

Ref Notes
The crew of John Cahill, Karl Hess and Mike Stephens should draw double pay for that game, after all, they called enough fouls for two games. Combined the teams drew 67 (not a typo...) fouls in all. The two teams combined for 94 FTAs. This crew worked the Maryland game (a 47 whistle affair), while Cahill and Hess worked the La Salle game (46 fouls). I guess they were building to this classic. Oddly, the fouls did not deter either team from physical play, though Coach Wright's technical may have served to kick up the Wildcats' energy level.

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