Monday, February 15, 2010

Providence Post Game: Technicals, Part 3

We Got Tangled Up...
There are three types of technicals...
1. Smart Technicals -- The coach wants to communicate with an official (or his team), and normal channels, already used, have not worked. A month ago in Louisville Coach Wright was angry his team was on the short end of a number of calls. A well-timed (if apparently spontaneous) outburst directed at an official seemed to get everyone's attention. The dynamic changed after that call. The calls tended to "even out", and the low post play tended to get fewer whistles.
2. Failed Technicals -- When a coach rides an official into calling a technical he (or she) is taking a calculated gamble. The upside is that it can change the dynamic of the game. That is, it can change the way the officials interact with the two teams and call the game. It can change the intensity with which the coach's team plays the game (and approaches their opponent). The immediate risk is the prospect of giving away up to two points on the current possession, and immediate possession of the ball. That can be tricky, because the opponent might score between zero (at the best) and four points (at worst) in that conceded possession. And a change in the dynamic (if any change in fact comes to pass) may be for the worse. If the gamble pays off, the coach is a genius -- see Smart Technicals above. And if the "T" has no effect, or heaven-forbid, a negative effect, it has to go down as a failed gamble. In the 2/06 Georgetown game, the technical called on Coach Wright at 7:07 of the first half was the tenth foul called on Villanova to that point. Georgetown had picked up three fouls. Through the rest of the half, the Hoyas picked up seven more fouls to Villanova's five. But Coach Wright's gamble backfired as the Wildcats, down by nine at the time of the "T", ceded another 10 points to Georgetown, and went to the locker room down 19 at the half.
3. Knucklehead Technicals -- Head coaches are not the only ones who draw technicals. An assistant coach or two have been known to draw the ire of an official, and a technical to boot. This season a student manager was identified as the culprit in an incident. No surprise he was let go the next day (justly or unjustly...). And of course, players have also drawn technicals. The Villanova-Providence actually saw two players, both seniors, draw technicals. Unusual in that that each drew his respective technical in two separate incidents that occurred in different halves. Normally two players will exchange words, and engage in some shoving. While not serious enough for an ejection (which leads to an inevitable suspension...), the game referees will assess a technical to each player, thereby negating any advantage one or the other team may draw from the incident. The first half technical was assessed against Reggie Redding, a senior suspended for the fall semester during the summer of 2009. Redding has returned, but has yet to round into the form that had Villanova fans excited last spring. It was a contest rebound after a Vincent Council miss. Council got the rebound (and I thought a foul, announced by the PA at the time, but not recorded in the Play-by-Play). Redding raised his arms (shoving, not punching), and the referee put Council on the line to shoot and then take the ball out of bounds. A tightly contest game, going nip and tuck through 31 ½ minutes. Both sides probing for an edge, any advantage that will help them put the other side behind them and keep them down. And then senior Sharaud Curry snapped. He was called for his fourth foul, the second foul in just over a minute, for a block on a Scottie Reynolds drive. Looking up at the official, Curry lost it, snapping "What foul?" at the official as he raised his arms in a shrugging gesture. That was, apparently, enough for that official, at that point in the game. The technical became Curry's fifth, and the senior watched the last eight minutes from the Providence bench.

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

 Offense Defense

Half-time Adjustments
Given both teams are known more for offense than defense (this season anyway) and for high possession games, I thought the pace would be well into the 40s by half-time, and the score somewhere in the mid-40 to low-50s. I was half right, as the pace was a scorching 44.5 possessions. That works out to between 88 and 89 possessions over the course of the game. The points -- Villanova had 40 and Providence was just five points off that mark at 35, came from volumn (of possessions), not from offensive efficiency. Check the table above for each team (under first half). Neither team broke 100 for efficiency (points per 100 possessions). Villanova checked in with an offfensive rating of 89.9 (or about 0.9 points per possession) while Providence was an even less impressive 78.7 (or about 0.79 points per possession). For the Wildcats, the problem was not getting their shots to drop, a 52.9% eFG% is not bad at all, the problem was getting the shot off. Or a second chance if the first FGA missed. Villanova lost over 1 in 4 possessions in the first half and rebounded only (about) one in five misses, not good numbers. The Friars shot poorly, plain and simple.

Notes & Observations
1. The Coreys and Reynolds became the focal point for the offense. In the past seven games Fisher and Reynolds have either "tied" each other (four times) or come within a point (once) in five of those games. Saturday the number was 22, and both players hit that mark, Fisher in 33 minutes, Reynolds in 27 minutes. Stokes took as large a role as the other two, but had did not convert with the same efficiency as Reynolds and Fisher (31.8% eFG% vs 53.6% and 66.7%).
2. Antonio Pena logged his 6th double-double of the season, his first in February and the first since Notre Dame.
3. Isaiah Armwood had the most promising outing of the freshmen. He scored five points on 1-2 (0-0, 1-2) and 3-4 shooting. His points were matched by his rebounding and assists; he had five (1-4-5) rebounds and an assist in 15 minutes of play.
4. The staff played 11 players, but kept the starters in for 70.6% of the time, the largest slice allocated to the starting five since the Maryland game in early December. The starting five, Reynolds, Fisher, Redding, Pena and Stokes, is still in place. The starting five has remained the same since Delaware.

Ref Notes
James Breeding, Ed Hightower and Doug Shows manned the crew. The crew called 48 total fouls on both sides, two more than the Villanova-West Virginia game, and nine more than Seton Hall, the last home game. 48 fouls is within the expected range, as were the number of free throws taken by both teams. This was Hightower's and Shows' first Villanova game this season, Breeding (3-0) officiated two earlier games.

Live Blogging
Doing my fourth Villanova live blog this season, I made a point of getting to the Wach early and settling into press row. Having an episode in the Georgetown game with the Wachovia's WIFI facilities, I wanted to make sure everything would be in place. My laptop froze (of course) five minutes before tip off, a problem I did not get worked out for about 15 minutes. That hurtle taken, I found the "normal" ebb and flow of the WIFI signal was less disruptive than in the earlier game. The staff provided real time stats on press row, an invaluable resource for this blogger. I will host Rush the Court's live blog from the UConn game on Monday night. After you have settled into your favorite message board game thread, be sure to open another tab and come over to Rush the Court.

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