Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cincinnati Post Game: Road Games

Fifth Third
The Cincinnati home court has been kind to Villanova since the Bearcats joined the Big East. The Wildcats are 2-1 in conference games since 2006. Those tempted to lay this at (Cincinnati Coach) Mick Cronin's feet should think again. Villanova's first win came against interrem coach Andy Kennedy. The 'Cats are 2-1 versus Cronin, but consider the trainwreck the former Murray State had to clean up.

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

 Offense Defense

Half-time Adjustments
At (roughly) 30 possessions apiece, the first half looked a little like the first half at Syracuse...without the defensive meltdown. The second half pace, 38.5 (call it 39), was closer to Pomeroy's predicted pace of 72. Tied at 31, each team arrived at that common score by very different routes, as illustrated nicely by the table above. The Wildcats hit their shots (especially from the outside, which, at 48.4%, accounted for nearly half of their points), secured rebounds and got to the line. They also turned the ball over too much. The Bearcats did not shoot particularly well, but did rebound their misses and did not turn over the ball. Lack of defensive board presence was unusual in that both team suffered that deficiency in the first half. Cincinnati corrected (on both boards) in the second half, Villanova did not.

Notes & Observations
1. Although Reynolds came on in the second half, he stepped back overall, as the focal point of the offense. The staff matched big-for-big, as Juniors Pena and Stokes stepped into the dominant offensive roles when they were on the court. Tone took 24.8% of the available shots, while Stokes launched 32.7% of the shots when he played. Each played just under 66% of the available minutes at their positions, enough time to establish an offensive presence. Pena was prolific in his shot, but struggled a bit from the field, hitting on 42.9%, but Stokes was a bomber, hitting three of six from beyond the arc and finishing twice around the basket for an eFG% of 72.2%, very good for the number of shots he took. Reynolds, Fisher and Yarou blitzed the Bearcats as secondary scoring options. Each posted an eFG% of better than 70.0% while taking between 17.3% (Fisher) and 18.8% (Reynolds) of the available shots when they were on the floor. A solid offensive performance coming from all five of those players. The balance of the rotation had shooting success ranging from none (Armwood, Cheek & Wayns...literally none, zero) to great (Redding posted an 80.0% eFG% taking 13% of the shots). Overall the offensive production was very balanced, with six players scoring 10 or more points (and none scoring more than 17).
2. Mouphtaou Yarou started his second consecutive game, while logging more than 20 minutes for the third consecutive game. He has averaged 9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2 blocks per game over the three games. The staff appears to be getting him ready for a larger role.
3. The starting lineup for Cincinnati and Syracuse included Pena, Reynolds, Fisher, Redding and Yarou. This contingent logged 67% of the playing time. The amount of time allocated to the starters has remained in the mid-60s through much of the season (both OOC and Big East), though it appears to fluctuate slightly based on fouls (not really a problem with Cincinnati) and sooring margins. The rotation totaled 10 players, with eight logging 10 or more minutes.
4. For the fifth game running Corey Stokes has put the ball on the deck and driven to the basket at least once. Known as a catch-and-shoot (with a not very strong handle) perimeter player when he first came to the Mainline, Stokes has developed the knack for recognizing when to shoot and when to drive. He caught a nice entry pass in the low post and finished against the Bearcats, a move nowhere in his skill set two seasons ago.
5. Rebounding was a concern going into the season, but by late January it appeared the Wildcats had the matter under control. If the last seven games are an indication, the situation may be less secure than it appeared in January. The Wildcats have held their opponent to less than 32% of their misses only twice over the last seven games, compiling a 4-3 record during that span. They have failed to corral 33% or more of their own misses twice over those same seven games. This may be one reason Yarou is seeing more playing time now, as the freshman has snagged 21 rebounds over that period.
6. The Wildcats are 6-3 in Big East road games this season.

Ref Notes
John Cahill, Bryan Kersey and (gasp!) Michael Stephens worked the game, whistling the teams for a combined 47 fouls, a bit higher than the Wildcats' average for the season. This was the fourth Villanova game this season in which Micheal Stephens refereed and a technical was assessed. This time the "T"s went to two players, Antonio Pena and Yancy Gates, instead of the bench. The frequency of fouls and number of free throws were not outside of the "normal" range (high or low) for Villanova away games.

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