Should auld acquaintance be forgot...and never brought to mind?
The Wildcats punched their ticket to NIT Tip-Off semi-finals in New York City with an 82-66 win over the Terriers of Boston University. The victory however, added the bitter to the sweet. While Villanova secured their spot in the NIT Tip-Off Final Four and in the process ran their Pavilion winning streak to 38 consecutive games, the win came against former Associate Head Coach Patrick Chambers who left the Main Line in the 2009 off season to take up the first chair at BU. Chambers was a favorite of players and fans alike, and the Boston U team participated as a last minute signee to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in the fall of 2009. The PR Tip-Off seed and bracket did not provide for a reunion match between Coach Wright and his former assistant, and had teams played to seed Tuesday, they would not have met in this Tip-Off either. But Boston University drew a George Washington team that, staggered by the last minute loss of star sophomore Lasan Kromah, proved no match for Chambers' charges. BU beat GWU 76-67, setting the stage for tonight's reunion. The Wildcats treated the 6,500 in attendance at the Pavilion to the best half of Villanova basketball so far this season, throttling the Terriers and taking a 40-24 lead into the break. But the visitors settled in, adjusted their offense and battled their hosts to a standstill in the second half.
Boston U took the lead twice in the first 2:30 of the game, but when they surrendered it for the second time at the 17:30 mark, they never saw it again. Indeed, from that point to the end of the half the Wildcats outscored the Terriers 34-17. After allowing BU to convert three of their first four field goal attempts, Nova clamped on the shot defense allowing BU to go 6-24 through the rest of the half. Holding a three point lead at the 14:14 mark, the 'Cats took a 10 minute, 21-8 run that opened a 17 point bulge and threatened to blow the Terriers out of the gym. Chambers regrouped his team at the media timeout and the recomposed squad managed to outscore the 'Cats over the next four (or so) minutes, 6-5, to cut the margin to 16, 40-24, going into the intermission.
From the time stamps, it appears the Chris at The Nova Blog was first to press with his report, "postGame: Villanova 82, Marist 66 ", beating out MIKE at VUHoops.com's piece "VU Beats BU" by about 10 minutes (don't really have an accurate number because VUhoops.com doesn't time stamp their submissions, but their first comment was posted at about 10:46, 16 minutes after Chris posted, so I am giving poster NovaFlyer 15 minutes to read the article, gather his thoughts and post "want to see us against some top 15 teams". Nova BasketballReport.com blogger Justin posted a largely complementary article about the game, "Overrated No More" with a three bullet "To Do List" for the team. Another blog, Independent Philly, filed an anonymous picture and narrative post about the game, "Villanova Downs Boston University in Battle of Cats vs. Dogs", which gets the nod for longest post title.
The official website posted the official boxscore and the ever-accurate AP wire story. The breakdown by halves...
The pace was again, consistent from half to half, though lower than either of the first two games. Perhaps Coach Chambers, taking a leaf from Dean Oliver's Basketball on Paper, decided to take the number of possessions down to enhance his team's chances of pulling off the upset. The problem with that theory however, is that once down by 16 the Terriers should have pushed the pace to give themselves more scoring opportunities.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!...And surely I’ll be mine!
The offensive stats are by-and-large very good -- note the green highlighted (offensive) efficiency rating, shot efficiency and turnover stats above. But there are a few problem children on the offensive side (note the red highlights on three point shooting and rebounding for example), and a disappointing defensive effort in the second half. That the 'Cats were unable to convert a single three point attempt in the second half, despite taking eight attempts is bad enough, but to allow an opponent to convert theirs at a 40% rate is disconcerting. A 40% rate for threes yields the same point total as a 60% conversion rate for two point attemtps.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!...And gies a hand o’ thine!
The traditional reunion dinner must have been a grand time, but there were no doubt reunions and memories from many sources. Seven members of the BU squad hail from Philadelphia or the immediate environs. Many families most likely gathered to see their sons compete. Junior guard Darryl Partin, a native of Seattle, WA transferred to BU after playing two years at Big 5 rival La Salle University. Junior forward Patrick Hazel played for Big East rival Marquette before transferring to BU.
Notes & Observations
1. Possession and shot rates reverted. The high-end bulge reappeared, this time back with Wayns (29.7%) and Fisher (33.6%). The shot rate was a bit more evenly distributed, but both Wayns and Fisher took a large share of the FGAs while yielding little for their effort (23.0 and 30.2 respectively). And while both had good assist numbers, neither was as efficiency as the team.
2. Rebounding fell off dramatically in the second half (see red highlight above), no doubt the result of a half-time adjustment in the BU lockerroom.
3. The seniors (Fisher excepted) drew more minutes than their underclassmen counterparts. Yarou and Sutton, two players who had previously logged > 50% of the time alloted for their position, registered < 50% playing time numbers this time..
1. The freshmen (James Bell and JayVaughn Pinkston) continue to be DNP.
Fifth year senior Russell Wooten and walk-on Dallas Ouanoappeared for a minute apiece. Neither took a shot.
NIT Final Four and Semi-Final Round
Villanova will face UCLA, the "West" pod host at Madison Square Garden November 24, with the last game to be played on November 26.