The Wildcats hosted Coach Wright's alma mater Bucknell last night in their first game of the 2010-11 season. The 'Cats were not gracious hosts, as they defeated the Bison 68-52 at the Pavilion on Villanova's campus. The 'Cats tussled with the Bison for most of the first half, building a double digit lead around the 5:00 minute mark. They maintained that distance (but not much more) going into the half with a 12 point lead, 28-16.
Ah, what a difference a year (or so) makes. The ink media beat virtually the entire Villanova blogosphere to press with Bernard Fernandez's "Fisher's 24 leads Villanova over Bucknell". And in case you forgot it was Philadelphia coverage, the phillynews.com editors headlined the story comment section with the question "Do you think Villanova is overrated?" Care to guess whose school's fan commented first? The University site posted their AP wire story, even as Ed '77 over at VUHoops.com slept. Refreshed this morning, Ed posted his recap, with a theme similar to philly.com's Fernandez -- but an attitude far less negative. Justin over at Nova Basketball Report.com checked in with "Bucknell Thoughts" which, true to the title, was more a thought/reaction piece than a straight-up news report/recap. Chris over at The Nova Blog filed last (well, second to last technically) with his reaction piece. And someone needs to get a memo to Fact on Villanova Sports -- THE SEASON STARTED LAST NIGHT!!!
The official website also posted the boxscore, thank heaven. The breakdown by halves
Half Time Adjustments
First game (first half?) jitters are probably the reason for the inefficient offense (86.5, or about 0.865 points per possesion) which, according to the table above (see red highlight by 2FG% & TO%), seemed attributable to poor inside shooting and turnovers, but the 12 point lead came from Bucknell's inability to convert possessions to points (or some very good defense from Villanova? Check the defensive blocks and steals). Villanova's poor shot efficiency (44.0) was salvaged by two Corey Stokes three point buckets (and one apiece from Cheek and Fisher), otherwise it would have been lower. The second half offensive explosion was good (complements of much improved shooting from Fisher among others), but the step back on defense, allowing the Bison to convert at a 1.13 rate, was a step back, apparently a let up on the perimeter defense (note how Bucknell's three point conversion rate jumped from 18.2 to 54.5, half-over-half). A more competitive first half could have spelled trouble in the second half. Though Bucknell did cut Villanova's cushion to single digits several times around the halfway mark of the second half, seven was the closest they came, and the 'Cats pushed it out to 10 or better with 6:00 to go and never looked back. The distribution of possessions was interesting, especially in light of questions about how involved the front court will be in the offense. By my count about half of the Villanova blogosphere were upset that the guards tried to force the ball into the paint too much, while the half were upset tha the guards did not get the ball to the front court enough...huh?
The low post anomaly is in part explained when one compares shot and possession numbers for Yarou and Pena. Yarou took a healthy percentage of the available possessions (23.8), but shot poorly and turned the ball over (misdirected entry passes?). Pena by contrast was invisible on the offensive end, though efficient when he got the ball (compare eFG% and turnovers TO% for Pena and Yarou), rebounding excepted. But the possession rate that really jumps out is Wayns'. 41% is off the charts. While as one blogger observed, Wayns turned the ball over a few times, that does not account entirely for his inefficiency. Check out his eFG% (basically a single stat that represents his shot efficiency). Ouch, last night was not his best effort. His assist rate is high (I wonder how many were passes to Fisher and how many of Fisher's assists were to Wayns...), and clearly blunts the negative impact of his turnovers, but he cannot give up one in four of his possessions without a shot night-in and night-out.
Notes & Observations
1. The Wildcats rebounded very well on both sides of the ball, for both halves. On the defensive side five players in particular, Pena, Yarou (expected), Stokes, Sutton and Amrwood all snagged rebounds at a very high rate. Sutton's number is distorted a bit by the relatively small amount of playing time he received. Offensive boards appear to be a strength for Yarou, Cheek and Armwood, though Pena again had a good night under his own basket. Nice to see a guard (Wayns) rebound under the offensive glass as well.
2. The seniors logged the most minutes, as one would expect. The magnitude however was a bit surprising as the Coreys pulled down 90% of the minutes and Tone took next most with 77.5%, large chunks indeed. The degree to which the freshmen Bell and Pinkston represented the "depth" of the squad was not obvious to me until I saw these playing time numbers. From the percentages, it is clear the "low post" rotation is comprised of Yarou (starter) with Sutton and Armwood available. Sutton drew more minutes than Armwood, and I suspect Armwood played more out of the paint (a #4) with either Pena (or Sutton/Yarou) shifting inside of him.
3. The backcourt/wing rotation was (again) pretty obviously the starters -- Fish, Wayns and Stokes -- with Cheek picking up minutes left by those three, plus some from front court players. This is probably the mix the fans will see this season, though I doubt the Coreys will consistently draw that much court time. They would be spent by mid February.
1. Freshmen James Bell and JayVaughn Pinkston were DNP. Bell continues to rehabilitate from leg fractures, while Pinkston has a disciplinary matter to resolve. Hopefully both will address their problems directly and be back 100% in the near future.