Which Zone is the Green Flash Card?
That the Wildcats of Villanova would see zone defenses coming at them has been a given since the NIT Tip-Off Final versus Tennessee. The questions are how many varieties would any team show them and how quickly would the back court recognize and react appropriately to the defense in front of them? At the 11:55 minute mark of the first half Villanova was on the short end of an 20-6 score and watched (literally watched...) as their fourth turnover was converted to two points by Jerrell Williams. As the announcing crew was ruminating over Texas Christian's entry into the Big East and lamenting Villanova's scoring drought, Fisher, ball in hand, scraped the lane and threw a pass to Corey Stokes who was set up just off the the baseline just in front of the La Salle bench. In a single motion Stokes gathered the pass and lofted a shot at the basket. The ball sailed through the nets and the 'Cats began their long climb back into the game. Over the next nine and half minutes the Wildcats launched a 32-17 run, helped when Aaric Murray took a seat at the 9:35 mark, and took a one point lead, 38-37, into the half.
The ever faithful Nova blogs, VUHoops.com and The Nova Blog have posted their recaps. The Nova Blog's post, "postgame: Villanova 84, La Salle 81" focused on how the Nova bigs shut down Aaric Murray and Fisher, mired in a shooting drought, nevertheless contributed at the line. VUHoops.com's recap, "Nova Narrowly Avoids Upset to La Salle" was as tepid as the title suggests. Ed '77 carefully balanced every positive with a negative. The Athletic Department website posted the official boxscore and the AP wire story, "Three Players Score In Double Figures In 84-81 Win Over La Salle", noted the scoring distribution. The breakdown by halves...
|Opponent:||La Salle University|
Favorable numbers get some green highlighting while the troubling stats get the red treatment. The pace, especially the first half, was scorching, suggesting an NBA-style up and down game. Speed and transition buckets were a huge part of the half. As were the turnovers. If the first half featured fast, but inefficient offense, the second half, played at a more "deliberate" pace, was an offensive horse race. If La Salle had a more efficient field goal conversion rate (see the red highlighted eFG% above), their 24% turnover rate (about 1 in 4 possessions ended on a turnover, not a field goal or free throw attempt) blunted that edge enough to give Villanova the nod for offensive efficiency (124.5 vs. 119.1). One of those crucial sequences in the half featured a trapped Mouphtaou Yarou trapped with a low post pass on the base line. Pinned by ? defenders he found Fisher at the three point line and hit the point with a kickout. Rather than try the three, Fisher put the ball on the deck and hit the lane, looking for something in the 5-7 foot range. He stopped lofted the J but was bumped by Aaric Murray late to react to Yarou's pass. The Nova guard went to the line and converted two, but most fortunate for the 'Cats, the foul, Murray's fourth, put the La Salle #4 on the bench for over 10 minutes. Dr. Giannini subbed Murray back in at the 7:45 mark, but moved him on and off the court nearly continously, for the rest of the game.
Notes & Observations
1. Maalik Wayns led the 'Cats with 19 points on 8-15 (0-2, 8-13) and 3-4 shooting. The sophomore guard grabbed 4 rebounds, dished 2 dimes (and had four turnovers) along with 2 steals.
2. Four other 'Cats, Corey Fisher (16), Corey Stokes (16), Dom Cheek (14) and Antonio Pena (13) also scored double digit points. Fisher had eight assists against four turnovers.
3. Mouphtaou Yarou continues to be a bull on the boards. The sophomore big pulled down 30.7% (not a typo) of the defensive boards when he was on the floor. That is a huge margin for a single player. His 14.3% offensive rebounding rate is also Top 100-strong.
4. The team points per weighted shot (PPWS) was a strong 1.21, reflecting a healthy ratio of free throws (and conversions) to field goal attempts.
5. The Wildcats have played (and won) the third of their four Big 5 games. At 3-0, it seems the Big 5 title will again come down to their game with Temple, to be played December 30 this season. The Wildcats who ran up a 3-1 record last season finished second to the Owls who won the title outright with a 4-0 record. Villanova is 17-2 in the last 19 Big 5 games. Coach Wright is 9-1 versus La Salle in Big 5 play.
|Player||% Min||Poss %||Shot%||PPWS||eFG%||TO%||Ast%|
Fisher and Wayns again combined for less than 60% (56.5%) of the team's possessions when they were on the court, a good sign the backcourt duo are looking for others to be open/finish plays. Their combined shot percentage (Shot%) was 55.3%, a bit high perhaps, but Wayns, who took 32.3% (high) had an efficient night from the floor, logging a 53.3% eFG% and 1.12 PPWS. Fisher continued to struggle with finishing his shots, but he did a terrific job in setting up his teammates, logging a very high 43.0% rebound rate (nearly half of the Wildcats' converted field goals came off of his passes). The senio guard had a steal and stepped to the line at the end of the game to convert crucial one-and-ones.