Saturday, December 11, 2010

Penn Post Game -- Benchmarks

Searching for Bobby Corey Fisher
The senior point played in the shadow of Scottie Reynolds for his first three seasons on the Main Line, will he play his fourth in the shadow of his own reputation? The Wildcats entered the Cathedral of Basketball to play the home team, and despite the poor lighting (a oddity traceable to the design of the ceiling), another "teaching moment" benching, a typical Big 5 rivalry scramble and a point guard who had more rebounds than points, and managed to come away with a 12 point win over one of the favorites to take the Ivy League title (and go back to the NCAAs) this season. Yet for the Nova blogosphere, the 12 point margin of victory was not enough.

The official website posted the official boxscore and even the AP wire story, leadeing with..."No. 12 Villanova Holds Off Penn", sounded vaguely disappointed with the team's effort. The breakdown by halves...

Opponent:University of Pennsylvania 
 Offense Defense

The feel good numbers get some green highlighting while the troubling stats get the red treatment. Coach Jerome Allen got the pace he wanted, between 61-62 possessions, which suggests the 'Cats were unable to unleash their best offensive weapon against the Quakes -- speed. No team had a sustained run. Of the 10 four minute segments, Villanova "won" eight (four in each half), but the largest margin in any segment was five -- for Villanova in the eight-to-four minute segment of the first half. The Wildcats' poor three point conversion rate continues to concern, but like all but the Tennessee game, lack of perimeter fire power tends to impact the winning margin far more than the won-loss columns. Corey Stokes went 5-9, while the rest of the squad (Cheek, Fisher and Wayns) went 0-8.

Notes & Observations
1. Corey Stokes again led the team with a game-high (and career-high) 34 points on 11-15 (5-9, 6-6) and 7-8 shooting. Stokes recorded 19 points against Saint Joseph's last Friday. The senior wing scored his 1,000th point midway through the first half, becoming the 52nd Villanovan to score more than 1,000 points over his career. Stokes also grabbed four rebounds, dished two assists and had two turnovers in 35 minutes of play.
2. Senior forward Antonio Pena missed his nineth double-double as a Villanovan by two rebounds. Pena scored 16 points on 7-10 (7-10, 0-0) and 2-2 shooting while gathering eight rebounds (2-6-8) in 36 minutes of play.
3. Some in attendance noted Penn unveiled a 1-3-1 defense, hardly surprising given Tennessee's success in closing down the lane to Fisher and Stokes in the Garden last month. I suspect the 'Cats will, until the staff develops an effective counter, see quite a few variations on that trap & defense.
4. For those used to the take 'em offense of 2006, the Villanova offense of late must seem strange. Penn is the second consecutive game where the assist rate (Ast%) is greater than 70%, the fourth consecutive game where the rate is greater than 60%. Villanova's assist rate has been 50% or greater in seven of the eight games played so far this season.
5. The team points per weighted shot (PPWS) was a strong 1.20, reflecting a healthy ratio of free throws (and conversions) to field goal attempts. While a number of players had poor PPWSs (see below), those players taking up the responsibility to provide offense (Pena and Stokes principally) had a very efficient night.

Player% MinPoss %Shot%PPWSeFG%TO%Ast%
Pena, Antonio90.
Yarou, Mouphtaou57.513.711.
Wayns, Maalik32.533.127.40.5025.030.248.8
Cheek, Dominic67.519.523.00.5728.612.30.0
Stokes, Corey87.530.138.11.8190.012.324.2
Fisher, Corey92.524.014.40.5416.736.631.0

Pena and Stokes, the most efficient Wildcats in this game received most of the shots (note Shot% column) and possessions (note the Poss% column). Players having an off night (Cheek, Yarou and Fisher) stepped back and provided other elements necessary for the win. Fish in particular grabbed six rebounds, a very rare occurance. Wayns, injured at the end of the first half and subsequently held out for the second half, would most likely have seen his Poss% drop had he played in the second half. Also not Wayns' and Fisher's assist rate, another element both provided in the absence of converted field goal attempts.

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