Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saint Joseph's Post Game -- Holy War, 2010-11

Holy...Difference of Opinion?
The Hawks of Saint Joseph's held the lead over the Wildcats of Villanova for the first 4:30 of the game, relinquishing the lead briefly to regain it at the 13:53 mark. They would hold it for only 30 seconds more before releasing it for the last time. For the next 33 and half minutes the question was only by how much the Wildcats would win. The answer turned out to be 11, as Villanova won 71-60 and ran their Big 5 record to 2-0 for 2010-11. The Wildcats took a 10 point lead into the break, Mouphtaou Yarou missed a layup at the 0:01 mark that would have given the 'Cats an even dozen.

The second half saw the Wildcats push the lead out to 20 at the 6:38 mark and then go a stone-cold 1-6 from the field with three turnovers to let Saint Joseph's nibble away at the margin on 5-8 shooting.

Mike over at did the honors with a brief recap. Chris at the Nova Blog ran an open thread, but truth be told even the VUSports Bench Warmers board did not draw many comments. Villanova Viewpoint Publisher has yet to recap, but he did post a detailed history of the series as a preview for tonight's game. Fact over at the Fact on Villanova blog had a completely different take on the series. It is valued only by the over 50 crowd (I confess I did not know the Villanova Viewpoint Publisher was that old...).

The official website posted the official boxscore and the AP wire story, which for the first time in memory offered a mild criticism of the effort with "...Villanova won despite another lousy shooting night and a lackadaisical performance down the stretch. It shot 39 percent, including 7 for 23 on 3s...". The breakdown by halves...

OpponentSaint Joseph's University 
 Offense Defense

The "good" stats get some green highlighting while the "bad" ones get the red treatment. I will go over a few of the high and low points below, but the stat that caught my attention at the break and into the second half (I tracked possessions and Oliver's Four Factors for 10 minutes into the second half) was the pace. At just under 34 possessions for the half the two teams appeared on track (more or less) to get Pomeroy's projected 71 possessions for the game. The second half often yields a few more possessions than the first, especially if the team that is down is capable or pushing the pace. 28-29 possessions was well below the anticipated pace, but consistent with Villanova's very short bench (see Roster Moves at the end) and a strong desire to keep the regular rotation resh at the end of the game. The other stats that jumpted out after the game was the poor shot conversion rate (eFG%) relative to the offensive rating for the team (the Rating -- divide by 100 to compute the points per possession). The paradox is the comparision of those two numbers -- the 'Cats converted shots very poorly "...lousy shooting...", but the nevertheless very strong offensive rating. The heart of the system is shot conversion, so what gives? The next two most important stats, turnover rate and offensive rebounding, are very strong.

Notes & Observations
1. Low PPWSs for the Cats suggest the team was not converting shots nor getting to the line consistently. The low eFG% confirms the low conversion rate, and the lower than expected FTA/FGA in the first half confirms when the 'Cats did not convert from the field, the refs were not bailing them out.
2. The Wildcats had four squad members in double digits, with Corey Stokes leading the team with 19 points on 6-15 (3-9, 3-6) and 2-2 shooting. The senior guard also snagged eight rebounds and accounted for a steal, a block, a dime and an assist.
3. Senior forward Antonio Pena logged his eighth double-double as a Villanovan (and first this season), scoring 14 points on 7-9 (7-9, 0-0) and 0-1 shooting while gathering 14 rebounds (3-11-14) in 34 minutes of play.
4. The second half assist rate (percentage of made field goals came through an assist) was over 90%, extremely high and a radical departure from the days of the "take 'em" offense.

Roster Moves
Sophomore Maurice Sutton is walking with a boot on his right ankle. Official word is that it is sprained, but speculation is that it is fractured. Sophomore Isaiah Armwood was DNP due to back spasms, while freshmen JayVaughn Pinkston was DNQ again. Freshman James Bell warmed up, and followed his minute or two of action in the Tennessee game with 11 minutes of play, off the bench, against the Hawks. Pinkston is apparantly somewhere in an appeals process for his assault citations, though rumors persist that he is done for the year. The rotation tonight was seven players, with everyone of them receiving at least 10 minutes.

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