1,000 Points and Counting
Trading buckets with Marquette, with just over a double digit lead, Corey Fisher took a rainbow pass and turned to drive the lane with 10:13 left in the game. He paused and elevated just outside of the foul line for what looked for all the world like a field goal attempt. At least that is what the two Marquette defenders thought as they converged on Fish. Fish however had other thoughts, and spotting Antonio Pena sweepping unguarded inside of the arc that separates two's from three's, the senior point guard lofted a pass to his classmate who took another step or two, caught the pass and elevated, seemingly in a single uninterrupted motion and launched a field goarl attempt of his own. Nothing but net as Villanova pushed the lead out to 14 for the second (and last) time in the half. Villanova's senior forward went on to score four more points in the game, bringing his total to 14. But points nine and ten counted as points 999 & 1,000 in Pena's career at Villanova. Though the Wildcats had half of the second period to play, Pena's milestone seemed to be the climax of the game. Marquette coach Buzz Williams called a timeout after Chris Otule's layup, and subbed in his "rebounding" team, Joe Fulce and Jae Crowder. Over the next two possessions the Warriors worked Villanova's lead back to single digits. By continuously substituting on nearly every possession change, the Marquette coach alternately called for presses on the Villanova guards and defensive board crashing against Villanova's bigs, and over the last seven minutes of the game managed to nibble down on Villanova's lead by one and two point chuncks. Double technicals on Isaiah Armwood and Jae Crowder, and a fifth foul on Crowder two minutes later -- with 2:29 still to play and Villanova up by six -- seemed to tilt the board advantage decisively back to Villanova, and the Wildcats preserved that edge, complements of 7-9 shooting from the line.
The Villanova blogosphere has gone about their business of reporting/commenting on the result. VUHoops.com posted two pieces in the hours since the game, their recap with player/team grades...and a bit of a comment with the headline "Another Close Call". The morning brought a more reflective piece from Frank, "The Morning After: Marquette". The Nova Blog also posted a morning after piece (which reminded me a bit of my undergraduate days many, many years ago) Nova...Pena...The Good, The Bad & The Ugly -- is this Chris' "movie period"? Throw Your V's Up continues to map scoring differentials as the game progresses. He maps the Marquette game and provides a number of astute observations about the players. The Marquette blogosphere has a few posts, led by the signature blog, Cracked Sidewalks. Tim Blair penned a Marquette-centric recap that laments the Warrors' defensive lapses. Ink journalist Tod Roziak penned a set of post game notes in his Golden Eagle Blog, as a complement to his newspaper game recap. The Athletic Department website posted the official boxscore and the AP wire story, "No. 12 Wildcats Tops Marquette, 75-70". The breakdown by halves...
Green and red are used again here to highlight elements that were above or below season-long performance levels. The table takes on the appearance of a bi-polar Christmas decoration, with "good" and "bad" delineated by halves. Both teams made half-time adjustments, and they, to varying degrees, met their objectives. Both teams emphasized defensive rebounding in the first half, and it worked as each limited the other to <30% of their missed field goal attempts. The adjustment towards offensive rebounding in the second half boosted each squad's numbers under their respective baskets, with the counter effect of giving away rebounds at the other end. Is the Nova Nation marking the passing of the "Shoot 'em up" game strategy? Five of the past six games the team has played for fewer than projected (per Ken Pomeroy -- see "Schedule" section on the Team Page) possessions and in three of the five games the "miscalculation" was by 5, an 8% deviation from the projection. The only game where the 'Cats were above the projection was Providence (and we remember how that went). Couple more minutes for Mouphtaou Yarou & his pairing with Antonio Pena with a more deliberate pace and we are watching this team transition to a more deliberate, half-court friendly style of play? The next few games, especially against Pittsburgh on 2/12, should tell. .
This & That
1. The Wildcats used nine players, but only six received 10 or more minutes of playing time. The PT differential was stark. Maalik Wayns, the rotation player who received the smallest double digit allocation drew 27 minutes (tied with surprise starter Isaiah Armwood), while the next nearest in the rotation, James Bell, received four minutes. Dom Cheek and Mo Sutton, the last two off the bench, received more time in the second half than the first, earned two and three minutes respectively. The disparity in minutes seems strange given the minute distribution in games throughout the season, but Throw Your V's Up may have an explanation. In a look at the efficiency of the rotation, the blogger concluded the bench was extremely inconsistent. Staring at a 14 point advantage, the staff may have been thinking that it was time to give the bench some run, but at the game tightened quickly from the 10:13 mark in, the staff may have held off.
2. In a game that saw Antonio Pena became the 54th player to score more than 1,000 points in his career, Corey Fisher scored his 1,500th point, becoming the 25th Villanova men's player to do so. Noted in the AP story at the top, Fisher, Stokes and Pena are the second trio of seniors in team history to pass the 1,000 point mark. Corey Stokes has scored 1,216 points through the Marquette game.
3. Sophomore Mouphtaou Yarou paced the team with a game-high 18 points, the first time the center scored game-high points in his college career. Mouph was a terrific 5-8 from the field (a 62.5% eFG%) and (even better...) 8-10 from the line, for a 1.41 PPWS. Jimmy Butler and Darius Odom-Johnson paced Marquette with 15 points apiece. Fish chipped in 17 points on 5-11 shooting (1-4 from 3, 4-7 from 2 -- a 50% eFG%) and 6-6 from the line for a 1.23 PPWS.
Records, Next Up...
Villanova's records stand at 18-4 overall and 6-3 in conference. Marquette drops to 14-9 overall, 5-5 in conference play. The Warriors are 5-5 in their last 10 games, 1-3 in their last four. Villanova readies for the last game in this home stand, as they host West Virginia on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. Marquette, having two more games to do on their road trip, takes a week off, and then swings South to Florida for a game with the South Florida Bulls next Wednesday (2/9), then north (relative to Florida) to visit Georgetown the following Saturday (2/13).