Sunday, February 6, 2011

West Virginia Post Game: Scoring Droughts

Shot Defense?
West Virginia was up 10-6 when guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant picked up his second foul at the 13:30 mark of the first half. The guard, having missed a three point attempt on West Virginia's previous possession went straight at the bucket with the idea of making it 12-6 West Virginia, ran over Corey Fisher and picked up the charge. Coach Bob Huggins sat him, and Villanova West Virginia, two minutes into a shooting drought that lasted seven more minutes, missed another 12 field goal attempts over their next 11 possessions while Villanova launched a 14-2 run to overtake the Mountaineers and build a six point lead with nearly six minutes left in the half. The Wildcats closed out the half with another 12-7 run, taking a 30-19 lead into the locker room. Villanova defense or West Virginia offense? "Look, they (Villanova) are a Top 20 team, maybe a Top 5 team" responded Coach Huggins "...but we have to make shots...Jones made some shots...Bryant made some shots...but we need others to make shots". And the Moutaineers had a second dry run through nearly eight minutes of the second half. Having nibbled two points off of Villanova's lead (47-40) and with just over 11 minutes left in the game, West Virgninia went 1-11 and 1-4 from the line over an eight minut stretch as Villanova blew the game open with a 17-3 run that made the score 64-43 with just over three minutes left.

The Villanova blogosphere has several post game contributions. posted their usual recap with player/team grades. The Nova Blog also posted a recap that echoed Coach Wright's sentiments about Villanova's back court ("I would not trade them for anyone"). The Moutaineer blogosphere is quiet tonight, Smoking Musket Blog posted an open thread for the game, but no recap yet. The Athletic Department website posted the official boxscore and the AP wire story, "No. 12 Villanova Tops No. 25 West Virginia, 66-50". The breakdown by halves...

Opponent:West Virginia University
 Offense Defense
1st2ndGame 1st2ndGame

Green and red are used again here to highlight elements that were above or below season-long performance levels. While it seems the team stopped defending in the second half, remember each was dealing with half-time adjustments. Villanova may appear to have called off the dogs in the second half, but remember they had a nine point leading going into the intermission, and had an outstanding offensive half, which mitigated their own lapses. This game is more evidence that the "Shoot 'em up" game strategy is giving way to a more traditional motion offense promoted by Coach Wright when he first took the reins at Villanova. At 50/51 possessions, this is the lowest possession game played by Villanova this season. Recaps in the ink and electronic media may touch on West Virginia's lowest point total of the season, but consider the Mountaineers had 50/51 possessions with which to work. WVU produced an offensive efficiency similar to their outing against Duquesne and better then their (point per possession) yield versus Seton Hall, South Florida and Louisville -- they are 3-1 in the four games cited -- their failing was defense. They simply could not contain/control Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns, Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yaour. Continuing with a theme raised in the past few post game pieces, this marks the sixth of the last seven games in which the team has played for fewer than projected (per Ken Pomeroy -- see "Schedule" section on the Team Page) possessions. The deviation, (-14 or a whopping 12% below projected) is far larger than previous differences. As mentioned in the Marquette post game analysis, when we couple more minutes for Mouphtaou Yarou & his pairing with Antonio Pena and the additional time for Isaiah Armwood, with a more deliberate pace and we are watching this team transition to a more deliberate, half-court friendly style of play. The Pittsburgh game may make paint drying seem like a speed sport.

Random Notes/Thoughts
1. The Wildcats used eight players, seven of whom received 10 or more minutes of playing time. The PT differential ranged from 36 (Antonio Pena -- not the first time the senior forward pulled down the most minutes) down to 19 (Dom Cheek who grabbed a team-high nine rebounds) was closer than the Marquette game. Four players Pena, Yarou, Stokes and Fisher logged 30 or more minutes, more evidence the staff is moving towards a "tournament/post season" mode of player rotation.

2. Maalik Wayns came off the bench for the second consecutive game. He was asked directly in the post game press conference about his feelings on the move, and the sophmore seemed to take the move in stride and look at the advantages. The Armwood-for-Wayns switch gives the starting five a very traditional, two guard, two forward and one center, look and feel.
3. Lost in the 16 point win is the lack of point production from the line. Gathering a total of nine points from free throws would normally set off alarm bells. The point distribution (see above -- 54.5%, 34.8% and 13.6% for two point, three point and free throw is dispropotionately high for threes and low for free throws. Consider however, that the Wildcats were 7-14 from beyond the arc, an unusually proficient 50%, even as they were 9-15 (60%) from the charity stripe. The total number of free throws was lower than average, but the 'Cats also missed many more chances than usual.

Records, Next Up...
Villanova's records stand at 19-4 overall and 7-3 in conference. The Wildcats lost no more ground to Pitt, and maintained pace with Notre Dame & Louisville (they have a tie breaker advantage over Louisville). West Virginia drops to 15-7 overall, 6-4 in conference play, and into a tie for seventh place with Connecticut. Villanova takes a mid-week run out to New Jersey to play Rutgers, before returning to campus to play Pittsburgh in an ESPN-driven GameDay at the Pavilion. West Virginia has a rendevouz of their own with Pitt, on one day's rest, at the Coliseum next Monday, then a second home date next Saturday with DePaul (2/13).

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