A Second Look
Villanova SID Mike Sheridan posted his recap of Villanova's win over Israel (many thanks, it is his usual super job) at the Athletic Department website. Mike was kind enough to include a box score which contains enough information to do a possession-based analysis...
The four factors breakdown echos a few of the strengths (and weaknesses) of the past few seasons. The pace (calculated number of possessions) was consistent with an exhibition game -- just under 20% more than Wildcat fans can expect in a regular season game. Villanova's 1.15 points per possession (ppp) was consistent with last season, but allowing the Israelis 1.13 ppp was a bit high. Unlike the past few seasons however, the defensive breakdown was only partially due to shot defense (the Israelis scored at a 56.7% efficiency), but also due to their offensive rebounding (34.3% -- a bit higher than the Division 1 average) and unusually low turnover rate (18.4% -- a bit low over prior seasons). If Villanova's staff is unhappy about the somewhat passive defense (see Israel's offensive rebounding rate and turnover rate), they have to be happy about the lack of fouling (13.9%), a problem that hit a tipping point in 2010.
If the lack of defense is a strong game trait, how did Villanova win? Through shot efficiency. As Mike's recap points out, Villanova hit 63% of their field goals attempts and that includes three point attempts. The Wildcats' offensive rebounding rate (25.0%) is unusually low for a team that usually ranks in the top half of the Big East (a very competitive conference for board work), but given the high shot conversion efficiency, it did not diminish the Cats' chances to win. The team's eFG% of 70% reflects the very high conversion rate for three's and two's. Comparing shot efficienies (70% vs 56.7%) one would have to ask why the margin of victory was so small, but a comparison of the turnover rates (27% vs 18.4%) -- and rebounding -- suggests that Villanova's lost possessions and Israel's aggression on the boards were the equalizers.
Though assured by the event promoters that box scores would be available, they have yet to be posted. But I did run across the video (below) of about seven minutes of game action...
Despite leading off with one of Maalik Wayns' two 3FGMs -- the junior used a screen to lscrape his defender off, then stepped back nicely to hit the shot as the defender closed (and fouled him) -- most of Villanova's offensive possessions shown feature dribble penetration (with a strong finish by Cheek at the rim in one sequence), FGAs in transition (solid outlet pass from Yarou in one sequence) or low post entry passes. The defensive sequences suggested some aggressive defensive rebounding by Villanova's back court contingent and (unfortunately) several slow close outs on three point attempts...a side effect of packing the lane to prevent dribble penetration. Those pining to see Jayvaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard in the Blue and White will see the two working hard on defense (Pinkston is #22) with Hilliard finishing an offensive sequence at the rim (he is #4).
Euro Jam standings through the first round...
The Wildcats will play the Netherlands National Team Saturday around 2 pm Eastern time, while Georgia and Israel will play the undercard.
Two recaps (I did not include the sports brief treatment at philly.com)...
The official recap can be found at the Villanova website.
Joe Juliani from the Inky penned recap on the Super Nova blog over at philly.com
(h/t to Mike Sheridan for his recap and box score information)