Monmouth cashiered 13 year head coach Dave Calloway last spring, the culmination of a frustrating five year run of sub 0.500 seasons. Calloway's successor, King Rice, racked up 19 years through four stops before picking up the reins at Monmouth. His first order of business was fulfilling a return date obligation to Villanova, the result of a (nearly...) Christmas Eve game at Monmouth last season. The Wildcats' downed the Hawks in 36 point, 106-70 rout highlighted by a career-high 27 points by junior wing Dominic Cheek, nearly matched by a career-high 24 points by junior center Mouphtaou Yarou. The 106 point outburst was the second most scored in opening night game, a distinction I am sure Rice will remember.
The University site posted their AP wire story. The official website also posted the boxscore, thank heaven. The breakdown by halves
This one is very simple -- just a sea of green (positive stats) on both sides of the ball. If there is room for improvement, look to the Hawks' first half shot efficiency (eFG%), a strong 50% based entirely on an 11-14 two point conversion rate, and largely offset by a brutal 3-15 three point conversion rate. A 51.5% free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in the second half may well be credited to a lead that fluctuated between 20 and 40 points through virtually the entire second half. Especially strong on the night, offensive shot efficiency and rebounding -- at both ends of the court.
Half Time Adjustments
If the Wildcats' scorching offense, responsible for nearly 1.5 points per possession, cooled off a bit in the second half, the 'Cats were able to turn up their defense, holding the Hawks to an even tighter 0.86 points per possession defense, down over 0.024 points per possession over their first half. Those looking for a clue on the relative importance of shot efficiency (eFG%) versus the other three factors -- offensive rebounding rate (OR%), turnover rate (TO%) and defensive fouling (FTA/FGA) can come to only one conclusion -- that the eFG% is the strongest determinant of the defensive efficiency rating. Though Monmouth registered improved numbers in turnovers, rebounding and getting to the line, their conversion efficiency declined due entirely to the dramatic decline in shot efficiency (eFG%).
Notes & Observations
1. A worrisome 40% possession rate by point guard Maalik Wayns was much lower versus the Hawks (25.2%), accompanied by an improved offensive efficiency rating for the junior point guard (109.7).
2. The staff emptied the bench, running all 12 rostered players through the game at one point or another. The juniors and James Bell logged at least 60% of the allocated time, with JayVaughn Pinkston getting a 21 minutes run (53.5% of the available minutes on the wing).
3. Markus Kennedy's promising outing lasted a too brief 16 minutes, due no small part to the four fouls he picked up...that's about one every four minutes.