Saturday, January 26, 2008

Post Game: Rutgers -- Dancing with the Devil

As the result indicates, there is a good deal more work for this Wildcat team to do before the end of the Big East season. The 2006 team which went on to earn a #1 seed traveled to Piscataway and escaped with an overtime win over the Scarlet Knights. This year's edition was not as fortunate as Rutgers, a team that had failed to earn a victory in six previous Big East outings, hung a 12 point loss on the squad. The news was not taken well in the Nova Nation nor the Nova Blogshere, as postings like "Meltdown" from the Let's Go Nova Blog and "Disgusted" from the I Bleed Blue and White Blog capture the reaction. So what happened?

Offense Defense

Evidence of the "usual" half time adjustments are there:
1. Rutgers' ORtg% & eFG% declined. And similar to previous opponents, the decline was rather dramatic.
2. Villanova's steal rate increased over the half. More evidence of defensive pressure.
But clearly Rutgers had a half time adjustment or two to install as well:
1. Villanova's own ORtg% & eFG% declined (also rather dramatically...) over the half.
2. Note the significant half-over-half increase in pace. It is an uncommon development that in the past (the Drexel game in 2006-07 comes to mind) has signals the opponent's half-time adjustments gave the 'Cats some significant problems of their own.
3. Rutgers' OR% (offensive rebound rate)increased. With defensive adjustments this should have dropped.

Also note the significant increase in FTA/FGA. Rutgers (like Villanova did at Syracuse the previous weekend) lived at the line in the second half. Are the two related? It turns out that Coach Hill played both N'Diaye and Joynes for a critical stretch during the second half. These two are the Scarlet Knights' best rebounders and frankly I never thought Hill would play both (see my preview...) simultaneously. An interesting development that appears to have also resulted in shutting down Villanova's offensive rebounding (note the second half decline). If the Wildcats did not review their outings against Cincinnati and DePaul, two teams with larger and more active front court players, maybe Coach Hill did.

Pomeroy ranks the Wildcats #329 out of 341 in youth. I think the recent string of Big East road games confirms this group has a good deal of maturing to do over the next month. The tendency to "start slowly" and put themselves into double digit disadvantages in the first half has resulted in losses 3 of 4 times. Relying on the halftime adjustment to make the game competitive is not the long term solution.

1 comment:

pete said...

I agree with your analysis.