Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Post Game: Marquette -- Value the Ball

The silence across the Nova Blogosphere is deafening. Blame it on midterms, or on another inconsistent outing, this time last night at the Wach, or maybe the growing realization that the number of scenarios that have the 'Cats dancing this post season are shrinking. Rapidly. As of late morning, only Tim over at Nova News has produced a recap/analysis of Villanova's defeat at the hands of Marquette. His post, "#21 Marquette Defeats Villanova" contains a good recap of the action with an emphasis on scoring and rebounding. Hopefully the I Bleed Blue and White Blog and the Let's Go Nova Blog will post their recaps and evaluations/thoughts shortly -- be sure to check with them sometime today. Fans who want more will have work over Joe Juliano's story in this morning's Inky, or Rich Hoffman's arithmetic exercise. The official Athletic Department website has the usual AP wire story, "Wildcats Fall to No. 21 Marquette" posted, along with the box score (I think that is the first time I have seen a box score explain the substitution of an official...). As Nova New blogger Tim notes, the team wore their white throwback jerseys for the third consecutive home game, with a different effect. The 'Cats did turned in another strong defensive effort in the first half. But their "good enough" effort in the second half was just not good enough. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

The first thing that caught my eye was the pace -- it was not only into the 70's, but the pace picked up from the first half to the second half. Both suggest a lack of "game control" by the Wildcats. Teams that lead (especially home teams) want to decrease the number of possessions half-over-half. Doing so limits their opponents' oppertunities for a comeback (more possessions, more opportunities to score and, with defense, cut the lead...). Villanova's raw pace, per Ken Pomeroy's Villanova Scout Page, is 69.0. My calculations for possessions in Big East conference games is 68.9. In the six Big East games where the pace has been >= 70 Villanova has posted a 2-4 record. The Wildcats turned in some very strong defensive numbers in the first half. The 89.3 rating means Marquette scored fewer than 1 point per possession for the half. The culprits (for Marquette) appear to be mediocre shooting (51.9), combined with relatively high turnovers (25.1) and little offensive rebounding (20.0). Rebounding and turnovers have been a good barometer for determining how effective Villanova's defense has been; it appears to have been working well in that first half. Villanova's own offensive numbers were unexpectedly strong -- eFG was over 60 and their offensive rebounding rate (OR%) was 40.0 (good sign their offense is working). The 7 point halftime lead hid obscured several troubling signs in their offensive stats -- Nova's offensive rating (107.5) should have been higher, much higher, given their scoring efficiency and rebounding (second chance points). Joe Juliano touched on in his story by relating the last possessions of the first half, Maurice Acker stole the ball on an outlet pass and was fouled with about a second on the clock. A 9 point lead became a 7 point lead. Villanova had about 36 possessions in the half, but only 24 of them resulted in an attempt to score. The others were turnovers. Had Villanova's turnover numbers tracked more closely to those of the past 3 - 4 games, the 'Cats may well have taken a 13 point lead into the locker room. Compare Marquette's second half eFG%, OR% and FTM/FGA to Villanova's first half stats (all are highlighted in green). While not exact, the numbers are fairly close. Now check the rating -- why did Marquette post a 146.9 while Villanova posted a 107.5? Check out the TORate (33.1 vs. 8.3). Value the ball, value the ball, value the ball...

Marquette's steal rate for the game, 19.9, was higher than they usually get, but pretty consistent with their ranking in that catagory (9th in D1 according to Pomeroy's Marquette Scout Page). Villanova dominated the boards, but this has not been a marker for Marquette's success. Perhaps in a closer game this would have mattered. Marquette shot very well, a problem area for them in the Big East season. This was not a career night, but their eFG (58.6) was well above their Big East number (about 49.3). Poor shot defense is a marker for some of Villanova's difficulties on defense. Marquette's shot mix (2s to 3s), 60.7 - 39.3, was tilted a bit more than usual towards the 2 point shot. (Big East only -- 65.5 - 34.5), but the point mix (2s-3s-FTMs), at 44.7-35.3-20.0, reflected a higher than average ratio of points from 3FGAs. The result no doubt of a very good night of shooting from the arc.

Odds and Ends...
1. I did not check the official game notes yet (probably mentioned there as well), Dante Cunninghame recorded his 5th double-double of the season. The 'Cats are 4-1 when Cunningham's points and rebounds are north of 9.
2. Tim (Nova News Blog) noted that Corey Fisher had a career high 8 assists against MU. Corey's previous high was 6 assists in the West Virginia last Wednesday. Fisher's assist-to-turnover ratio is a healthy 1.48:1.
3. Corey Stokes' shooting continues to be incredibly efficient. His eFG% for this game was 75.0 on 4-6 (1-3, 3-3) shooting. This marks the 5th straight game that his eFG% has been >= 50.0, and raises his season-long eFG% to 45.8 (yes, there have been a few ugly nights on the way). Corey also logged a PPWS of 1.65. He started the season with his PPWS at .66, and he has reaised it to 0.98 so far. 1.00 is considered good, especially for a freshman. While he played 62.5% of the minutes, he only took 16.6% of the shots while he was on the floor.
4. It is a bit unusual to find referees work in the same crew 2 or more times during the regular season, but it happen last night. J. D. Collins and Pat Driscoll also worked the second Pittsburgh game. The Wildcats are 0-2 this season with Driscoll (10-5 over the past 3 seasons) and Collins (2-0 over the past 3 seasons). Nova's record this season is 1-2 with Tim Higgins, the third member of the crew.


Rob Lowe said...

Just wanted to say that I really enjoy the analysis that you do here. We made sure to add a link to this post on Cracked Sidewalks.

Stats guys need to stick together. Best of luck to Villanova the rest of the way.

VUhoops.com said...

Did you notice that Wally Rutecki "started" the game before Driscoll showed up?

greyCat said...

Yes, I did notice the Rutecki-for-Driscoll substitution VUHoops.com. My (which I now realize was far too obscure) reference to the "substitute referee" in the first paragraph of my post was about that situation. I have read quite a few boxscores over time and cannot remember a notation about a referee substitution. I have been tracking referee crews covering Villanova games for the past 3 or 4 years, and had to think about how I wanted to handle that (I decided to leave a note in my stats, but not credit Rutecki with fouls, etc. as I do the members of the crew). The 'Cats may have been better off if that traffic jam had been a bit worse. They are 1-0 this season when Rutecki is a member of the crew.

Thanks for the nod Henry. I have been a big fan of Cracked Sidewalks over the years. Your breakdown of individual game possessions, points credited and Offensive/Defensive ratings is especially impressive. The whole crew at Cracked Sidewalks must put in a lot time and effort to cover the Marquette team. And the results are consistently outstanding.