Friday, February 1, 2008

Post Game: Pittsburgh -- Ground Hog Day... Again

This young 'Cat squad is 1-4 on the road now. In truth winning at Pittsburgh, even with a fully functional, experienced team, would have been a stretch. The Let's Go Nova Blog carries a full recap and a searching review Malcolm Grants's role to date in his entry "Grant rides pine as 'Nova drops 3rd straight". The 3 game slide has been a source of frusturation for many Villanova fans, not to mention the flash point for quite a few message board rants. So what happened this time?...

 Offense Defense

While a few of the details are different, the trend still holds -- the Wildcats go down early and spend a good part of the game trying to get back into it. Note Villanova's Rating (that's the Wildcat's offense) of 66.9 for the first half. That is excruciatingly inefficient. Had the Panthers own Rating been better than 82.4, Villanova would have been in a hole considerably deeper than 10 points going into the lockroom. In fact that 82.4 as a defensive rating would be very good. The Panthers shot poorly (eFG% was 38.5) and turned the ball over an appalling amount of times (TORate was 34.1). So why wasn't the score closer? Pittsburgh compensated by getting to the free throw line even in the first half (note their FTA/FGA was 50.0) and they did a good job of rebounding their misses (OR% was 52.9). As with previous efforts, the 'Cats improved in the second half. Unfortunately Pittsburgh had adjustments of their own, and like the Irish last weekend, they were able to improve on their first half numbers (and beat Villanova over both halves...). This is one of several recurring stats over the past few games. Note that Pitt lived at the line, their FTA/FGA in the second half was 104.8, suggesting they had more free throws than field goal attempts. As before, the stat is inflated slightly because of late game fouling, but the trend for the half was in place before the last 3 minutes. Hopefully the 'Cats will start faster against the Orange on Saturday.

Odd and Ends...
Antonio Pena scored his first double-double of the season when he grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his 10 points. Though his scoring was not especially efficient (his PPWS for the game was 0.63, well below 1.00 that serves as a baseline for efficient scoring & his eFG% was a 26.7 -- baseline for eFG is about 50.0...). Since starting the past 5 games he has put together 3 strong performances and had only one relatively poor outing (Rutgers). His progress may be one of the silver linings of this period.
Casiem Drummond -- appeared for 7 minutes. Maybe this will mark the beginning of the road back for Cas.
Dwayne Anderson -- played a season high 23 minutes.

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