Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Penn Post Game: Progress

The opening salvo of the Big 5 season was pretty uncompetitive as Villanova handled Penn 69-47 at the Palestra. Dwayne Anderson's return to action in the 2008-09 season has been the focus on what otherwise was a pretty uneventful game. As noted by Tim over at Nova News, "...he did knock down a 3-pointer and grabbed a rebound. It's great to finally see him back out on the court..." [Nova Quakes Penn]. Check out Chris' reflections on the game over at IBBW; he has posted another good synopsis of the action with notes about key players for both teams. Pete over at Let's Go Nova Blog ran a live blogging session from the Palestra(? -- were you at the game Pete?). I was not able to get over during the game, but the chat record is pretty interesting. I will try to get over if you do that again Pete...

The Official website published the usual AP wirestory along with the box score. And Mike Sheridan produced his usual high quality set of Post Game Notes. For the number-lovers, Mike has listed the years and best starts for Villanova teams. He also notes the Wildcat's recent success in the Palestra. I was surprised to learn the 'Cats have taken 9 of their last 10 Palestra games. Mike's notes are definitely worth a look. The box by halves...

 Offense Defense

Half-over-half Progress
The defense showed improved last night. The Quaker's shot efficiency (eFG%) declined by about 24%, a fairly steep dropoff given their shooting woes in the first half (40% eFG% is below their 48% average going into last night's game). Their offensive collapse (or Villanova defensive dominance...which ever interpretation you want to put on what transpired after the half...) would have been far, far worse had the Quakers not been able to get to the free throw line. Penn received 10 more FTAs in the second half than they received in the first. Those 9 converted free throws translated into 39.1% of their second half point total. What the Qs gained from improved offensive rebounding they gave back on turnovers. If the result was similar to last season's 26 point rout at the Pavilion, the supporting data show that Nova's defense has improved year-over-year. Penn's offensive rating 81.6 as opposed to this season's 68.7. Villanova's offensive decline is a bit puzzling, but, like Penn, tracable to the Wildcat's declining eFG%.

1. Offensive rebounding numbers are eye grabbing, but hardly shocking given that as a POT, Penn was not going to rebound well against the 'Cats. The two stats to feel good about were Penn's eFG%, both halves, and Penn's second half turnover rate. The Qs have not been lights out shooters, but Nova's shot defense has been the subject of heartburn for three seasons running. Holding Penn to 40 and less for two halves is great.
2. As recorded in Mike Sheridan's Post Game Notes, Dante Cunningham notched his third double-double of the season.
3. Dante Cunningham's performance has been the buzz throughout the Nova Nation today. And with good reason as Dante posted some very impressive shooting numbers, but more significantly, he became the #1 option on offense last night. Whether by design (which I suspect) or accident, Dante, Antonio and Shane each took about 25% (or more...) of the shots when each was on the floor. Given that two of the three played virtually the entire game, that means the Nova front court took about 50% (or more) of the shots throughtout the game. Villanova's gamelong assist rate was 62.5 last night, the guards fed the front court, and the front court delivered.
4. Corey Fisher posted another quite but strong all around game. Fish scored 11 points on 4-8 (2-4, 2-4, 1-3) shooting, dished an assist and picked up 2 rebounds(!) and 2 steals in 28 minutes. His overall contribution was balanced, but his shooting was particularly efficient -- 62.5 (eFG%) and 1.17 (PPWS).

Ref Notes
Jim Haney, Wally Rutecki and Michael Stephens were well behaved tonight. This was one of the lowest fouling games this season with each side whistled for 16 personal fouls. Penn did get an extra free throw, but down 20+ for most of the evening, one free throw was negligible.

Roster Notes
Villanova --
1. Dwayne Anderson returned to action tonight at te Palestra. Dwayne scored 3 points on 1-1 shooting and grabbed a rebound (and lost a turnover...) in 7 minutes of play.
2. Casiem Drummond the junior center who left the team earlier this week is variously rumored to Marist, St. Peter's and Iona.

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