Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Texas Post Game: Reality Check

Andy Katz's blog post from 12/09/08 (you have to dig down for it...about 2/3 into the post...) said it all -- "Please tell me what Villanova has done so far this season to be ranked No. 12?". The Wildcats gave Katz their answer last night.

The Official website published the AP wirestory, which provided a quick analysis of the game. Mike Sheridan published another edition of his Post Game Notes feature (he cites the defense...), and those who look to the official box score for additional information are in for their second disappointment of the day. The Jimmy V boxes do not provide the play-by-play feature nor the breakdown by half. The Four Factors look, therefore goes no deeper than the 40 minute game...

 Offense Defense

Missed Opportunities...
Defense was the principle feature of the game -- for both teams. The 'Horns held the 'Cats to 0.84 points per possession, consistent with their Defensive Rating, and consistent with how I suspected the game would play out. The 'Cats were also able to keep the 'Horns below 1.0 points per possession (PPP), consistent with good (but not elite...) defense. The PPWS for both teams (orange highlight above) was identical (0.94), that is, for each FGA taken, the point yield for each team was the same. The difference in total points then came from fewer FGAs for Villanova, derived from possessions (as Ray Floriani points out in his post below -- its the turnover!), see the TO Rate (blue highlight) above, at 27.2 that is way too high. And second chance points. The 'Cats did an uncharacteristically poor job of rebounding, doing no better than average on their offensive boards, and very poor on their defensive boards (Texas' offensive boards). The last element, highlighted in red above, is free throws. Historically the Wildcats have benefited from a free throw attempt differential. And the opportunity was available last night, as the 'Cats go to the line for every 2 field goal attempts they took. But note the 20 point difference between their FTA/FGA and FTM/FGA. Had the 'Cats converted a high(er) rate of their FTAs, their FTM/FGA & FTA/FGA would be nearly identical or at least much closer in value. The 'Horns numbers by contrast were even worse. They did not get to the line at the same rate (though they did take nearly as many FTAs -- 24 vs 25 -- as the Wildcats), and they were considerably less efficient when they did get there.

1. Dante Cunningham was indeed the man last night. His poss% (23.1) and shot% (29.5) were go-to-guy level. And even better, his scoring efficiency did not fall off with the larger portion of the possessions and shots -- 1.33 PPWS and 64.3. I wonder how effective he will be against other Big East frontcourt players...
2. Dante, Shane and Stokes provided the most efficient offense last night, posting PPWSs of 1.33, 1.00 and 1.13 respectively, above the team PPWS of 0.94.
3. Scottie, apparently recognizing it was not to be his night, compensated by dishing 5 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds (and 2 steals).
4. Texas lost nearly 1 in 5 possessions to turnovers, hardly surprising for the D1 game. But note that the 'Cats were able to steal about 1 in 6 possessions, suggesting the 'Horns lost the ball to "forced" errors. ESPN's announcing crew suggested Texas would do better with a "true point guard". Contrast those numbers with Villanova's turnover rate (27.2) and Stl% (7.2). The 'Cats may have lost the ball (a lot), but the 'Horns did not take it away. Another area for improvement for Villanova.

Ref Notes
In a game as physical as this one, Les Jones, Jamie Luckie and Mike Wood were surprisingly uninvolved. The crew allocated 23 fouls apiece to each team, though Villanova's last 2 - 3 were change of possession fouls typical of underdogs trying to squeeze out additional scoring opportunities.

Roster Notes
Villanova --
1. Dwayne Anderson played 20 minutes. He was rusty but shot 1-2 from beyond the arc (1-4 overall), 2-2 at the line and grabbed 9 rebounds. The Wildcats need his energy.

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