Sunday, January 25, 2009

South Florida Post Game -- Win the Ones You Are Supposed to Win

In the second leg of a two game "road trip" found the Wildcats in the sunshine of Southern Florida where Villanova faced off against the Bulls of South Florida. The situation required a bounceback performance from several team members, and they did not disappoint as the 'Cats took a. Tim over at the Nova News Blog provides an entertaining recap by resurrecting a movie theme from last season in his post "Nova Survives Rumble in South Florida". The guys over at I Bleed Blue and White have posted a couple of entries. The post game recap/analysis, "Postgame: Villanova 70 USF 61" echoes an attitude I read (waaaay too much of) over on the Villanova message boards, and even picked up a bit in Tim's post over at Nova News -- that the game was somehow a (albeit tiny perhaps) failure because the Wildcats did not run the Bulls out of the Sun Dome. IrishChris followed with a post about Antonio Pena, "Opinion: Pena is Coming Around" gives a nod to Pena's largely unrecognized progress with the start of the Big East season. comes through with the usual good, but brief recap. If the Nova Blogosphere is a bit down right now, the AP wire story (over at the Official website) noted the offensive struggles, but concluded with quotes from Dwayne Anderson and Coach Wright that contended the game was just a typical Big East game. I did not find the traditional box score over at Villanova's website yet, so I linked to South Florida's site (home team usually posts the box score first). CO_HOYA has not posted the HD box yet, but I expect he will have it available in the next day or two.

The breakdown by halves...

OpponentSouth Florida 
 Offense Defense

Take the Press Reports...
...that suggest this was a defensive struggle with a grain of salt. Defensively, the Wildcats modestly exceeded their "rating expectations" (89.1 vs 89.3). Their offensive rating was slightly off their season-long rating (102.2 vs 110.7). Media (and fan) lamentations therefore are only half true for Villanova. The teams played to a 32-32 tie in the 1st half, as the Ratings (Offense/Defense above) indicate. It is common by the way to find opponents derive the same rating through different means. Note that Villanova converted efficiently (eFG%), but had an atrocious turnover rate (TORate). The 'Cats did a credible (but the usual beaten-path-to-the-free-throw-line number) translating FGAs into free throw attempts (FTA/FGA), but were not especially adept at converting once they got there (the FTM% for the 1st half was 55.7%). South Florida by contrast were a bit more efficient at converting field goal attempts and took care of the ball just a bit better than the Wildcats. Note however, their offensive rebounding rate (OR%). At 14.3, it points to the importance (for the Bulls, given their difficulty at converting field goals) of 2nd chance points. Their OR% suggests they retrieved less than 1 in 6 of their misses. Given that their overall FGM% for that 1st half was 45.5%, it means that of the 22 FGAs they took in that 1st half only 2 were 2nd chance points.

Halftime adjustments brought both a lockdown on the Bull's offense, and an offensive surge by the Wildcats. Note that the Nova's shooting efficiency declined slightly, even as the team's offensive rating rose to a level only a bit off their season-long rating of 110.7. The reasons? A modest improvement in turnovers, but more significantly, a dramatic increase in free throw opportunities. Their 2nd half FTA/FGA rate (108.7) indicate the 'Cats had more free throws than field goal attempts. Their conversion frequency at the line improved as well. As for the Bulls, the dramatic decline in their shooting efficiency and more modest decline in their FTA/FGA rate overwhelmed their improvement in limiting turnover and grabbing offenive rebounds.

1. On a day when Scottie Reynolds stepped over to become a pass-first point guard (he had 7 assists to go with his modest -- and season low?) 7 points, Dante Cunningham stepped up in a huge way. Though his PT was limited (severely) from his nemsis fouling, Dante took 50% of the shots when he was on the court. The offensive plan was to push the ball into the paint and convert, as Antonio Pena too had a large role in the offense. Pena, who played 57.5% of the minutes (about 23 minutes) had a regular/star-level day on offense, taking 24.3% of the shots when he was on the court. With the two forwards playing in tandem, they took, between them, nearly 3 of every 4 shots produced on offense. The four guard offense, perimeter-oriented offense is gone. This group of players is capable of going either inside or outside, based on what the opponent is willing to give.
2. Corey Fisher and Reggie Redding proved to be an efficient scoring duo in the back court. They played the 2nd/3rd option role in the offense, producing points from the field and at the line. Fisher's eFG% & PPWS were 50.0 & 1.13 respectively. Redding's numbers were 55.6 and 1.01. His PPWS was lower than Fisher's because Reggie went 1-4 from the line.
3. Dwayne Anderson i back. He scored 7 points to go with his 11 rebounds (4-7-11). Anderson logged the most minutes of any starter (92.5% of the available minutes) today. He, like Scottie, stepped into the background on offense, but nevertheless converted his modest number of opportunites very efficiently (eFG%/PPWS were 50.0/1.09).
4. On a day when the Bulls effectively limited Cunningham's and Pena's access to the offensive boards, Shane Clark, Anderson and Corey Stokes had monster days. The Bulls stopped Pena and Stokes on the defensive boards, but could not contain Cunningham, Anderson and Clark. The rebounding was very lopsided in favor of the Wildcats. Against the Bulls the 'Cats performed ahead of their own season numbers (off/opp off) of 36.3/29.6 (compare to above).

Ref Notes
The crew was manned by Ed Corbett, Brian O'Connell and Mike Stuart, three Big East veteran refs who have each run at least one Nova game going into this one. Like the Husky game, this one also featured a good deal of fouling and free throw attempts. But this time the Wildcats were the beneficiaries of the whistles. Nova's 34 FTAs were the 3rd highest number they have taken this season and the most they have gotten in a road game. Villanova's record is 4-1 when the individuals from this crew are refereeing their games.

Roster Notes
Senior Shane Clark played, but had what appeared to be a flexible cast protecting his wrist. South Florida senior (transfer) forward Mobolaji Ajayi tore an ACL in practice last week and did not dress. He will miss the balance of the season. South Florida has now lost two players to ACL tears (sophomore transfer guard Mike Mercer & Ajayi).


Unknown said...

Hey greyCat,
check this out.

I say get Terrel if we have the chance and room. Or, unless we can get a real good big man.

I don't think there will be a Malcolm Grant situation. And quite frankly while Malcolm could certainly nail 3's, he had trouble with lateral movement (keeping people in front of him)

Your wings would be Stokes, Cheek, King,
I say Sutton, Mouph, Pena and Armwood play double posts.

What a line up! And what a bench!

What do you think?

Unknown said...

Hey greyCat, I thought about recruiting Terrel more.

Man what options, we could play bigger, or smaller. Play quicker or slower. We could really turn up the heat on D. Force more turnovers. Wear people out.

What's not to like?

greyCat said...

Stan -- don't follow recruiting as much as others, but I think Nova & Vinson cooled off a bit last July/August. The staff seemed to be on Cheek a little harder back then (he verballed a few weeks ago), so I'm not sure how many schollies are still available for next year (and how the staff wants to distribute them through the four classes). As you point out, there would be a lot of 'tweeners who would compete for time at the #2/#3 and #3/#4. It would be a challenge to sort the combinations out into cohesively functioning units.

But you are correct, the latest I have heard is that Villanova (per Scouts) is one of his last three. Maybe I will hear more before the end of the weekend (no promises...).

greyCat said...

Hey Stan -- word I'm getting is that Vinson is officially released, but looking at 3 other Big East schools. Nova, GTown and Maryland are off his list.