Monday, January 19, 2009

St. John's Post Game -- Expectations

Ken Pomeroy's offensive/defensive efficiency calculations (skewed for possessions) projected Villanova a 14 point winner. His projection does not provide a narrative (though you could imagine, using Dean Oliver's Four Factors a narrative for the game...) of how the game will acutally play out. Most of the past week saw the Nova Nation speculate whether the team would start slowly, reflecting still on the missed play at the end of the Louisville game from last Saturday. Slow to respond to the team (and task) before them. Or that they would start angry and energetic. In either case, few (I know I should be doing this in a confessional, not an internet blog...forgive me) believed they would take this game by Ken Pomeroy's projection, let alone much better...

Tim over at the Nova News Blog is first to press again, this time using an awards motif to frame his game analysis. Tim has used this approach several times and as usual his awards are clever and entertaining (and his analysis worth the read). . And comes through with a brief recap that mentions, as has virtually every recap/analysis, this win breaks the record for consecutive wins at the Pavilion, in "St. John's 57: :76 Villanova". Mike Sheridan's post game notes (over at the Official website) weaves a narrative that credits the seniors with perseverance to pull the team together and get them ready to play St. John's. And of course there is the posted AP wire story that notes Dante scored a game high 17 points, while Antonio Pena pulled down a team high 9 rebounds. And the traditional box score is also available at Villanova's website.

The breakdown by halves...

OpponentSt. John's 
 Offense Defense

Sometimes You Have to Get Their Attention...
The Cats ran out to a 7-0 lead in the first 2 minutes of the first half. After the Red Storm responded with a trey, the Cats ran off another 12 straight points to grab a 19-3 lead. The Cats outscored St. John's 25-24 through the end of the first half to take a 17 point lead (44-27) into the locker room. The Johnnies came out with a 9-0 run to start the 2nd half, which cut the Wildcat's lead to 8 (44-36). As the Johnnies brought the score to 44-32 the zebras blew Scottie for his 3rd foul (Scottie picked up #2 at 13:10 of the 1st half, and Scottie sat for the rest of the first half)...and the coach for his 3rd technical of the season. Justin Burrell did hit both FTs, but the 'Cats outscored the Storm 32-25 through the end of the game. In the game preview posted Saturday I noted Ken Pomeroy's efficiency and pace calculations projected a 66 possession game with the Wildcats taking a 14 point decision. The game (see table above) was played for 67 possessions, and Nova took a 19 point decision. I can't weave a narrative that attributes the win to senior leadership or a well-timed sideline tirade by a concerned coach. I noted in the preview that shooting efficiency (eFG%) and offensive rebounding rates (OR%) might serve as keys to a win (or loss). The red & green highlighted sections in the table (above) monitor how well Villanova performed in those categories, relative to season-long numbers. The Wildcats posted a terrific shot efficiency for both halves, quite a turnaround from the past 2-3 games -- and in a bit of a bonus they outstripped the St. John's defense numbers. The 'Cats posted strong conversion percentages for both 2s (64.1) and 3s (41.7). Given their success with 2s (overwhelming one of St. John's strong points on defense), there was apparently no need to exploit the Johnnies' weakness at defending the 3FGA. Of Villanova's FGAs, only 23% of their FGAs as 3s. They fell down on offensive rebounding (at 29.6 for the game they were far off of their season-long number, 36.6), but since they converted 58.8% of their FGAs (equating 2s & 3s to produce an impressive 63.7 eFG%) the lack of second chance opportunities was not fatal. The offensive efficiency was not seriously compromised by the Wildcat's turnover rate, a bit off their season numbers. Culprits might include Scottie (for picking up his 2nd and 3rd fouls so quickly), but also to Pena and Anderson, for some bobbling in the paint.

The Wildcats turned in a superlative defensive effort, holding St. John's with a defensive efficiency of 85.1, well below the Storm's offensive efficiency (101.0), but also better than the Wildcat's own defensive efficiency (88.7). The defensive effort was excellent for the 1st half, but sustained through the 2nd half. The Wildcats shutdown 2nd chance opportunities for the Red Storm, holding them to a much lower than D1 average (33%) of 25.0, a real problem for a St. John's team that converted FGAs at a rate of 45.5, below their own season-long percentage. Defensive rebounding was a team effort, with only the walk-ons and Cunningham(!) being shutout. Impressive rebounding efforts from Pena (6 defensive rebounds in 27 minutes of play, yielding a DR% of 31.7) and Scottie Reynolds (3 rebs in 20 minutes of play, yielding a DR% of 21.4)...

1. Dante Cunningham scored the game high 17 points. This is the 9th time Dante has led the team in scoring (2nd consecutive game). His points were both prolific and efficient. He recorded an eFG% of 70.0 & a PPWS of 1.31. He took a bit of a back seat to Pena however, in that he took only 25.3% of the available shots to Pena's 26.1%. Dante was, however, again shut down on the boards, recording a single offensive rebound (and no defensive rebounds). He did manage 2 assists, 2 turnovers and 2 blocks to go with a single steal.
2. Antonio Pena scored in double digits (13 points on 5-9, 3-4 shooting) for the 7th time this season. His eFG%, 55.6, was very good, his PPWS, at 1.19, was a turnaround from his Louisville outing. Pena may well be emerging as the Wildcat's 3rd offensive option. He grabbed 9 rebounds (3-6), proving yet again that he is the most consistent complement to Dante Cunningham. Pena's OR%/DR% for the game was 16.5/31.7, well above his season-long numbers (10.9/19.0).
3. Scottie Reynold's foul troubles largely derailed his game. He was limited to 20 minutes of play, in which he scored a very efficient 9 points (eFG% - 75.0; PPWS - 1.39), reflecting no doubt, that he again took a secondary role (3rd option) in the offense.
4. Corey Fisher put together another good offensive effort. This was especially gratifying given Reynold's foul problems. Fisher shared scoring responsibilities with Reynolds, recording 13 points produced with a 71.4 eFG%. His PPWS was 1.35, suggesting he scored points from the floor and from the line.
5. Senior Dwayne Anderson produced a quiet team 2nd best scoring with his season-high 14 points, scored efficiently (eFG% - 61.1, PPWS - 1.34). Dwayne also grabbed 4 rebounds & had 3 steals. It appears Nova has several scoring options beyond Cunningham and Reynolds.

Ref Notes
James Breeding, Joe Lindsay and Michael Kitts ran the game today. This was Kitts and Breedings first Villanova game this season (though both have ref'ed Nova games in previous seasons). While calling more fouls in the second half than the first has become pretty standard, that the visitor gets to the line more than the home team is a bit unusual. The Johnnies' FTAs, 22, was outside the standard deviation for visitor FTAs at Nova home games (the average to date is 17.2 with a standard deviation of about 4.5). Maybe the coach's technical had something to do with it. It was called at the 18:32 mark of the 2nd half, possibly in response to Scottie's 3rd foul. The Cats were up 12 at the time, but the Johnnies were 60% of the way through a 10-0 run. The "T", though it contributed 2 more to St. John's cause (Justin Burrell hit both to bring the Red Storm to 44-34), it also seemed to get the Wildcat's attention. Rather than cruise home, content to keep the Johnnies at arm's length, the Wildcats seemed to come out of the timeout with a renewed vigor and commitment to press the attack and not let St. John's back in the game. Coming into the game Joe Lindsay had officiated two previous Villanova wins (Monmouth & La Salle).

Roster Notes
1. Senior Shane Clark did not play due to a wrist injury sustained in practice last week. An MRI tomorrow should give an indication on the seriousness of the injury and the amount of time for rehabilitation.
2. The rotation dipped 10 deep into the bench, for the first time since the La Salle game in mid December. Senior Frank Tchuisi drew 4 minutes of PT, while walk-ons Jason Colenda and Russell Wooten got a minute each.


Chris @ IBBW said...


It's Chris from IBBW. We're changing addresses and leaving Blogger and heading to WordPress.

The new link is

If you could change the link on your sidebar that'd be greatly appreciated.


greyCat said...

Chris -- done. Like the new look. Let me know how you like wordpress.

Unknown said...

Hey greyCat,
I see Terrel Vinson is going to reopen recruiting now that the coach that recruited him retired.

What do ya know?

greyCat said...

Hey Stan -- I heard about that too. Billy Bayno stood down with health issues and Terrel Vinson subsequently asked for his release. I know Vinson was on Villanova's radar for over a year, but I believe the principle suitors are going to be Georgetown and Maryland, with another school (Memphis maybe?) in the picture. As for Villanova, I think the incoming class (Armwood, Cheek, Wayns and Yarou) is awfully talented, and when you throw in Taylor King, the Duke transfer who moved over during the off season, I have to think the practices are going to be very competitive and the pressure for PT (even though Anderson, Clark and Cunningham will be moving on) is going to be very high. I would hate to see a Malcolm Grant situation develop among the wing players.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info greyCat

novowels said...

greyCat---I decided to track O rebounds for both Nova and USF. If the calculation is number of offensive rebounds divided by number of missed field goals, then USF had 6 O rebs for a % of 17.1% and Villanova had 13 O rebs for a % of 46.4%.

That's a significant difference and probably why we won and they lost. Agree?

greyCat said...

While I do the calculation a little differently (defensive rebounds/(defensive rebounds + opponent's offensive rebounds)...), you are absolutely correct that the difference was significant (see the OR% under defense in the South Florida Post Game entry above). I believe the rebounding, combined with Villanova's shot defense (again see the table in the Post Game Post above) were the elements that brought home the win.