Friday, February 20, 2009

Rutgers Post Game: A Game of Halves

The Wildcats honored their seniors tonight with a 80-70 win over Rutgers. Not exactly a sterling effort, but the 'Cats led by 6 at the half and after some back-and-forth to start the 2nd half, pushed it out to 15 with <5:00 to play and, as they continued to hold the Scarlet Knights at an arm's length, brought in the bench to close out the game. The Official website posted an AP wire story, a post game edition of the Nova Notebook and the official box score. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

The Defense of aught 6...
As in the past few recap/analysis I have highlighted (red and green) the stats that are consistent with/better than season numbers (green) and those that are not (red), using the preview as the guide. The 1st half went according to script -- with a wrinkle or two. Note the Wildcat's defensive rating (Rating under Defense) -- 85.5 is a very good number, but Rutgers pretty much hit the shots they attempted. Their eFG% (53.8) was well ahead of their season-long conversion rate. How can Rutgers have such a good eFG% combined with a terrible Rating (and hit the locker room at the half down 6)? Villanova's Paradoxical Defense of 2006. That season Wildcat squad had a near elite defensive status, but had a terrible (well, very average anyway...) shot defense, that lurched towards terrible in several games. The key was turnovers -- a familiar theme to readers who have followed guest contributor Ray Floriani's posts on the subject. Rutgers had a very large number of them, 20 total, 11 in the 1st half alone. The Wildcats reverted to more recent form in the second half, reducing turnovers significantly over their first half rate. They started to hit their shots with greater regularity, and if their offensive rebounding settled a bit, it did not dip below the D1 average (33.3). On the defensive side, the 'Cats maintained pressure on the ball and continued to dominate the defensive boards. While tempting to minimize the importance of Villanova's defensive board domination in light of Rutger's very strong shooting, consider that turnover restricted the number of FGAs the Knights were able to take, then Villanova squeezed them on the other end by denying 2nd chance opportunities on those misses. Together it was a crippling combination. Also passed over was the subtle decline in possessions half-over-half. Those three extra possessions, especially in light of the efficiency Rutgers was converting those possessions into points, could well have reduced the winning margin to a single possesion.

1. The Nova Nation got it's 1st look at freshman guard Mike Rosario, who scored Rutger's team high 19 points on 7-11 (3-7, 4-4) & 2-2 shooting. Rosario was efficient (eFG% - 77.3; PPWS - 1.59) and prolific.
2. The Coreys teamed up again to score 31 points in 41 minutes of play. They shot a combined 10-14 (7-10, 3-4) & 4-4 shooting. Those two produced shooting efficiencies of 100 (Fish) and 94.4 (Stokes). The two have become a lethal combination off the bench as they change very dramatically, the dynamic of the game.
3. Dante Cunningham took the offensive spotlight with 36.0% of the shots (when he was in). Unfortunately he did not convert those shots to points in a particularly efficient manner (PPWS was an uncharacteristically low 0.65). Scottie Reynolds had a very good night however, something he tends to do when he is not operating in the spotlight. Scottie scored a team high 21 points on 5-11 (1-4, 4-7) and 10-11 shooting. As the FTAs suggest, Scottie drove the lane a bit and made contact, evenly distributed between the halves.

Ref Notes
Tim Clougherty, J.D. Collins and Tim Higgins (the zebra crew) called a very average game -- for a Villanova home game. Unlike Villanova, Rutgers does not expect to get to the line often, and the referees did not disappoint. 14 FTAs (the Scarlet Knight's total) was a little less than the average for the visiting team, but still within the standard deviation, and consistent with Rutger's disinclination to be aggressive (into the paint...) on offense. The Wildcats hit their FTA average almost on the nose, though they were whistled for a little less than their average for home games. That may well have been due to the margin of victory. Rutgers, held at an arm's length after briefly taking a 2 point lead at the 10:00 mark of the 2nd half, did not commit any change of possession fouls at the end of the game.

Roster Notes
The staff started the squad's four seniors and emptied the bench in the last minute or so of the game. The rotation had eleven Wildcats total running through the game, though the staff did limit the double digit contributors to seven, consistent with the last 2 or so games. Sophomore Antonio Pena checked in for nine minutes, nearly bringing that total to eight. Senior Dwayne Anderson, started this game and played 31 minutes. That left knee has to be feeling good.

Recaps/Analysis Around the Nova Blogosphere
Pete over at Let's Go Nova has learned the secret of blogging. He posted a one sentence blurb with the tantalizing heading of "Villanova Survives Rutgers Scare" and let his readers fill in the "storyline". Nice work Pete (& all this time I've been burning the candle at both ends to generate content...).
The team reverted to form and posted a concise recap, "Rutgers 72: :82 Villanova", that listed the essentials of the game.
Chris over at IBBW posted a good (and fast) recap with a bit of praise for some of the younger players.
Tim over at Nova News posted his recap with a bit of praise (as part of his commentary) for each of the seniors (and the two Coreys who contributed quite a bit to the winning effort).
The anonymous blogger over at NBE's Villanova Page posted a wordier, commercial-embedded recap/analysis with a link to New Jersey's Star Ledger's article.


Pete @ said...

ha ha ha.

Weekends are not good for me and lengthy posts! I usually get around to posting the player grades eventually.

Keep up the good work over here.

greyCat said...

I knew you would Pete. On the player ratings -- Coach's approach to Clark in prior years was to go early and often with him. Shane became less effective as the season wore on. This year he used Clark sparingly during the OOC and gave him more time as the Big East season progressed. The change has worked better for the team (and Clark). I think the staff considers Anderson and Clark interchangable at the #3/#4. They are there for rebounds (Nova needs them badly if Cunningham is going to put up more shots) and defense. They are supposed to score efficiently, though not necessarily prolifically (a bonus if it happens). Cunningham's 17 shots were too much because he missed a lot of them. A combination of the significant night (Senior Night) and the opponent (Echenique & N'diaye) perhaps.

Your posts draw a good many comments and reactions, Pete. Keep posting.