Saturday, February 7, 2009

Syracuse Post Game -- Consistency

For the second consecutive game the Wildcats went off script on their possessions. And for the second time they won, only this time the Nova Nation did not have to hold it's collective breath as the clock wound down. The official website has the AP wire story & the official box score. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Half Time Adjustments...
The first half was eerily similar to last Wednesday's Providence game -- efficient offense and tight defense. The Wildcat's offensive efficiency, at 123.9, was well above their adjusted efficiency (111.7), even as their defensive efficiency, 88.9, was just above their season adjusted efficiency (87.8). The first half was disjointed, a bit chaotic, largely because of the whistles. Nearly 1 in 3 possessions was interrupted with a change of possession due to a called foul. Possibly the undermanned crew felt a need to maintain tighter control over play. Rick Jackson and Andy Rautins between them, took half of Syracuse's FGAs, and a third more than Flynn and Harris combined. That was a bad sign for the Orange. For Villanova meanwhile, FGAs were nearly evenly divided between Anderson, Cunningham (of course) and the Coreys, Fisher & Stokes. A good sign for the 'Cats, and one reason they went to the half up by 15. I have shaded in green the elements that were at or ahead of the season numbers, and in red those that fell short.

While the Orange were able to cut the Wildcat's lead to to 10 or 11 six times during the second half, they were never able to get it into single digits. Every time they made a push, the 'Cats answered with a push back. Five times the 'Cats bumped the lead to 19-21, but the Orange would not fold. The preview posted late last week noted that shooting efficiency (eFG%), pace, getting to the line and offensive rebounding rates (OR%) might serve as keys to a win (or loss). The results were admittedly mixed, but suggest the 'Cats have work to do on the defensive side of the ball, especially when they pile up big leads before the half.

1. Dante Cunningham matched his season & career high for points scored (31), and came within a rebound of logging another double-double. On a day when Onuaku was limping and Jackson was throttled with fouls, Dante stepped up as the first option on offense. He hit 12 of 15 and added another 7 at the free throw line. Cunningham's FTRate was 80.0, suggesting he got to the line 4 times for every 5 FGAs. No doubt taking some credit for sitting Jackson and sub forward Kristof Ongenaet down.
2. Shane Clark recorded his first double-double of the season as he scored a season high 14 points to go with his 10 (7-3-10) rebounds. Clark's board contribution included those 7 offensive rebounds, an unusual achievement. Clark added 3 assists and 2 blocked shots to the cause.
3. Corey Fisher scored 14 points in 23 minutes of play. He continues his run of tremendous efforts with 5-9 shooting, producing an eFG% of 55.6 & a PPWS of 1.23. Heady play has become the hallmark of his his recent surge. At the 2:55 mark of the 1st half with Villanova leading 43-29, Fisher avoided a mid-court corner trap, crossed the line and passed to Corey Stokes at Nova's 3 point line. As Fisher ran left, Cunningham moved out to the key to set a pick for Stokes, who instead took the ball to his right and headed to the lane and the cup (who said the guy had no handle?). Stokes' missed shot, was rebounded by Onuaku who (having the good sense to stay between Cunningham and the basket) tossed the pass to Flynn on the left side. In stepped Fisher to take that pass and drop the layup through for 2 points & push the lead back out to 16. About 17 seconds later Harris penetrated the Orange lane and kicked the ball back out to Ongenaet waiting at the top of the key to take the three. Again Fisher stepped in to tip the pass, and the spread out on the floor to try and take the now loose ball. He could not gain possession, but did tip it again over to another 'Cat, also laid out on the floor scrambling for the ball. The 'Cats are up by 16 mind you. Villanova basketball. Oh, and he grabbed 4 rebounds and dished 6 assists.
4. Cunningham, Reynolds and Fisher served as the first 3 options on offense, with Shane Clark and Corey Stokes taking an even percentage of the shots (20%). Anderson and Redding stepped back this game, though between them they were 6-11 from the field. The interchangability on offense, with each of those six taking alternate "first wave" roles over the past 4 games has to be encouraging to the staff; and a nightmare for game opponent's game preparation.
5. The minutes were distributed in a surprisingly even fashion, with Stokes and Clark drawing 27 minutes apiece, Redding, Reynolds and Anderson drawing 26 minutes apiece. Fisher logged 23 minutes, and Dante Cunningham took 37 (Pena received a 9 minute run). Though the camera did not pan the bench often, when it did it appeared that all members of the squad were focused on the game. I did not notice any sulking.

Ref Notes
The crew, Jim Haney, Curtis Shaw and Mike Stephens, was a bit undermanned for much of the game as Jim Haney came up gimpy 5 minutes into the 1st half. As it was they had their hands full, whistling the Wildcats for an astonishing 29 fouls, 15 in the first half alone. Were Shaw and Stephens compensating for the absence of Jim Haney? It is hard to know, except that this was by far the most fouls awarded to the Orange this season. If the Providence game had 50 called fouls, this one went 3 better, setting a new season high (one "standard" I hope the 'Cats don't try to exceed). The zebras were not kind to the Wildcats at all, giving the Orange 42 FTAs, by far the most for an opponent all season (and remember the 'Cats have already played Connecticut), and more than Nova has gotten. Indeed the FTAs were well outside the standard deviation for FTAs to an opponents at a home game. No one can suggest the Wildcats had home cooking today. The only other notable was the technical called on Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn, who was no doubt frustrated by the turn of events.

Other recaps/analysis
Nova News has posted a recap piece. (Good work Tim). posted a recap.
Mike Sheridan's post game notes.
Axeman's recap/commentary -- a Syracuse-centric look at the game. A number of good things to say about Villanova.


Anonymous said...

Tremendous work, as always.

You have to love Clark on the offensive boards. It adds a much needed wrinkle to the offense, and makes our front court that much more potent.

greyCat said...

He was a monster yesterday. I counted 3 (or was it 4?) putbacks in the second half. Shane's career at Villanova has not played out quite the way many thought when he first came to the Mainline, but it's encouraging to see him have a run of good games this late in the season. Bodes well for the next month.