Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Georgetown Post Game: Laissez les bons temps rouler

The 6th Man
Since I was doing a live blog for Rush the Court, I arrived early and settled in to the press section (going back eight rows, we split the space under one of the baskets with the Villanova Student Section). The student section began to fill 30 minutes before the tip off. They roundly booed as the Hoyas came out for warmups, but the arena, at 20 minutes til tip off, was barely 40% full. The nose bleed section -- the balcony above the club boxes -- showed very few open seats with 10 minutes before the ceremonies, but the lower bowl had many more open seats than faces. The Hoya fans arrived to take their places (appropriately, the poorest seats in the lower bowl) in the corner behind press row.

The first surprise was how quickly the lower bowl stands filled. 7,000 fans arrived and took their seats in something less than six minutes. The second surprise was the Villanova Men's Chorus. Their a cappella rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" was flawless, and the crowd (surprise #3) voiced their approval loudly. Very, very loudly. A hint of things to come? Absolutely, and then some. The crowd stood for large portions of the second half, chanted in one voice frequently and supported the Wildcats, loudly, throughout the entire game. I heard chants from the Georgetown contingent several times, particularly during their second half rally, but they were drown out quickly by the very partisan, very hometown, crowd.

The Official website has an AP wire story, some post game notes and the box score. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

A quick calculation at half-time and I realized the pace was closer to Villanova's comfort zone at 36.0 -- that translates to 72 possessions for the game -- than Georgetown's. This might have been the best half of basketball the 'Cats have played this season, or as Coach Wright suggested in the post game presser, the 2nd half at Louisville and the 1st half versus Georgetown is probably the best "game" Villanova played this season. I suspected the Hoyas would slow it down a bit and run their screen and back-cut offense. Their 2nd half strategy was counter-intuitive -- they bumped the pace up and scored far more efficiently (119.3 -- see table above), taking back the 15 points they gave in the 1st half and tying the game at 4:37 mark on a Greg Monroe put-back of his own miss. The Hoyas would tie again at the 4:01 (Monroe again, this time on a driving lay-up). Over the last 4 minutes Monroe would take only one more field goal attempt, a 2 pointer on a driving lay-up, as four other Hoyas went 1-5 from the field (and 3-3 from the line).

"We Can Play Fast; We Can Play Slow...it's the Quality of the Shot That Matters"
I suspected the Hoyas would slow it down and run their offense. Boy was I wrong, the Hoyas came out blazing, despite three fouls on Chris Wright the Hoyas threw caution to the wind and combined defensive board domination (they out rebounded the 'Cats by an uncomfortable margin) with outlet passes and lane penetration to switch to a transition offense. Greg Monroe was everywhere. If he wasn't grabbing a rebound (he had 10 in the 2nd half, eight on defense) and throwing an outlet pass to a streaking Austin Freeman or Wright (or Jason Clark), he was at the other end, taking a pass and going strong to the hoop (Monroe went 6-9 from the floor & 4-6 from the line).

Notes & Observations
1. The offense (Min%/Poss%/Shot%) went through Reynolds (72.5/31.9/32.8), Wayns (when he was in -- 35.0/41.0/40.8) and Redding (72.5/31.5/28.5). Fisher (70.0/25.4/15.9) went to the lane several times, but worked more later to set up Redding and Reynolds. The offense came through the back court, as the staff dipped deep into the bench to find an answer for Monroe and Vaughn.
2. The starters logged 65.0% of the minutes, a bit low for a close game. Two most obvious reasons -- fouls (Stokes picked up #2 quickly in the first half and sat for over 10 minutes before starting the second half; Pena fouled out; Reynolds and Redding had four apiece) and Greg Monroe. Though Stokes and Pena started, King (who fouled quickly), Armwood and Yarou logged minutes early and often as the fouls mounted. By the final buzzer Pena had to take a seat and the quintet loggedd 16 fouls combined.
3. Maalik Wayns has been accumulating minutes lately. With the advent of the Big East season, Wayns has seen his minutes grow from 15.8 mpg to 19.0 mpg. His scoring average has nearly doubled, from 6.5 to 12.4 over the last five games. Having been recognized by the conference twice already as Rookie of the Week, Wayns is putting together some numbers for the All-Rookie Team, and perhaps ROY consideration. No small feat given the depth (and seniority) of the Villanova back court.
4. The starters took 63% of the playing time, unusually low given the closeness of the game. 10 players logged >10 minutes apiece, and the staff used 11 players total during the course of the game. The staff has not played a rotation this deep this long ever. The chemistry looks very good.

Ref Notes
The crew of James Breeding, Bryan Kersey and Mike Kitts whistled the teams for a combined 52 fouls. This was the second Villanova game for each, though none has been teamed with any of the others for a Villanova game this season. The 'Cats are 2-0 with each referee. The game was within the standard deviation for Oddly, 52 fouls was pretty much in line with expectations for Kersey, but high for the others. Does Kersey have a "happy whistle"?

Impressions from the Post Game Press Conferences
Jon Tannenwald recorded the two press conferences and has the audio available over at his Soft Pretzel Logic Blog (thanks Jon).

James Bryson Sighting
As I wandered the bowls of the Wach looking for access (back) to the arena to reconnect with the wireless service and shut down my live blog, I spotted two men across from Coach Wright, who was informally answering a few more questions from reporters, waiting patiently for a moment with the Coach. While the shorter of the two was just an inch or two taller than I, the other, at 6-7 (at least) had to be a bballer. We exchanged greetings and a handshake. The name brought back memories of the early 1990s teams, some of Coach Mass' last teams and Coach Lappas' first. Frustrating at times, but those guys showed flashes too. Bryson started for the 1992 and 1993. After noting we both graduated in years ending in "3", I thanked him for some good memories and went off to find the arena floor again. He looked healthy and in good humor. And why not, the 'Cats beat Georgetown?

Press Clippings
The seating chart for the contained a number of familiar names, many of course are local ink or electronic (Tim Welch, former Providence Head Coach who announced the game for ESPN) or net-based media (Jon Tannenwald of Soft Pretzel Logic). In addition to the visiting press (Liz Clarke from the Washington Post), there were a few names known to audiences larger than the Delaware Valley (yes there was a DelCo Times reporter there) national name or two as well, New York (and Philadelphia) Daily News sports columnist Hoops Weiss, ESPN writer Dana O'Neil and Luke Winn to name three. The game drew more than a little ink...

1. Luke Winn drew much of the material for his 5 Lessons... article from the post game pressers. Though Coach Thompson felt he could get good games out of his bench, the collective 1-12 (1-8, 0-4) and 1-2 performance from the field spoke volumns. Coach Thompson acknowledged the bench has to get stronger.
2. Dana O'Neil's My Guy versus Your Guy game-day blog entry was vintage work. Well thought-out and well written.
3. Liz Clarke provides a Hoya perspective to the game in her recap, "Georgetown rally falls short this time...". Her piece also touched the Hoyas' very short bench.
4. Soft Pretzel Logic's Jon Tannenwald wonders Does Georgetown-Villanova matter anymore?. He raised the question to each coach individually in their separate press conferences. Both coaches couched their answers in the context of the Big East conference and where they felt their team was at this point in time. Hardly a rousing endorsement for the rivalry perhaps, but Greg Monroe's demeanor during the press conference suggested this loss stung. A lot.
5. The Hoya Prospectus has an HD version of the boxscore.

1 comment:

Zach Smart said...

Great work

NOVA-Commit Jayvaughn Pinkston erupted for 34 and 16 at big apple classic and is looking every bit the king of new york