Sunday, February 28, 2010

Looking Back at February Expectations

The Snow Wasn't the Worst Part...
I posted an entry at the beginning of the month that took a look at Februaries of season's past and ran a few numbers for Villanova's record in February under Coach Wright. In the aftermath of last night's loss (a surprise to me irrespective of the numbers and projections...) I thought I would take another look at that February 1 Post.

At that point Villanova had a single loss and was keeping pace with Syracuse for the conference lead. The Orange were up a win, but the important loss column was even. I noted that Pomeroy was predicting a 5-3 record (and secretly thought he was underselling the Wildcats), while also noting the team had averaged closer to a 0.700 winning pace in the prior four seasons. That would have produced a record of 6-2. 0.500 would have been more accurate, as Villanova went 4-4 through the month, taking losses from Georgetown, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The last three coming in the past two weeks. Ouch. Let's hope March is a better month. A bit less snow and few more wins. Ok, a lot more wins.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: St. Bonaventure at Fordham

by Ray Floriani

BRONX, NY- In a game that saw 13 ties and a dozen lead changes, St.Bonaventure edged Fordham 73-68 at Rose Hill.

In a 71possession (St. Bona 73 Fordham 69) game, the Efficiency and Factors:


St. Bona10048273316

Bonaventure has cut down on the turnover nemesis which has been a problem the past few seasons. Bonnies are under 20% in A-10 play in turnover rate and took care of the ball well.

Rebounding and defense, per coach Mark Schmidt, were the keys to the Bona victory. In raw numbers Bonaventure enjoyed a 41-35 edge on the glass and Fordham shot 37% for the contest.

Bonnies had a 44-26 edge on scoring in the paint and a 17-6 margin in second chance points.

Significant. Andrew Nicholson, the Bonnies sophomore center and inside threat, scored five points and fouled out after logging 22 minutes. Nicholson was not feeling well but gave it a go. As Schmidt also noted it’s significant to get a road win when a player of Nicholson’s stature is not a big factor.

Jon Hall led all scorers with a 24 point night. The Bonaventure guard also added 8 boards.

Chris Gaston of Fordham posted 18 points and 13 rebounds. Gaston did commit 5 turnovers which can be somewhat excused to having defenders double down on him on the blocks and the fact he had to log the full 40 minutes.

Brenton Butler led Fordham with 20 points but was 5 of 15 ( 2 of 7 from three) from the floor.

Lance Brown was out for Fordham but Herb Tanner filled in at guard scoring nine points. His trey at the first half Buzzer gave the Rams a 35-34 lead.

Bonnies limited Fordham to 14 of 36 shooting (39%) from two point range. On the offensive end Bonaventure shot 52% from two point range (27 of 52) and wisely attempted only seven treys while hitting one. Bonnies struggled at the line going 16 of 30.

Always impressed with the hustle of freshman forward Fahro Alihodzic of Fordham. There are nights, as tonight, though he is not a big factor. Alihodzic scored 4 points with 3 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Living with prosperity. Something Bonaventure had had trouble with especially away from home, having dropped heartbreakers at Duquesne and St.Louis earlier. Bonaventure led by seven with 90 seconds to play and proceeded to shoot 2 of 7 from the line. On the other end the Rams could get no closer than a four point deficit.

Elerby. The ‘Bonaventure Bandwagon’ - the fan’s chat room has been extremely critical of junior guard Malcolm Elerby. Granted he hasn’t had a consistently solid year but at Rose Hill his play was good. He scored 10 points (4 of 8 from the line was not great), added 5 assists and made some nice defensive plays. Watching him, I saw a lot of good things as noted. All of a sudden he passes on the wing and sends the ball almost onto Arthur Avenue. You can hear the Bandwagon group let out a collective groan. Elerby must have a friend on the stat crew as he was listed for zero turnovers.

Records. Bonnies are 12-14 (5-8 in A-10). Fordham is 2-24 (0-14).

“I didn’t expect us to pull away . Fordham plays very hard and will never quit. I thought (Jon) Hall was they key for us tonight.“ - St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt

“We got hammered at URI but responded with two great practices. Tonight we didn’t get the loose balls, block out at times and make the plays we needed in the stretch.“ - Fordham interim coach Jared Grasso
St. Bonaventure Coach Mark Schmidt

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reynolds Named to Last 30 in Naismith Watch

Down to 30
The Atlanta Tipoff Club released their revised "Watch List" of 30 players earlier this week. The late season watch list was trimmed from 50 D1 players named in their preseason watch list down to 30 players. Scottie made the cut, and is in the running along with familiar names like Cole Aldrich from Kansas, Devan Downey from South Carolina and Robbie Hummel from Purdue.

A total of seven Big East players were named to the late season watch list. They include

Da'Sean Butler from West Virginia,
Jerome Dyson, Connecticut,
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame,
Wesley Johnson, Syracuse,
Dominique Jones, South Florida,
Greg Monroe, Georgetown,

and Scottie.

The Naismith has been awarded annually since 1969, and recipients include Michael Jordan (1984), "Pistol" Pete Maravitch (1970), Larry Bird (1979) and Tim Duncan (1997).

Congratulations Scottie

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Rutgers at Seton Hall

by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, NJ - It got a little unnerving for Pirate fans but Seton Hall held off Rutgers 76-70 at the Prudential Center on Tuesday.

In a 72 possession (Rutgers 74 Seton Hall 69) game, the Efficiency and Factors:

Seton Hall110498319

It’s not rocket science and the result largely came down to this. If you surrender the basketball without a shot your efficiency and chances to win will suffer. In the first half Rutgers fell behind by 18 and trailed 44-29 at the break. Examine the numbers at halftime.


The second half showed a vast improvement. Less turnovers plus more defensive stops was a very simple equation allowing the Scarlet Knights to make it a one possession game in the stretch.


Seton Hall never lost the lead. A very important point from a momentum standpoint especially when your opposition is making a serious run in your building. On two occasions the final minute, the Hall missed a one on one but Rutgers came up empty, missing several inside shots, on the opposite end.

Notes: Both Rutgers and Seton Hall had four players in double figures. Jeremy Hazell, playing with stitches in his hand, led all scorers with 25 points. Hazell had a few big treys in the stretch run to keep Rutgers at bay. Eugene Harvey, injured wrist and all, scored ten points handed out four assists and had a crucial steal in the stretch.

Mike Rosario paced Rutgers with 17 points. Rosario (7 of 20 from the floor including 2 of 10 from three) was defended and hounded by Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence. Dane Miller continued to impress he had six turnovers the first half, none the second and ended up with 16 points, 9 boards and 5 blocks. Hamady Ndiaye , another player continuing to get better each night, added 12 points 14 rebounds. For Rutgers: the good news - Miller is a freshman. The bad news - Ndiaye is a senior.

Rutgers an noted cut down on turnovers the second half but the damage was done. For the game Seton Hall led 23-9 in scoring off turnovers. Hall scored 16 of those points the first half.

Herb Pope committed a hard intentional foul on Miller as he went in on a dunk with a second left. No big deal, chalk it up to the rivalry, per the coaches and players. Bobby Gonzalez and Pope did comment on not allowing an opponent to dunk on the hall at the end of a game. Rutgers had a 49-37 rebounding edge including 20-13 on the offensive glass which is reflected graphically in OREB percentage totals. Rutgers shot 5 of 22 (23%) from three. Hall was 8 of 23 (34%) with Hazell 5 of 14.

Impressive comeback by Rutgers. A week earlier Scarlet Knights came from 17 down the second half to win at DePaul. On this evening they did not get the W but threw a scare into the Hall.

These two teams have a rematch at the RAC next Thursday. Rutgers is 14-14 (4-11) while Seton Hall, clinging to NCAA tournament hopes, is 16-10 (7-8).

Attendance was 9,503. Former Pirates Grant Billmeier and Terry Dehere, a 90s standout, were in attendance.

"I'm proud of our guys. Our guys had to deal with a lot of adversity To start off 0-8 (Big East) and continue to work hard is really special." - Rutgers coach Fred Hill

"When we play Rutgers or St.John's the main thing is winning. I don't care if it's by half a point" - Seton Hall Coach Bobby Gonzalez

Scoreboard at the Rock

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Navy at Army

by Ray Floriani

WEST POINT, NY- Sparked by an early 15-0 and a charged atmosphere in ‘comfy’ Christl Arena, Army posted a resounding 69-50 victory over Navy on Saturday. The efficiency and four factors in a 71 possession (Navy 69 Army 72) game:


The defense, specifically Army's defense, stands out in this game. Not just the efficiency mark reflects the magnitude of the Cadet defensive effort. The effective field goal percentage and turnover rate are other categories that jump off the charts. Navy’s leading scorer senior guard Chris Harris (21.5 PPG) scored 30 in the narrow win over the Cadets in Annapolis a few weeks back. On this afternoon Harris was not a factor scoring 4 points on 2 of 17 shooting (0 for 7 from the floor from three). As a team Navy shot a horrendous (no other adjective fits) 1 of 19 beyond the arc. That’s 5%. And that is for a Navy team that entered the game relying on three pointers for 35% of their scoring in Patriot League contests.

Army had a strong showing from the field largely on 58% shooting (23 of 40) on two pointers. Chris Walker, a 6-9 senior, was extremely effective in the paint with 14 points on 7 of 9 shooting. The Cadet TO rate, a little high but their offensive efficiency and defensive effort atoned for their turnover ‘sins’.

Navy had two double figure scorers guards O.J. Avworo and Jordan Sugars. Army also had two, Walker and game leader Cleveland Richard with 15 points.

Navy is 13-14 (7-5 in the Patriot) Army is 14-12 (4-8).

In the first game Navy edged the Army women 54-48. The game was a more deliberate 61 possession meeting:


The Army women had an outstanding turnover rate but that was the only positive on the offensive end. They shot 15 of 40 (38%) from two point range and 5 of 20 beyond the arc. Junior forward Erin Anthony was excellent with a game leading 22 points on 10 of 20 from the field. Consistent help though was not available.

Navy led 30-18 at the half before Army got back and made it a one possession game in the stretch. Midshipmen also struggled from the floor shooting 13 of 33 (39%) from two and 6 of 19 (32%) from three. They did get to the line more than the Cadets, and converted, going 10 of 13. Junior point guard Angela Myers was the difference maker leading Navy with 16 points while adding 10 rebounds and four assists. In the stretch, Myers made a succession of big plays.

Navy is 15-12 (7-5 in Patriot) while Army fell to 10-16 (4-8).

“The Army defense has been a trademark and it’s tough again. They guard the ball physically and rotate very well.” - Navy coach Billy Lange

“Navy has a lot of firepower but we were able to get a lot of contributions today from the whole team on defense . Not just one guy.” - Army coach Zach Spiker

Players & spectators stand as
each school's alma mater is played

Comment from greyCat -- Billy Lange should be a familiar name to Villanovans. Billy was an assistant coach at Villanova under Jay Wright from 2001 to 2004, before he left to head the Navy men's program. Army Coach Zach Spiker was an assistant coach under Steve Donahue back in September when he was hired to coach the Cadets literally weeks before Fall Practice commenced. Given the circumstances of his hire, Army alums and fans have to be very encouraged by the team's standings.

Pittsburgh Post Game: In the Name of Peter(son)

The Peterson Event Center
Taking to the road after their home loss to Connecticut Monday night, the Wildcats looked for a bounce back game in the Peterson Event Center on the Pittsburgh campus on Sunday afternoon. Wrong place, wrong day. Opened in November 2002, the Peterson Center has become as inhospitable a road venue as the Fitzgeral Field House forboding as the Fitzgerald Fieldhouse it replaced in 2002. The 'Cats finished their Fitzgerald stint with an 0-4 run. So far (counting yesterday), they have an 0-3 record. The next time they win at Peterson will be the first time they win at Peterson.

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

 Offense Defense

Half-time Adjustments
The pace of the first half (about 30 possessions per team), is the lowest possession half this season. As for the game, 62.9 (call it 63...) possessions is the lowest since the Temple game (62.2 -- 62 possessions) in December. For the second consecutive game Villanova overcame a poor first half offensive effort. But consistent with the Connecticut game, they also negated that progress with a poor second half defensive showing. Some have suggested this was the best half of defense this season, and looking over the defensive stats (Defensive eFG% -- 34.5, TORate -- 26.9, FTA/FGA -- 31.0), it seems only the offensive rebounding, a very disappointing 55.6 undermined a terrific defensive effort. Offensive rebounding (orange highlight) for both teams was an anomaly. Rarely is one team dominant on their offensive boards only to be eclipsed on their defensive boards. The 'Cats only slightly improved (>40% of the Panther misses translated into second chance opportunities) in the second half. The 'Cats went to the locker room at the half down by six largely on the strength of Pitt's perfect half at the line (and those 10 points Pitt scored off of second chance opportunities).

Notes & Observations
1. Fisher and Reynolds continue to be the engines offensively. Both had eFG% >= 50.0%, while taking > 30% of the shots, but Fisher logged only 22 minutes (about 55% of the available time), due in part to first half fouls. The second wave on offense (Stokes, Wayns and Pena), Stokes excepted, were unable to efficiently convert shooting opportunities into points. King had a good day from the field, a close in layup early in the second half seemed to get him on track, but he did not shoot much, 3 FGAs total in 18 minutes of play (all in the 13 minutes he logged in the second half), which translates into a 12.6% shot rate (he took about 1 in 8 shots when he was on the court).
2. Scottie Reynolds passed the 2,100 point mark, logging a total of 2,113 points in his four year career at Villanova. Reynolds is now ranked #3 on the list of all-time scorers, and only one of three players (Kerry Kittles, 2243 points & Keith Herron, 2170 points) in the history of the men's program to score more than 2,100 points in his career. At the current pace (about 19 ppg), Scottie will need another seven games to challenge Kerry Kittles' all-time scoring record.
3. The staff used 11 players total, keeping the starters in for 73% of the time, the most since the Temple game back in December. Pace and difficulty getting transition baskets most likely playing a large role in determining the time allocation. One starter (Redding) and a bench player (King) fouled out.

Ref Notes
Jamie Luckie, Michael Stephens and Michael Stuart comprised the referee crew at the Peterson. For Luckie and Stuart, this was their first Villanova game this season (though each has ref'ed multiple games in earlier seasons). Stephens has ran five earlier games including the Louisville and second Georgetown games (anyone see a trend?). Villanova's record this season when Stephens has a whistle, is 3-3.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Big East Differentials -- Two Weeks Out

The Composite With 2 Weeks Left...
I have continued to scrape Ken Pomeroy's web site on a regular basis (many thanks to KP for the raw data on D1 ball...his renewed blog posts are a terrific addition to the analysis this season) for his possession-based, game-by-game, results. I thought, with about 74% of the conference schedule in the books, I would revisit the conference-only games and take another look at the state of the Big East at this point...

RecordPoints Per Poss.
West Virginia940.6921.141.000.14
Notre Dame680.4291.131.130.00
Seton Hall670.4621.051.09-0.04
South Florida670.4621.031.08-0.05
St. John's490.3080.951.02-0.07
Std Dev.

The six tiers that were obvious in the earlier part of the conference season have largely rounded out into a curve as teams, both high and low in the standings, are beating each other up. The St. John's at South Florida game earlier this afternoon should have (according to Ken Pomeroy's log5 calculation) been a six point loss for the Johnnies, not the 16 point win that will put them one loss out of a four-way tie for 9th place. The separation between teams #1 through #7 are well separated from teams #8 through #16. Notre Dame, despite the 0.00 differential, is actually slightly to the negative (hardly surprising anyone who has followed the Irish for the past four seasons), about -0.003. Interesting because that indicates that teams with positive differentials (offense scores more points per possession than the defense yields) -- teams #1 through #7 -- have records >0.500, while teams that have negative differentials (defense gives up more points per possession than the offense scores) have records < 0.500. It is fairly common for a conference to have a team (or two) that has a positive differential and a winning percentage < 0.500, or a team with a negative differential and a winning percentage &ft; 0.500.West Virginia and Marquette continue to be the outliers of the upper division, as both have fewer wins than their differentials suggest their play should have earned them. According to Pythagoras, both are short two wins apiece. The Mountaineers' game against Seton Hall will probably shave their differential a bit. Syracuse along with Villanova have spent February jockeying for the spot below the Mountaineers. The Wildcats are into the more difficult stretch of their schedule, and have had difficulty getting ahead of the Orange. DePaul and Rutgers have engaged in a similar, spirited competition, albeit at the other end of the conference standing. Providence has only recently fallen into position #14, the end result of a stretch in their (February) conference schedule that includes Syracuse, Marquette, Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia.

According to Pythagoras...
Using the differentials to project a final record is hardly reliable, but for a number of teams, seem interesting. According to the projection for example Georgetown and Marquette will close out their conference slates without dropping another game. For the Hoyas that means a 4-0 run, while the Golden Eagles would finish with a 5-0 run (a 9-1 run if you include the five previous games) -- that should be warrant an invitation to the NCAA. Connecticut and Notre Dame would finish with 3-1 runs (actually for UConn, given their win on Saturday, a 2-1 finish), while Louisville would finish with a 4-1 run (3-1 counting the DePaul win Saturday afternoon). For the Cardinals that may be a very tall order as they still have Connecticut, Syracuse, Marquette and Georgetown. That has to be one of the toughest finishing slates (though Villanova's Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia run might be a close second).

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Houston Baptist at NJIT

by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, NJ - In a Great Western Conference meeting, Houston Baptist edged NJIT , the conference’s Eastern most school, 62-58 at the Prudential Center on Thursday.

In a 70 possession game (Houston Baptist 71 NJIT 68), the Efficiency and Factors:


Houston Bapt.8737382418

Each media time out we were supplied with a box score. Did a run down of the time of the media time out, the score and offensive efficiency. For instance at 15:47 NJIT had an OE of 86 while Houston Baptist was 33.

TimeScoringO. Eff.
15:476-2 NJIT86-33 NJIT
11:5612-4 NJIT86-31 NJIT
5:5624-15 NJIT100-58 NJIT
3:4326-20 NJIT90-65 NJIT
Half31-22 NJIT91-63 NJIT
14:5837-34 HB84-79 HB
11:0741-39 HB80-78 HB
7:2045-44 HB82-82
3:3954-53 NJIT87-83 NJIT
0:0062-58 HB87-85 HB

The appreciable damage was the first four minutes of the second half. Houston Baptist was the aggressor, shooting 4 of 6, forcing turnovers and going on a momentum altering 11-4 run.

Both team’s efficiencies were relatively close. NJIT certainly defended and rebounded well enough to win. Coach Jim Engles attributed the loss to a ‘lack of focus’ at key times. That was certainly evident in the 27% turnover rate. The foul line also hurt. The visiting Huskies went to the line more but also took advantage. They were 21 of 23 from the charity stripe while NJIT was 6 of 15. NJIT actually shot better from three 8 of 17 for 47% than they did from the line (40%).

In the stretch NJIT could not make he necessary stops. Andrew Gonzalez, a 6-6 forward and one of the conference’s marquee players did most of the damage with a game high 31 points. Ironically Gonzalez had the only two misses fro the line for his team but he did go 14 of 16 from the stripe. Isaiah Wilkerson led NJIT with 19 points.

Houston Baptist improved to 6-2 in the GWC (7-19 overall) while NJIT is 2-3 in conference and 7-15 on the season.

At the Rock

Prior to the men’s game the women of the respective schools had the opportunity to play at the Rock. Houston Baptist entered the game with 3 wins and a -30 efficiency margin so the outcome was not too surprising. NJIT rolled 72-46 in a 78 possession game.


Houston Bapt.5931302837

NJIT jumped out to a 43-18 halftime lead and was never seriously threatened. Houston Baptist did not break down their conference stats on the game notes so I computed the overall numbers from 22 games. The Huskies entered with an offensive efficiency of 72 and a turnover rate of 32%. The efficiency was a little lower than normal and the TO rate, thanks to 29 turnovers, higher than their normally excessive average.

Jessica Gerald led NJIT with 22 points in 22 minutes as coach Margaret McKeon gave every one of her ten players at least 12 minutes of playing time. Houston Baptist had one double figure scorer, sophomore guard Taniqua Hollis with 10 points. Houston Baptist is now 3-20 and 1-7 in the GWC. NJIT is 9-12 and a challenging 4-1 in the conference.

In blowouts of this magnitude, NJIT led by 39 with just under 15 minutes left, the style of play often degenerates. Not so in NJIT’s case as they assisted on 64% (14 of 22) of their field goals. That added up to less one on one and more ball movement even with the outcome not in doubt.

Hospitality. From AD Lenny Kaplan on down the keynote at NJIT is hospitality. And that extends to the fans as well as media. On Thursday the NJIT staff took it a step farther. For the media pre-game meal in the press room they invited the NJIT cheer leading squad (pictured) to enjoy a bill of fare that included chicken parm and penne pasta. Bon apatite ladies.

A league of their own. Both coaches in the NJIT program are extremely happy with their respective teams now playing in a conference.

“It’s great because our kids follow the conference and will go online and check the other team’s results. They knew they had to be ready tonight with a big game (Texas-Pan American) on Saturday. - Women’s coach Margaret McKeon

“Being in a conference is great because now your players have a pre-conference part of their schedule. Once conference play and post season comes around that’s like two new seasons to look forward to.” - Men’s coach Jim Engles
The Pregame Meal

Friday, February 19, 2010

Connecticut Post Game: Crunch Time

A Crisis of Confidence...
The Wildcats were a little shakey coming out of the Providence; the final score was Villanova +11, while the projections suggsted a score closer to +19. The 'Cats had underperformed versus Ken Pomeroy's projection in three of their last four games. In the aftermath of the Connecticut game, the count is now four of their last five games. For Connecticut the stakes coming in were much higher. The Huskies had logged their worst effort of the season over the weekend as they fell to a middling Cincinnati team , up in Storrs.

The Official website has an AP wire story and the box score. The breakdown by halves...

 Offense Defense

Half-time Adjustments
The breakdown by halves largely details the breakdown in the second half. Normally if Villanova's first half Rating was -2.6 below their opponent's first half rating, and they went on to register a 120.3 Rating in the second half, they should win the game. Note however, how Connecticut's second half Rating was 144.3. The 'Cats won't win too many game giving up that much on defense. Going into the locker room down one at the half has not usually been cause for concern among the Villanova faithful. Coach Calhoun identified one of UConn's strategies (I took it from the press conference he was thinking of the second half particularly) was to deliberately vary the speed of their possessions -- use a half-court set one possession, then penetrate and kick (or push a low post entry pass) early in the next possession. When Walker and Dyson saw a press coming, push the ball up court more quickly (or pass it around in the back court a bit...) to confuse Villanova's defenders. Coach Calhoun identified sideline traps as an opportunity to exploit Villanova's tendency to help-defend. When the 'Cats "closed the trap", the ball handler looked for the undefended Huskie. They were (as the conversion rates suggest) very successful at finding the open man. Connecticut's point distribution for the second half speaks volumes about how well they controlled the flow of the game, ½ of their points came from the free throw line (note the 200.0% FTA/FGA rate in red). All the more surprising given their efficiency at converting FGAs (note they hit 2/3 of their 2s and their 3s).

Notes & Observations
1. Fisher and Reynolds continue to be the most productive 'Cats from the field offensively. Both had eFG% >= 50.0%, while the second wave on offense (King, Stokes, Cheek, Wayns and Pena) had varying degrees of success (or more accurately for most of them...lack of success) at field goal conversion. Everyone in the second wave had an eFG% of 45.0% and 43.8%.
2. Antonio Pena and Corey Stokes redeemed themselves at the line as both made up for poor shooting nights with perfect free throw conversion rates. Their PPWS's were 1.12 and 1.19 respectively.
3. Scottie Reynolds failed to get to the free throw line for only the second time this season (the Delaware game was the first), and the first time in Big East play. Reynolds has averaged nearly seven FTA's per game in Big East play, converting just under six times per Big East game.
4. The staff played 11 players, keeping the starters in for 62.5% of the time, fouls most likely playing a large role in determining the time allocation. Both Stokes and Pena (two of the starting five) fouled out.
5. Probably linked to the foul situation, Isaiah Armwood logged 18 minutes of play. Armwood, whose playing in the OOC portion of the schedule averaged 7.4 minutes per game (mpg), has averaged 13.9 mpg in Big East play. Armwood has played 18 or more minutes in three of Villanova's last four games.

Ref Notes
Jim Burr, Ed Corbett and Tony Greene manned the crew. Both teams absorbed a combined 49 fouls, about 60% logged against Villanova players. Play in the low post was brutal, as Antonio Pena (6th time this season), Maurice Sutton and Corey Stokes (3rd time this season) were DQ'd before the final whistle. All three have refereed at least one other Villanova game this season. The Wildcats are 2-2 with Jim Burr this season, 1-1 with Tony Greene and 3-1 with Ed Corbet. This was only the 3rd time this season that the 'Cats logged eight or more fouls than their opponent (care to guess the other two?). That the Wildcats tend to be whistled for more fouls than their opponents has been noted in a variety of places (like at baseline stats and at Basketball Prospectus) as part of "tsk tsk" commentaries. I have suggested in a number of posts and places that Villanova can (typically) take the additional fouls with little loss of quality of play. There is not a big drop off (thankfully) between #5 and #9/10 in the Wildcat's rotation. Free throw shooting (FTMs actually, converted FTAs) however, is another matter. When the number of fouls and FTAs is even/close, Villanova tends to benefit because they convert FTAs very efficiently (>77% typically). When the disparity is large, as it was for the Georgetown game (the Hoyas had 37 more attempts and netted 22 more points than the 'Cats at the free throw line) and the Connecticut game (24 more attempts, net to 19 more points). While historically UConn has tended to win the battle at the foul line, that is a bit unusual for the Hoyas.

Post Game Press Conferences
"...In the three games we've lost, Fernandez, Clark and Freeman and now Walker...have gone off on us. We didn't have an answer..." -- Coach Wright, Villanova.
Kemba Walker indeed was a problem. The sophomore point guard scored a career-high 29 points and got to the free throw line

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Rider at St. Peter's

by Ray Floriani

JERSEY CITY, NJ - A team that fell into the ‘what is wrong with’ category suddenly seems alive and well. Rider stopped St.Peter’s 72-66 at Yanitelli Center for their fifth win in their last seven games.

The factors and numbers from a 69 possession game:


In a statistical oddity, reflected by the Offensive Rebounding (TO%) percentage, Rider had two offensive rebounds. When you shoot 71% the second half and 58% for the game, opportunities for offensive boards are scarce. Rider coach Tommy Dempsey also added that defense and rebounding are St.Peter’s’ identity. So while the Broncs made a great percentage of their shots, any misses weren’t automatically going to fall into Rider’s hands.

Prime time. Ryan Thompson, Rider’s outstanding senior guard, had two points (1 of 5 shooting) at the half. He finished with a game high 21 points. Thompson shot 9 of 14 for the game and in the last ten minutes , he responded as his number was frequently called in a 2-3 possession game. Over the course of the final 16 minutes, Thompson had 7 of Rider’s 14 field goals. Once again, you would be hard pressed to find a shot or play he forced.

Rider did a good job on Nick Leon holding the St.Peter’s junior guard and perimeter threat to 10 points on 3 of 11 shooting. Ryan Bacon had a solid 13 point 8 board night while St.Peter’s was paced by Jeron Belin’s 15 points off the bench.

Inside. Peacocks won the battle of the boards 36-28 but Rider did their damage in the paint with a 46-28 scoring advantage. Rider held a 31-26 halftime lead then went inside to Mike Ringgold the first two possessions. The 6-7 junior was too much for St.Peter’s to handle in the paint. He finished with 17 points and shot 8 of 10 from the floor. St.Peter’s assistant John Morton hoped to play Ringgold one on one while location Rider’s other threats as Ryan Thompson. It was a gamble that proved decisive as Ringgold was a force in the paint.

Missing the action. You may have noticed in the prior paragraph a comment by John Morton, the St.Peter’s assistant. Morton ran the team while head coach John Dunne was home sick with the flu. Morton ran the walk through and shoot around in the morning. By late afternoon he found out Dunne could not get to the game and was set to run the team.

“We have taken some hits but we are going to be a tough team to beat in the (MAAC) tournament. We have the experience of having won games in the tournament and that is a big factor.” - Rider coach Tommy Dempsey

“Filling in as head coach wasn’t that difficult. Coach Dunne gives us a lot of responsibility as assistants in practice and implementing a game plan. We had a game plan in place and executed it.” - St.Peter’s assistant John Morton on filling in for John Dunne
Rider's Ryan Thompson
post game press conference

Monday, February 15, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: DePaul at Seton Hall

by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, NJ - Two straight on the homestand and five in a row at home. Seton Hall defeated DePaul 79-71 Sunday at the Prudential Center. It was the Pirates fifth consecutive win at home in Big East play.

The factors and numbers from a 70 possession (DePaul 71 Seton Hall 68) game:


Seton Hall11653193915

Perspective. Seton Hall led 50-35 at the half and Bobby Gonzalez was hoping his team would come out and extend the margin to the twenty point range. DePaul did not let it happen and actually reduced it to a two possession game in the waning moments. While Gonzalez did not get the one sided win he thought might transpire, the Hall mentor did get a win and will gladly take it. Especially when you look at what happened on this Valentine’s Day : Rutgers over Georgetown, Louisville upsetting Syracuse at the Dome and St.John’s edging Notre Dame in South Bend.

The better half. DePaul interim coach Tracy Webster credits improved defense and better scoring the final twenty minutes as factors allowing the Blue Demons back in the game. You can also discuss turnovers or cutting down on them. DePaul committed 8 the first half for a 22% rate. After intermission they had only five and wound up with an 18%, more acceptable, mark. The turnovers also allowed the Pirates to speed up the visitors who favor a low to mid sixty possession tempo. The DePaul tempo breakdowns:


Three possessions may not seem like much but they are significant in a game of this pace.

Added numbers of note. Jeremy Hazell led Seton Hall with 18 points. Hazell shot 6 of 16 but did stay within the offensive framework. In fact his first field goal was in transition when he got the ball on the wing behind the arc, ball faked then went in for a dunk. Jeff Robinson (7 of 10 from the floor) added 16 while Herb Pope had 8 points but contributed a game high 15 boards. Hall shot 49% for the game but did the dame inside. Pirates were 26 of 47 (55%) from two point range.

DePaul’s leading scorer Will Walker led all players with 19 points. Walker shot 7 of 24 and Gonzalez was pleased with the Hall’s defensive effort on Walker. Seldom used freshman forward Tony Freeland came off the bench to add 18 points , 8 rebounds in 35 minutes. The 6-6 Freeland entered the game averaging 8 minutes in Big East play and one assumes those eight minute appearances will be a thing of the past. Mac Koshwal, whom Gonzalez feels is an underrated big man, added 10 points 11 rebounds for the Blue Demons.

DePaul is 8-16, 1-11 in Big East and entertains Rutgers on Tuesday. Seton Hall improves to 14-9, 5-7 and visits St.John’s at Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday.

“They have a good style. They like to get up and down the floor and know where their shots are coming from.” - DePaul Interim Coach Tracy Webster on Seton Hall

“We haven’t played our best basketball as of yet. I think by Big East Tournament time we will be a team no one will want to face” - Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez

Seton Hall Cheerleaders
rally the fans & team

Providence Post Game: Technicals, Part 3

We Got Tangled Up...
There are three types of technicals...
1. Smart Technicals -- The coach wants to communicate with an official (or his team), and normal channels, already used, have not worked. A month ago in Louisville Coach Wright was angry his team was on the short end of a number of calls. A well-timed (if apparently spontaneous) outburst directed at an official seemed to get everyone's attention. The dynamic changed after that call. The calls tended to "even out", and the low post play tended to get fewer whistles.
2. Failed Technicals -- When a coach rides an official into calling a technical he (or she) is taking a calculated gamble. The upside is that it can change the dynamic of the game. That is, it can change the way the officials interact with the two teams and call the game. It can change the intensity with which the coach's team plays the game (and approaches their opponent). The immediate risk is the prospect of giving away up to two points on the current possession, and immediate possession of the ball. That can be tricky, because the opponent might score between zero (at the best) and four points (at worst) in that conceded possession. And a change in the dynamic (if any change in fact comes to pass) may be for the worse. If the gamble pays off, the coach is a genius -- see Smart Technicals above. And if the "T" has no effect, or heaven-forbid, a negative effect, it has to go down as a failed gamble. In the 2/06 Georgetown game, the technical called on Coach Wright at 7:07 of the first half was the tenth foul called on Villanova to that point. Georgetown had picked up three fouls. Through the rest of the half, the Hoyas picked up seven more fouls to Villanova's five. But Coach Wright's gamble backfired as the Wildcats, down by nine at the time of the "T", ceded another 10 points to Georgetown, and went to the locker room down 19 at the half.
3. Knucklehead Technicals -- Head coaches are not the only ones who draw technicals. An assistant coach or two have been known to draw the ire of an official, and a technical to boot. This season a student manager was identified as the culprit in an incident. No surprise he was let go the next day (justly or unjustly...). And of course, players have also drawn technicals. The Villanova-Providence actually saw two players, both seniors, draw technicals. Unusual in that that each drew his respective technical in two separate incidents that occurred in different halves. Normally two players will exchange words, and engage in some shoving. While not serious enough for an ejection (which leads to an inevitable suspension...), the game referees will assess a technical to each player, thereby negating any advantage one or the other team may draw from the incident. The first half technical was assessed against Reggie Redding, a senior suspended for the fall semester during the summer of 2009. Redding has returned, but has yet to round into the form that had Villanova fans excited last spring. It was a contest rebound after a Vincent Council miss. Council got the rebound (and I thought a foul, announced by the PA at the time, but not recorded in the Play-by-Play). Redding raised his arms (shoving, not punching), and the referee put Council on the line to shoot and then take the ball out of bounds. A tightly contest game, going nip and tuck through 31 ½ minutes. Both sides probing for an edge, any advantage that will help them put the other side behind them and keep them down. And then senior Sharaud Curry snapped. He was called for his fourth foul, the second foul in just over a minute, for a block on a Scottie Reynolds drive. Looking up at the official, Curry lost it, snapping "What foul?" at the official as he raised his arms in a shrugging gesture. That was, apparently, enough for that official, at that point in the game. The technical became Curry's fifth, and the senior watched the last eight minutes from the Providence bench.

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

 Offense Defense

Half-time Adjustments
Given both teams are known more for offense than defense (this season anyway) and for high possession games, I thought the pace would be well into the 40s by half-time, and the score somewhere in the mid-40 to low-50s. I was half right, as the pace was a scorching 44.5 possessions. That works out to between 88 and 89 possessions over the course of the game. The points -- Villanova had 40 and Providence was just five points off that mark at 35, came from volumn (of possessions), not from offensive efficiency. Check the table above for each team (under first half). Neither team broke 100 for efficiency (points per 100 possessions). Villanova checked in with an offfensive rating of 89.9 (or about 0.9 points per possession) while Providence was an even less impressive 78.7 (or about 0.79 points per possession). For the Wildcats, the problem was not getting their shots to drop, a 52.9% eFG% is not bad at all, the problem was getting the shot off. Or a second chance if the first FGA missed. Villanova lost over 1 in 4 possessions in the first half and rebounded only (about) one in five misses, not good numbers. The Friars shot poorly, plain and simple.

Notes & Observations
1. The Coreys and Reynolds became the focal point for the offense. In the past seven games Fisher and Reynolds have either "tied" each other (four times) or come within a point (once) in five of those games. Saturday the number was 22, and both players hit that mark, Fisher in 33 minutes, Reynolds in 27 minutes. Stokes took as large a role as the other two, but had did not convert with the same efficiency as Reynolds and Fisher (31.8% eFG% vs 53.6% and 66.7%).
2. Antonio Pena logged his 6th double-double of the season, his first in February and the first since Notre Dame.
3. Isaiah Armwood had the most promising outing of the freshmen. He scored five points on 1-2 (0-0, 1-2) and 3-4 shooting. His points were matched by his rebounding and assists; he had five (1-4-5) rebounds and an assist in 15 minutes of play.
4. The staff played 11 players, but kept the starters in for 70.6% of the time, the largest slice allocated to the starting five since the Maryland game in early December. The starting five, Reynolds, Fisher, Redding, Pena and Stokes, is still in place. The starting five has remained the same since Delaware.

Ref Notes
James Breeding, Ed Hightower and Doug Shows manned the crew. The crew called 48 total fouls on both sides, two more than the Villanova-West Virginia game, and nine more than Seton Hall, the last home game. 48 fouls is within the expected range, as were the number of free throws taken by both teams. This was Hightower's and Shows' first Villanova game this season, Breeding (3-0) officiated two earlier games.

Live Blogging
Doing my fourth Villanova live blog this season, I made a point of getting to the Wach early and settling into press row. Having an episode in the Georgetown game with the Wachovia's WIFI facilities, I wanted to make sure everything would be in place. My laptop froze (of course) five minutes before tip off, a problem I did not get worked out for about 15 minutes. That hurtle taken, I found the "normal" ebb and flow of the WIFI signal was less disruptive than in the earlier game. The staff provided real time stats on press row, an invaluable resource for this blogger. I will host Rush the Court's live blog from the UConn game on Monday night. After you have settled into your favorite message board game thread, be sure to open another tab and come over to Rush the Court.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Notre Dame at Seton Hall

by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, NJ - Notre Dame had two looks from three point land the final possession. They missed and Seton Hall held on for a 90-87 thriller at the Prudential Center on Thursday.

In a 71 possession game, the Efficiency and Factors:

Notre Dame12364462420
Seton Hall12765201911

The Defense rests? Well, if you look at the eFG and efficiency figures it appears so. Notre Dame trailed at the half 49-39 and coach Mike Brey will be the first to admit the Irish gave up too many points. They did make it a one possession game the second half and Brey noted it was because they were able to get key stops.

Seton Hall did two things that stood out defensively. They forced the Irish, who entered the game as a possession caring 14% Turnover Rate (TO%) club, into 14 turnovers and a 20% rate. Of greater significance was the Hall’s 20-5 edge in points off turnovers.

The Hall also defended Luke Harangued (25 PPG) in Big East play. Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez used fresh bodies on Harangody in the person of Jeff Robinson, John Garcia and Herb Pope. Harangody left with an ankle injury with about 5 minutes to go but could only manage 13 points on 4 of 10 shooting in 29 minutes.

Jeremy Hazell. What more can you say other than this line?


Hazell logged 36 minutes and was in the "shooter’s zone". EFF is the NBA efficiency total. Eff/Min is the minutes divided by efficiency, both numbers were very high. Brey noted that Hazell has a habit of getting the team going momentum wise with his scoring, especially at the Rock. The ND coach also noted that Hazell was coming off a tough 2 point (1 of 7 shooting) night in last week’s loss to Pitt. And the odds of a good shooter coming up with two straight subpar efforts are rare.

The free throws. Hall missed two one and ones the final minute (Pope and Keon Lawrence) and it nearly cost them. ND shot 23 of 27 from the line which greatly aided their effort to hang around. The Pirates were 12 of 19, amazingly enough the exact same numbers (63%) they posted from beyond the arc.

Final Notes.. Tory Jackson led ND with 25 points and Tim Abromatis added 18. Jackson had an outstanding second half consistently getting in the lane and knocking down four treys. Abromatis, a 6-8 junior, can work inside (he had 8 boards) and do damage on the perimeter. He was 12 of 12 from the line.

Jeff Robinson had 14 points and Gonzalez said it was a point of emphasis for the Hall to get a big man in double figures. Eugene Harvey got the starting nod at point and the Pirate senior had a very effective 9 point 10 assist 1 turnover showing in 28 minutes.

Seton Hall is 13-9, 4-7 in conference and hosts DePaul on Sunday. Notre Dame is 17-8, 6-6 and hosts St.John’s on Sunday. Brey spoke about the Red Storm’s big win over Louisville at MSG and that he is not too excited about facing them. Late breaking news is Harangody will miss Sunday’s game.

God and Notre Dame. There’s ‘Touchdown Jesus’ at South Bend and legend and lore claims ND is under the watchful divine eye of the Lord. Well a Seton Hall priest (pictured) was taking no chances. About 20 minutes prior to the game he was chatting with officials Tim Higgins (background) and Ed Hightower (right).

“If I write a book it will be ‘My Life on the Bubble’. But it’s better to be on the bubble than not.” - Notre Dame coach Mike Brey

“It was an important win especially coming off three straight losses. We made shots when we had to.” - Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez

A Seton Hall Official Providing Spiritual Guidance
to Referees Ed Hightower & Tim Higgins

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Mid-Conference Season Look at Defense

The Offense is Good, But What About the Defense?
Whether the rater is Stat Fox using per capita metrics, or Ken Pomeroy using possession-based metrics, the offense is ranked among the best in D1 and one of the best in the program's history. The defense however, is a different story...

eFGTrnovrOpp RebFTA/FGADef Rtg

Going into the season I wondered how the staff would adjust the defense to accommodate the large number of new front court players. Three months into the season the defense has definitely changed (for the better?) as noted in a number of message board threads, blog postings and mass media articles. I accessed Ken Pomeroy's Stats Page to download a snapshot of the defense through 2/09/2010 (through Monday's game at West Virginia) and compared the numbers with those of the team at approximately the same point in the seasons 2007, 2008 & 2009.

Trade Offs
In 2007 and 2008 Villanova was an average-to-below-average team for defending/contesting opponent's field goal attempts. Ranked #154 in 2007 when D1 had 336 teams (the midpoint is 168) and #281 in 2008 when D1 had 341 (the midpoint is 171) indicates the Wildcats were weak at getting opponents to miss. Those teams countered by...
1. Forcing turnovers (those teams were ranked in the 11th percentile...elite?
2. The 2007 team severely limited opponents' 2nd chance opportunities by grabbing over 70% of the available defensive rebounds (good for a 10th percentile ranking).

Note the 2008 team stepped back in rebounding and fouling on defense to go with a step back in shot defense (that was probably the worst shot defense team Villanova sent to the NCAAs this decade). Large contributing factors to their decline in the defensive rankings. The key to defensive success for those teams was to limit opponents' points by limiting their opportunities to score, and not by forcing them to miss when they shot. Indeed, the 2007 team took 125 more field goal attempts than their opponents, while the 2008 team attempted nearly 200 more field goals.

The 2009 and 2010 teams have developed a different profile, better shot defense and less emphasis on turning over opponents' possessions. The 2009 team's eFG% rank (49) put the team in the 15th percentile for shot defense, an excellent rank given the team's ranking in turnovers and rebounding. Fouling has been a problem for all four teams, but if the Wildcats get to the line at least as often as their opponents (true for 15 of the team's 23 games this season), then points from the line should be fairly even.

Which brings us to the Temple and Georgetown games. The Owls had seven more trips to the line than the Wildcats. The 11 free throw attempts are the lowest number of FTAs so far this season. The Wildcats converted 9 of 11 shots, while the Owls converted 12 of 17 attempts, yielding a three point advantage to Temple. The losing margin was 10, larger than the shot and conversion differentials. Georgetown converted 39 of 50 attempts (not a typo), while the 'Cats converted 17 of 23 attempts. The FTA differential, 27, is substantial, while the conversion differential, 17 to 39, is above the Hoyas' margin of victory. Villanova has benefited twice this season from a similar, "free throw differential exceeds winning margin" phenomena -- in the Puerto Rico Tip Off the 'Cats beat Dayton by six, but had 10 more points than the Flyers at the free throw line, and against Seton Hall, the winning margin, 10, matched the Wildcats' scoring differential at the line.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

West Virginia #01 Post Game: Bounce Back Games

What Just Happened?
A two game road trip to start off Rivalry Week will take the Wildcats to Washington DC for a game with Georgetown, with the next stop (two days later) in Morgantown, WV for a game with WVU. If you know the 'Cats will go 1-1, which do you think the Wildcats have a better chance of taking, Georgetown at the Verizon Center or West Virginia at the Coliseum? With fresh memories of a 55-53 decision that came to pass on a referee's whistle and a 93-72 drubbing in which the team had a collective look of deer-in-the-headlights for 40 minutes I said Georgetown (besides, it is always fun to beat the Hoyas, sort of like reliving the moment). The Wildcats play with an intensity and focus when they take on Georgetown. Even when they are down by 20 because the Hoyas are raining 3s like an artillary barrage. That 13 point drubbing was no fun to watch -- it didn't feel like a Villanova-Georgetown game -- and I wondered if the Wildcats would be able to focus on the next game. It was not a problem apparently, as the 'Cats took control of the game early, held the 'Eers off at the end and left town with a seven point win. And the anticipated 1-1 record for their second-of-three conference mandated road trips this season.

The Official website has an AP wire story, some post game notes (compliments of Mike Sheridan I assume) and the box score. The breakdown by halves...

OpponentWest Virginia 
 Offense Defense

Half-time Adjustments
The pattern repeats -- a solid first half with a double-digit lead is followed by a less focused second half. The Wildcats were challenged by Mountaineer runs several times through the second half, and managed to shave the Wildcats' edge to three points twice. But no closer, as each run was answered with a Villanova run or a series of free throws.

Notes & Observations
1. In the mix-n-match world of Villanova's 11 man rotation the offense passed through Scottie Reynolds (Shot% 25.3, eFG% 55.0%), Isaiah Armwood (Shot% 25.3, eFG% 100.0% -- when he was in), Dom Cheek (Shot% 29.4, eFG% 116.7% -- also saw a few more minutes than usual). Fisher (Shot% 17.8, eFG% 55.0%) was limited by fouls (Min% -- 55%; he had four again, the second consecutive game where his time has been limited), while Pena (Shot% 18.3, eFG% 71.4%) and Redding (Shot% 19.6, eFG% 56.3%) joined Fisher with efficient, if limited, scoring.
2. Taylor King had a disasterous shooting night, going 0-6 from the floor. He did a terrific defensive job in the low post, grabbing eight rebounds (2-6-8) and blocking three shots (and committing four fouls) in 21 minutes.
3. Corey Stokes had a relatively quiet night, scoring six points on 2-3 shooting. His two scores were layups off lane dribble penetration. He looked good doing it too. He was one of several assigned to shut down Devin Ebanks. Mission accomplished.
4. This marks the 13th consecutive game in which the staff played 10 or more players. The starters (Reynolds, Fisher, Redding, Pena and Stokes, the same since Delaware) logged 69.5% of the PT, matching the high of Marquette #02, the highest since the staff went with a consistent 10-11 man rotation. Fisher had foul trouble, picking up his fourth at the 14:21 mark of the second half (his second, coming at the 2:48 mark, had little impact on his first half minutes), landed him on the bench for nearly 10 minutes. Coach Wright subbed him in situations for the last five plus minutes of the game. Fish has picked up 11 fouls in his last three games, taking him out of the action in crucial situations.

Ref Notes
John Cahill, John Higgins and Ed Corbett manned the crew. The zebras called 44 total fouls on both sides, six more than the 38 called on Villanova alone on Saturday. 44 fouls is within the expected range, as were the number of free throws taken by both teams. Note the Mountaineers took more FTAs, consistent with expectations for the home team, but more than the margin of victory, a dangerous sign. If the teams match FTA-for-FTA, the situation would statistically favor Villanova as the Wildcats' tend to hit their FTAs. This was Higgin's first Villanova game this season, Cahill (5-0) and Corbett (3-0) have officiated at least two other games so far.

Site Notes
I developed the summary by halves for both Georgetown and Notre Dame, though I have not had time to write them up. I will work out an system to make the splits available even when I don't have time to develop a post game post.