Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani -- At the Holiday Festival

by Ray Floriani

New York City - The format of the MSG Holiday Festival went through another alteration. Up until a few years ago it was contested just after Christmas. Since then it has been before December 25th and this season was not a true tournament. No semifinal and final doubleheader -- just a twin bill -- this past Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

The Holiday Festival logo

The scores:

Rutgers67 58Stony Brook
St. John's56 50Fordham

Possession and efficiency:

Stony Brook6688

View of MSG

St. John's6883

Notes & Points of Emphasis
1. Rutgers was tested.
The American East representatives, Stony Brook worked hard on the offensive glass showing a 46-32% edge in offensive rebounding percentage. Rutgers coach Mike Rice pointed out , partially in jest, that his Scarlet Knights (6-5) had too much holiday spirit and were willing to give up second chances to the Seawolves. Stony Brook did not have an easy time finishing those opportunities showing only a 13-9 lead in second chance points. Stony Brook (3-6) basically lived on the perimeter and shot better from three (7 of 24 for 29%) than from two (9 of 36 and 25%). Rutgers shot 56% from two en route to a 54% eFG mark. Both teams had identical and sloppy 24% TO rates. Myles Mack of Rutgers led all scorers with 22 points. The freshman guard did not start but proved the old axiom 'it is more important who finishes rather than starts the game'. Mack used 18% of the Scarlet Knight possessions and obviously was very much involved.

Rutgers coach Mike Rice feels his team was in a holiday mode
giving too many offensive rebounding 'gifts'

2. Fordham is improved
They entered MSG at 4-5. Tom Pecora is getting double figure scoring from three players, none are seniors. Junior Chris Gaston leads at 14.6 PPG while the backcourt of sophomore Branden Frazier (10.0) and freshman Devon McMillan (11.6) has been effective.

Against St. John's there were opportunities. Gaston got inside but struggled to finish. He scored 11 points, grabbed 14 rebounds (5 offensive) but was 4 of 16 from the field. Both clubs failed to hit 40% eFG with Fordham at 36% and St. John's not much better with 38%. The young Ram backcourt did a nice job caring for the ball with a 15% TO rate, compared to St. John's' 22%. Red Storm got the big and arguable game decisive advantage on the offensive glass. They showed a 42-24% dominance in offensive rebounding percentage. God's Gift Achiuwa (5) and Moe Harkness (3) accounted for half of the 16 St. John's offensive boards. Harkness, a 6-8 freshman swing man, had a nice 13 point, 16 rebound double-double.

3. St. John's has concerns
The Red Storm is now 5-5. Beyond the .500 won-lost record are other issues. The exit of Nurideen Lindsey further depletes an already thin squad. In the first half against Fordham the starters went the entire way. For the game, four players put in the full forty minutes. The only one who did not was freshman guard Sir Dominic Pointer who put in 36 minutes and spelled by Malik Stith for only 4 minutes. The biggest concerns in this situation are foul trouble -- the Storm do zone frequently to stay out of that situation -- and injuries. They can ill afford an injury to anyone. With Big East play and its physical nature, practices, plus Winter and the illnesses it can bring coming up, St. John's will be embarking on conference play in a very tenuous circumstance.

The Stony Brook band entertained
and enjoyed their MSG appearance

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Analysis of the Maggie Dixon Classic

by Ray Floriani

New York City – The annual Maggie Dixon Classic gave us two interesting games. The 5,486 in attendance saw St. John’s put up a good battle before falling to number one Baylor in a game closer than the score hints. In game two, Tennessee, despite coming in with two losses, proved they can defend and are still an elite program, not to go away any time soon.

At halftime a travel team from Oakland, NJ got to play on the Garden floor.
Yours truly officiated them in a tournament a week earlier.

Baylor73 59St. John's

The possessions and offensive efficiency:

St. John's6394

Of the Four Factors, two key areas saw the Bears excel. FT rate and offensive rebounding percentage. Baylor enjoyed 22-6% advantage in free throw rate (FTM/FGA) by virtue of hitting 14 free throws to St. John’s’ four. Red Storm, though, had only four attempts to Baylor’s 20. In the offensive rebounding department the advantage was a 43-31% difference in Baylor’s favor. Britney Griner, Baylor’s outstanding 6-8 junior center, had a game leading 13 rebounds. Three were offensive as Brooklyn Pope did the most damage for the Bears with five offensive rebounds.

St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico
makes a point

Second game score, possessions and efficiency:

Tennessee84 61De Paul

De Paul8175

Tennessee assistant Holly Warwick and Glory Johnson

Possession total shows us it was a bit of a faster pace. Very glaring number among those Four Factors, DePaul’s 30% turnover rate. Blue Demons had 24 turnovers and the 30% means almost one third of their offense resulted in the TO. Tennessee did have 19 of their own for a high 23% TO rate, a figure they will undoubtedly address in preparation for their next opponent.

A Look at Possessions and Usage
From Golden State of mind site there was a nice piece on advanced statistical breakdowns you can use analyzing the NBA. Actually, the metrics are applicable for the college game as well.

To calculate individual possessions you employ this formula:

Poss = FGA + (FTA * .475) + TO

The NBA free throw multiplier is .44, on the college level the accepted is .475. Once you have possessions of an individual player you divide that figure by team possessions. The final total is multiplied by 100 for the Usage percentage rate.

We will now take a look at the possessions and usage of the leading scorer for each team in the two games.

Player, TeamPossPts.Usage
B. Pope, Baylor191929
E. McPherson, SJU152324
J. Penny, De Paul111614
G. Johnson, Tenn181622

Taking it further let us look at the Baylor distribution. After all, they are the nation’s top ranked team:

B. Pope191929
B. Griner141717
O. Sims14817
K. Hayden111213
J. Madden181122
D. Williams445
M. Robertson000
S. Agbuke121

The usage totals 98% because many of the usage figures contained percentage points, under .5, which I did not round up. St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico targeted Griner and point guard Sims for added defensive attention. She knew Pope and Madden would get additional and/or open looks but was willing to take the chance. The usage points out the impact the latter two had on the Baylor attack and outcome.

Griner entered the game with a 21% usage while Sims was right behind at 20%.
The team records:

St. John's5-5
De Paul8-2

Baylor's Britney Griner graciously signs autographs

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani -- The Jimmy V Classic

by Ray Floriani

New York City – The annual Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden gave us two interesting games. In the opener, Missouri had a little too much of everything in defeating Villanova 81-71.

Pre-game national anthem

The pace and efficiency:


The Four Factors:


Jay Wright makes a point

Villanova coach Jay Wright watched all seven of Missouri’s previous games on tape. What he saw was a well coached, veteran team that defends and simply was a challenging task for his young Wildcats. “We were hoping to grind it out, keep it close near the end and possibly steal one,” Wright said.

Villanova trailed by double digits most of the second half but did close late to get it to a one possession game. Each time Villanova was unable to get any closer. The culprit was turnovers, untimely turnovers.

The Wildcats entered the game with a commendable 19% TO rate. Missouri, which exerts pressure in a half court setting forced Villanova into a 22% rate. That proved significant as Villanova shot well, got to the line and hit the boards hard. Transition points were crucial also as the Big Twelve representatives owned a 24-8 edge in fast break points.

Wildcats placed five players in double figures. Their points and Manley totals are as follows:

Maalik Wayns1413
Darrun Hilliard138
Dom Cheek1214
Mouphtaou Yarou1114
JayVaughn Pinkston1012

Maalik Wayns canned three treys in the stretch. He added 9 assists but did commit five turnovers. Yarou is a nice player inside but needs help. Pinkston did some fine work in the lane. He is still coming around as Wright noted “he (Pinkston) is rusty.” The Villanova mentor noted Pinkston not only sat out suspended last year but worked nine hours a day and was able to get little gym time for himself. Hilliard is a freshman with a nice shooting stroke. Cheek does a good job in the open floor.

Marcus Denmon led all scorers with 28 points. The Missouri guard was 6 of 10 from the floor. Kim English added 15 while Ricardo Ratliffe scored 17 points while grabbing 11 boards. Ratliffe proved it’s quality not quantity. He is Missouri’s only legitimate big man but the 6-8 senior forward is very effective.

Learning experience. Wright and several of his Villanova players echoed that sentiment following the game. “we’ll learn from this,” Cheek said. “We’ll watch the tape, get back to practice and just get better.”

View of court from
upper press box

• Spent the first half recording possessions longhand. Came up with 34 per team, the same as the formula yielded off the box score. Missouri led 42-29 at the break with a noticeable 125-85 advantage in offensive efficiency.

• Missouri is 8-0. Villanova is now 5-3 with a Saturday game at Temple next on tap.

Marquette vs. Washington
The night cap of the V saw Marquette edge Washington 79-77 in a game settled on the last possession. The pace and efficiency:


One of those rare occurrences, Washington won the efficiency battle but not the won-lost ‘war’. Huskies had a 46-28% lead in offensive rebounding percentage. Interestingly, Marquette had the edge 31-7% in free throw rate. Usually teams ‘owning’ the glass get to the line more.

A reason Marquette visited the line (27 to 10 in free throw attempts) more was their ability to attack the basket. They led 10-0 in fast break points and penetrated well.

The scoreboard tells the story of game two

Marquette coach Buzz Williams is a tempo free advocate who discussed Washington’s efficiency in the post game press conference. Williams is a stickler in preaching the value and numerical meaning of a possession to his players. Little surprise that Marquette had an outstanding 14% TO rate, as opposed to the 23% of the Huskies.

Jae Crowder (18 points) hit one three all night. It was the deciding basket for Marquette as a Washington attempt pon the next possession missed at the buzzer.

The leading scorers and Manley numbers:

Darius Johnson-Odom (MU)2317
Terrence Ross (WU)1924

• Marquette’s Jae Crowder had a Manley Efficiency of 17 along with his 18 points.

Chris Otule of Marqueete went out with a knee injury after the first two minutes. The 6-11 junior averages just over 5 p[oints per game but Williams felt his loss was significant in Marquette’s defending Washington’s ball screens.

• Marquette is 8-0, Washington is now 4-3.

• Huskies are spending a few more days in New York. They will take in a movie, two plays then on Saturday face Duke back at Madison Square Garden.

Villanova was the only schol to bring cheerleaders.
Here Ray is enjoying the company

Monday, December 5, 2011

Penn Post Game -- Closing Out

They Were on Fire, and Then...
There were times in the first half when it appeared, Big 5 game/rivalry or not, Villanova was going to sweep Penn right out of the Pavilion. The 'Cats opened with a 12-4 run in the game's first five minutes on their way to a 73-65 win over their Big 5 rival. The score understated the Wildcats' domination...


The teams were on track for a 32 possession half and a 64 possession game...with a score of 96-32 Villanova. Numbers too good to be sustained...and the skeptics were not disappointed. Not before Villanova doubled the score on Penn, 32-16 near the 3:00 mark of the first half. The Wildcats took a solid 18 point lead, 38-20, into the intermission.

"I thought it was important (with Maalik Wayns out with two first half fouls) that we did not let him (Penn point guard Zack Rosen) get started..." Coach Wright asserted in the post game press conference, "...because once he gets going, it's really tough to stop him..." This served as the explanation for Penn's point guard Zack Rosen's second half explosion. Going into the half with six points on 2-4 (0-1, 2-3) from the floor and 2-2 from the line, Penn's preseason favorite to take Player of the Year honors in the Big 5 used the time to gather himself, and returned to the floor to record 17 more points as he engineered the Quakers' second half rush to close the gap. Though they fell short, Penn whittled a deficit that bulged to 18 early in the half down to four with 0:15 left to play. Rosen's three pointer (one of seven they managed to convert after shooting 0-7 in the first half) brought the Quakers to 65-69, but they could get no closer as the young Wildcats hit their free throws to push the margin back out to eight.

With Maalik Wayns on the bench
Zack Rosen schools Achraf Yacoubou (24) in first half action

The bloggers over at focus on Villanova's nine game winning streak over Penn and how the squad converted at the line to bring home the win in their piece, "9 Straight for Cats Over Quakers". The Nova Blog noted Penn's second half rally in "Villanova Holds Off Penn's..." and how the Wildcats preserved the win. The University site posted the AP wire story and the official boxscore. The breakdown by halves

 Offense Defense

Half Time Adjustments
The pace was dictated by Villanova and remained consistent through both halves. Penn's marked, half-over-half improvement on offense (or Villanova's defensive lapse if you wish) was graphic and led by the turnaround on their outside shooting. The Wildcats kept their points per possession rate north of one (1.048 PPP) on the strength of their offensive rebounding, dramatic drop in turnovers and the large number of times they got to the line. From Zack Rosen's post game comments, "...I don't know where our confidence was...we want to go out and play with anybody, no matter who it is...and do what we do. I think in the second half we did what we did..." Indeed, the Quakers hit 7-13 from beyond the arc, One of the minor surprises is how Penn, which racked up a staggering 27 personal fouls managed to keep their entire rotation eligible for play. Three Quakers, Rosen, forward Henry Brooks and forward/center Cameron Gunter picked up four fouls apiece while four others had three fouls apiece. Five of Penn's 18 rostered players are 6-8 and taller. They struggled to block out Mouphtao Yarou, sending the junior forward to the line for 12 free throw attempts.

Notes & Observations
1. About Villanova's defense -- "We gotta learn we have to play 40's hard (to maintain defensive intensity), but good teams do that...when you're young...when you get a lead...the place you rest is on defense. When you're a veteran...and you're going to rest, you do it on offense" -- Coach Jay Wright

2. Maalik Wayns picked up his second foul with nine minutes left in the first half and sat for the balance of the period. He took no shots in the first half, dished two dimes, racked up a steal and committed two turnovers before retiring to the bench. Urged at the half to shoot more, the junior's line at the finish was 11 points on 2-4 (1-2 from beyond the arc, 1-2 inside) shooting from the field and 6-6 at the line.

Maalik Wayns' three pointer in the second half
helped staunch a Quaker comeback

3. With Wayns on the bench and Rosen on the loose, the staff with limited options turned to freshmen Ty Johnson and Achraf Yacoubou to pick up Wayns' minutes and they did not disappoint. Johnson logged 15 minutes as he manned the point, recording six points while providing three assists to two turnovers. The freshman grabbed a rebound and was credited with a steal. Yacoubou was a bit less productive offensively, but he did dish two dimes while committing one turnover in an 18 minute stint.

4. Yarou racked up a double-double, 21 points and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. The Quakers did not have a player, or combination of players who could contain Yarou.

Ty Johnson directs the Wildcats late in the first half

5. With the win, the latest in a streak of nine (as reported by, Villanova now holds a 39-14 edge over Penn in their Big 5 series. This is the least competitive of the head-to-head series within the Big 5.

Penn's Coach Jerome Allen directs the Quakers
from the sidelines

Roster Moves
The staff used an eight man rotation against Penn, the shallowest this season, as junior forward/center Maurice Sutton dislocated his right thumb in practice this week. He is expected to miss between two and three weeks. Do not look for him before the Big East season. Freshman forward Markus Kennedy collided with JayVaughn Pinkston in practice and sustained a shoulder injury. Coach Wright hopes he will be ready Tuesday for the Missouri game in Madison Square Garden.

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani -- Siena at St. Peter's

by Ray Floriani

Jersey City, NJ- The MAAC opener for both Siena and St. Peter's was played Thursday night at St. Peter's in Jersey City. While it is still early, the conference teams play two games prior to the new year. Getting off to a good start in league play is vital.

St. Peter's took advantage of home court and some outstanding defense posting a 51-44 victory. The pace and efficiency:

St. Peter's5494

Basic grind it out style of play as noted by the extremely low count of 54 turnovers. The key for St. Peter's in this one…

To little surprise St. Peter's limited Siena to an 82 offensive efficiency, the Peacocks forced a 26% turnover rate and limited the visitors to a 38% eFG mark. Siena shot 3 of 18 (16.7%) from three point range.

Siena trailed by 16 early in the second half but was able to tie it in the stretch. They never were able to get a lead which was significant from a momentum standpoint.

The Saints excelled at…offensive rebounding. They enjoyed a 39-25% edge in that area.

Chris Prescott of St. Peter's paced the scorers with 16 points. OD Anosike led Siena with a strong 12 point 10 rebound effort.

Manley efficiency leader.
Yvon Raymond of St. Peter's. Raymond put up a 'Manley' number of 18. He scored 15 points, pulled down 9 rebounds, had 2 assists, one block and only one turnover.

St. Peter's improved to 2-4 while Siena fell to the same won-lost record.

The coveted MAAC Championship Banner
Hangs in the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Leaving for Villanova Shortly...

Villanova versus Penn Tonight at 7pm
Media credentials in hand (or at the Pavilion), I am heading down for the game tonight. Hope to see some Nova Nation fans at the Pavilion as the Wildcats play the Quakers. I should be courtside somewhere (usually near the basket opposite the Villanova bench). Come up and say hi if you have time.

Game Time Note -- Maurice Sutton is out with a dislocated thumb. Expect 2-3 week of downtime, the beginning of the Big East season?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani -- St. Peter's at FDU

by Ray Floriani

Teaneck, NJ - In women's basketball, FDU defeated St. Peter's 55-46 on Tuesday at Stratis Arena. The efficiency and pace (kind of tells it all):
St. Peter's7561

Visiting St.Peter's of the MAAC pushed the pace on both ends as the mid-seventies possession count shows. FDU, with point guard Amanda Andrades out with an ankle injury, struggled at the lead guard spot. FDU was guilty of 24 turnovers. Coach Peter Cinella credited St. Peter's defense but did admit his club needs work on cutting down on turnovers. Part of the problem was FDU accelerating when there was need to sporting a double digit lead and just under ten minutes to go. The TO rates are as follows:

St. Peter's21%

Not an artistic gem of a game on either end. FDU entered the game with a 31% TO rate, so there is work to be done.

Mariyah Laury of FDU (3-5) led all scorers with 14 points. Laury did have 4 assists, but 8 turnovers as she was making the transition from two guard to the lead. Laury came through in the clutch, scoring two crucial baskets as St. Peter's rallied to get it to a one possession game in the stretch with two minutes to play. Jesika Holmes led St. Peter's (0-4) with 13 points.

Shooting, was a sore spot for St.Peter's. They shot 26% for the game including 9.5% (2 of 21) from three. The foul line wasn't much better as St. Peter's was only 44%. It was that kind of night for the Peahens.

Stat Stuffer: FDU forward Desiree Crawford with a Manley efficiency of 17. Crawford scored 7 points (3 of 8 shooting) but offset the under 50% shooting with 11 rebounds, 'only' two turnovers (not bad considering FDU's TO woes) and 7 blocks.

Stratis Arena interior during the game