It was great to have Baker Dunleavy back in Philadelphia last night. But it was even better to hand him and his Bobcats a loss. Nova looked significantly better than they had the previous game, and for those of you who don’t have FS2, here are the highlights.
The entire non-conference season is going to be a learning experience for the Wildcats. The younger players are coming along, but it’s going to be a gradual process. With that in mind, we’re bringing back the Four Factors to take a deeper dive into the stats that matter most and see how Nova’s improving.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) - Villanova wins by 17.5%
Offense: Game - 55.8%, Season - 57.8%, Last Year - 59.5%
While the shooting percentages were a little down in this game vs. Morgan State, I thought last night was more impressive offensively. More importantly, we got to see how this team responded to Eric Paschall sitting almost the entire first half with two early fouls. It may have been against lesser competition, but the Cats responded exactly the way you’d hope they would.
Booth stepped up as the offensive firepower, scoring from everywhere on the court. Collin Gillespie and Joe Cremo (who got his first Nova start) found open shots on the perimeter and went a combined 6 for 11 from deep. Saddiq Bey and Jermaine Samuels, who look like this year’s co-6th man candidates, combined for 15 points. Paschall still put up double digits in just 20 minutes on the court, because of course he did!
For the rest of the Wildcats, some patience will be required. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree had a solid night on 3 for 4 shooting inside, but it looks like he’s being asked to anchor the defense more than be a major factor in the post. Jahvon Quinerly and Cole Swider both had off shooting nights again, combining for 3 points on 1 for 11 shooting. The good news is that I think it’s just a matter of getting minutes and their shots will start to fall. The bad news is they’re not getting the minutes, combining for just 27. Dylan Painter and Brandon Slater seem to be at the back end of the rotation right now, but they each scored off offensive rebounds. That’s the kind of effort that earns you more minutes on this team.
Defense: Game - 38.3%, Season - 44.9%, Last Year - 48.5%
What a difference a few days and a completely different team can make! The defense was much improved against Quinnipiac, although some of that needs to be credited to poor shooting by the Bobcats. Still, there were fewer mistakes and some better positioning that tells you their learning from game experience.
We’ll get to rebounds and turnovers later, but suffice it to say Nova had themselves a block party in South Philly last night. Cosby-Roundtree led the way with three of his own, and Saddiq Bey had two on the night. Booth, Samuels, and Painter all got in on the fun as the Wildcats took advantage of their size and athletic superiority over their opponents.
All that said, defense continues to be Villanova’s biggest weakness. There are still issues with spacing, transition, and team chemistry that need to be ironed out. But progress is being made, and at this point that’s all we can ask for.
Turnover Percentage (TO%) - Villanova wins by 3%
Offense: Game - 16.4%, Season - 17.3%, Last Year - 15.0%
Villanova saw some improvement in their turnover numbers, dropping down to eleven overall. In fact, take out some of the offensive fouls and the number of live ball turnovers was in the single digits.
But unfortunately you can’t just take away the offensive fouls, and two of them knocked Paschall out of the first half. Sure, one was questionable, but the other was called as Nova’s star forward simply plowed over a guy. Paschall is going to have to watch extending his arm when he drives the basket, something he was called twice for in last night’s game. I’m convinced that foul trouble is the only way to slow him down at this point, so other teams are going to try to draw fouls whenever they can.
The other player guilty of multiple turnovers was Jahvon Quinerly. But honestly I wasn’t as concerned about these. In fact, one of the most frustrating parts of watching last night’s offense was the amount of times players were getting the ball and just stopping. Not moving the ball, not moving their feet, just killing the flow of the offense. At least on these turnovers, Quinerly was moving with the ball and trying to make something happen. His control and decision making will improve as he learns what will and won’t work at this level. I hope he keeps up the movement... except for that pass off Paschall’s face... no more of that please.
Defense: Game - 19.4%, Season - 17.9%, Last Year - 18.2%
It wasn’t by a big margin, but Villanova did win the turnover battle in this one. The Cats still need to work on ball pressure overall, but two of their leaders are already getting the job done. Phil Booth again proved he may be the best pound for pound defender on the squad, coming away with two steals and doing a great job blanketing opponents. Collin Gillespie may still lack the lateral quickness to always stay in front of his man, but he makes up for it with by outworking his opponent. He also came up with two steals on the night.
There’s still good and bad with this team on defense. Right now they’re doing a good job of helping in the lane and clogging the paint to alter shots, which can lead to turnovers. But the perimeter defense is where the Cats are getting beat right now. Instead of ball pressure leading to turnovers, sloppy execution is leading to open lanes and open shots. Against teams like Morgan State and Quinnipiac that struggle to shoot from deep, that won’t hurt you so much. But eventually they’ll face some strong shooters, or at least someone will get hot. That will be the real test for these young Wildcats.
Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OR%) - Villanova wins by 26.3%
Offense: Game - 51.3%, Season - 48.0%, Last Year - 29.6%
To say that Villanova crushed Quinnipiac on the boards would be an understatement. The Wildcats out-rebounded their opponents by 21. But nothing is as impressive as the fact that Villanova had more offensive rebounds (20) than the Bobcats had defensive rebounds (19). In otherwords, when Villanova missed a shot they were more likely to come up with the ball than their opponent.
Ok, that’s a little misleading. A number of Nova’s offensive rebounds came on a pair of late possessions in the final minutes when the game was all but won. That’s why Brandon Slater led the team with 4 and Dylan Painter added 2 more. But that doesn’t mean Nova wasn’t controlling the boards from start to finish. In total, six different Wildcats had multiple offensive rebounds, a testament to this team’s length and aggressive rebounding. While their current season rate of 48% (ranked 7th nationally) is unsustainable for the long hall, rebounding is going to be a strength for this team.
Defense: Game - 25.0%, Season - 25.3%, Last Year - 27.1%
Despite playing just 20 minutes and sitting for most of the second half, Eric Paschall still led the team in total rebounds (8) and defensive rebounds (5). This is the second straight game he’s led the team in both categories, and I don’t see that changing this season. No one else is going to get the same number of minutes and opportunities that Paschall gets, but that isn’t to say no one else has the skills on the glass he does.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that Jermaine Samuels and Saddiq Bey are going to be important pieces to this team’s defense. Right now it looks like they’ll be the co-6th man off the bench, similar to how Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth would be the first two off the bench during the 2016 Championship season. Last night Samuels had 7 rebounds and Bey had 6, good for 2nd and 3rd best on the team. They also both finished top five in minutes for last nights game. That’s just further proof that under Jay Wright, rebounding and defense will keep you on the court.
Free Throw Rate (FTRate) - Quinnipiac wins by 5%
Offense: Game - 23.5%, Season - 31.9%, Last Year - 29.4%
This is one of the unfortunate consequences of Villanova’s volume three-point shooting offense. The more threes you take, the less likely you are to earn trips to the line. On the season, Villanova is taking over 51% of their shots from behind the arc. The national average is just over 39%. It’s not a bad thing when you have the caliber of shooters that Nova does, Villanova has KenPom’s 4th most efficient offense in the counrty. It just means your points won’t be coming from the line.
But there is one guy that continues to find his way to the stripe for Nova, and that’s Eric Paschall. On the season, he has a FTRate of 100%. That means he’s taken as many shots from the floor as he has from the charity stripe. On those attempts he’s shooting 82.4%, making him deadly from all three of the most efficient scoring areas on the court.
Phil Booth remains the teams best free throw shooter, still perfect on the season after going 6 for 6 last night. But his smaller frame and more finesse offensive game doesn’t lead to as many opportunities as a bruiser like Paschall. Bey has had the next most opportunities on the team with a FTRate of 50%, but he’s just 4 for 6 on the season.
Defense: Game - 28.5%, Season - 20.5%, Last Year - 26.7%
One of the staples of a Jay Wright team has been tough defense without fouling. While the team still has some holes defensively, they’ve done a fairly good job of keeping opponents off the free throw line (32nd in FTRate nationally). That said, some of the new guys are still learning how to keep their hands to themselves.
Cole Swider, had a rough night. While he had a handful or rebounds and assists in 11 minutes, he also fouled out of the game. He was having difficulty staying with his man on the perimeter and took some sloppy fouls in the paint as well. While he learn with time how to avoid some of these fouls, it hurts him in the meantime because he could have been on the floor for another five minutes. That game experience is crucial in his early development, especially as he tries to find his shot early on. Although that part I’m not worried about. When a guy is constantly missing long, it’s just a matter of time before he finds his range.
Looking Ahead: Michigan Wolverines (Villanova is 77% favorites, 75-67)
Offensive Projections: eFG% - Mich, TO% - Mich, OR% - Nova, FTRate - Mich
This is going to be strength vs strength as Villanova’s high scoring offense is matched up with Michigan’s shutdown defense. The Wolverines are holding teams to just 33.8% effective field goal percentage. They’ve been trying to win with efficiency by playing at one of the 20 slowest paces in the country through two games. That said, they’ve played against two teams outside KenPom’s Top 200. Villanova is Top 10.
For the Wildcats, controlling the tempo can be a huge advantage for them. Michigan can’t run and gun with the Wildcats, and if they step on the gas this one will be over quick. Nova’s length should also lead to second chance points on the offensive glass, and the home court advantage doesn’t hurt either.
Defensive Projections: eFG% - Nova, TO% - Mich, OR% - Nova, FTRate - Nova
Michigan has not been able to buy a basket this season, ranking 284th in eFG% and shooting a dismal 20% from behind the arc. While the Wildcats defense is still a work in progress, Michigan plays into all of its strengths. With Michigan only having one player shooting over 30% from deep right now, they’ll be forced to drive inside to Nova’s long, athletic shot blockers.
And when the Wolverines do miss a basket, Nova should again have the advantage on the boards. Even if the Wildcats get into some foul trouble, Michigan is only shooting 60% on their free throws. If Villanova can create some turnovers as well, then they’re going to dominate the Wolverines.