By the indispensable Sean Donovan.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Two years later, this game would become infamous for being the game that Gary McLain alleged that he was high on cocaine during.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Darrun Hilliard: Really good outside shooter
To say that a team "settled" for threes is to imply that there is less value or merit in shooting them than their is in shooting twos. Of course, anyone with half a brain should know that this is absolutely not the case.
Let's try an exercise: Out of these two hypothetical teams, which scores more points?
- Team A: Shoots 40 percent from three point range and and takes no two point shots or free throws.
- Team B: Shoots 60% from two point range and takes no three point shots or free throws.
Anyone suggesting that Villanova should have taken more twos in the UConn game didn't pay much attention, since Villanova's three point percentage of 35.5 for the game was higher than both its cumulative field goal percentage of 35.3, and its two point percentage of 35.0. So in other words, Villanova shot better than average from the outside against UConn and absolutely putridly, and if they had taken fewer threes and more twos than they did, it's very likely that the final margin between the two teams would have been greater than 12 points.
Now this is not to say that every player should have license to chuck up threes, in fact, some players should rarely or never take threes. JayVaughn Pinkston and his seasonal three point percentage of 25.8 is a prime example of a player who should not take threes, especially when the fact that he made 55.1 percent of his twos, and that he tends to draw fouls when he goes to the rim are considered.
So no, Villanova did not "settle" for threes.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Randy Foye had 29 points in that game, including 11 straight from the end of the second half to the beginning of Overtime.
The link to the full game is here
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Every year when Villanova is eliminated, the Villagnome is killed, only to be revived when a new season begins. Here is the annual gnome stomp.
Let's hope that 2015 is the year that the Gnome finally lives.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
Fatigued from writing too many words this week. May or may not write something tomorrow about how UConn is a horrible place that never graduates any of its players.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Stranger things have happened
The chances that Villanova will win their second NCAA title are fairly small, but they are more realistic than they have been in recent NCAA Tournaments, and about as good as good as their chances were in 2009. Now, for any team to win, they have to play well, because a single poor game means that a team could very likely be eliminated. Villanova has been fortunate enough to have pretty good luck for most of this season, but they would need to have a six game run at their very best form in order to win it all, while hoping that a few opponents do not, which is a tall task. Since there are more than 50 teams in the field that Villanova is objectively better than, Villanova does not need to be perfect for the early rounds of the tournament to advance, but their opponents will all be good enough that they cannot afford to be too far away from par in matchups beyond the first round.
Here are some numbers that Villanova is required to better in order to win a national championship.
During the Big East regular season, when Villanova won 16 games and lost only two, the Wildcats shot 39% from three point range, and in games where they shot better than that from the perimeter, they lost only once, which was the second Creighton game. Not every team in the tournament is as gifted offensively as Creighton, especially from the outside, so I am pretty confident that the 'Cats should be able to handle most teams if they shoot around 40% from the perimeter.
Another way that 40 is significant is that it's is the number that Villanova must hold its opponents under from outside. Villanova is 20-0 in games this season where their opponent has shot below 40% from three, and only 8-4 when their opponent shoots better than that.
Only one of Villanova's losses came when they shot better than 75% from the line, and in their two non-Creighton losses, they shot a combined 29-47 from the line, which is less than 62%.
Villanova has grabbed more than ten offensive rebounds in a game on 11 occasions this season, and in those games, they are undefeated. Offensive rebounding is one of the most overlooked facets of the game, and while Villanova is simply an okay offensive rebounding team, to win, they must be exceptional.
In the 20 games that Villanova has forced 12 or more turnovers, they are undefeated.
Like I said early in the post, it is quite improbable for Villanova to do all of these things over a six game stretch, but to win a championship, they will have to.
I'm ready for the tournament to start already. Let's Go 'Cats! Beat the field!
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Monday, March 17, 2014
I found ESPN's Ezra Edelman directed 30 For 30 documentary Requiem For The Big East to be entertaining, emotionally stirring, and ultimately empty. Not empty because of the loss of the old Big East, or because of the betrayal of Villanova's partner schools, but empty because it was intellectually dishonest and had an obvious conflict of interest, which ultimately made me view it as a transparent piece of propaganda released by ESPN to downplay the Worldwide Leader's complicity in the downfall of the Big East, instead saying that an "invisible hand" (capitalism) was ultimately responsible for the destruction destruction of the conference.
Well, if there was an invisible hand, it was ESPN, which was pretty clearly eager to get its mythical "super conferences" as early as 2003, and once Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College left the conference, Bristol had no investment in the Big East anymore, because the football was not up to their standards. So while the documentary presented football as the force that led to the fissure of the Big East, in reality, there is at least a prima facie case that ESPN itself was leading the charge for further conference realignment behind closed doors.
Then there was the entire marketing campaign around the documentary, which went out of its way to proclaim that the Big East is dead now, and by the time it was ripped apart, it was already dead to begin with. Nevermind the fact that the level of basketball being played in the Big East in the last decade is arguably higher than it had ever been. Just because the conference added some schools and Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullen weren't suiting up for teams in the conference does not mean that the level of basketball being played was not exceptional, because it was, and the addition of the schools like Louisville, Marquette, and Cincinnati only raised the level of competition in the league. Was it an all Northeastern league? No, but it was still somewhat regional, and it still provided great basketball, and after watching the first season of Big East basketball following the breakup of the old conference, I am pretty convinced that this league can be sustainably excellent as long as the current successful coaches stay in place.
So ultimately, Requiem For The Big East was ultimately like watching a film by Charles Manson praising Sharon Tate's beauty and acting ability.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Tonight at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, Lipari won her first career NCAA individual title, and the third won by a Villanova woman. The other two were won by Olympians Vicki Huber and Carmen Douma, pretty elite company.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Yes, Villanova was slightly overrated in the most recent poll according to the most objective measure of a team's true ability, but they weren't so overrated that their ranking was an outlier.
Now is the time to set straight some narratives that emerged in the aftermath of the game, both from the Villanova fans and from the haters from places like SJU (PA).
Narrative one: "to live and die by the trey"
Yes, Villanova missed a lot of three pointers in today's game, including 12 of their first 13 attempts. According to some people, The 'Cats should have just stopped shooting them at that point. If they had stopped shooting threes at that point, they likely would have lost by even more points, as they positively regressed and made three of their final six attempts from beyond the arc. This game was lost due to shitty luck at the free throw line, with JayVaughn Pinkston, a player who goes to the free throw line a ton and was making 77.8% of his attempts headed into today's game going a miserable three for ten, and the team, who shot 71.6% for the regular season going 12-20 for the game. This bad luck was kind of expected, as the team was ninth headed into the game in the luck rankings, and they regressed negatively. Seton Hall was in the 300s and regressed positively.
Narrative two: "IT'S A TRAP!"
Research throughout various sports has shown that "trap games" are figments of imagination. This game was not a trap game, it was simply a case where a team that was previously extremely lucky was unlucky and a team that was previously extremely unlucky happened to be lucky.
Narrative three: "Nova sux lol"
The 'Cats have been a top 15 team all season in just about every measure aside from the top 25 polls, and that was only because they were unranked in the preseason. Before today, they had not lost a single game against a team that isn't currently ranked in the top 15 of the KenPom rankings. This was a matter of luck, as Villanova had gone 10-0 before today in games decided by less than ten points, which is unsustainable.
Narrative four: "It's JayVaughn Pinkston's fault"
This shouldn't even need to be addressed, because without JVP, this team would have ten fewer wins, and they played like absolute shit for the first half of the game. Did JVP miss some crucial free throws that hurt the team? Yes, he did, but let's not act like Villanova losing had more to do with that than it did with James Bell making none of his eight field goal attempts, Ryan Arcidiacono going one for five from three point range, or the fact that the team played like zombies for nearly the entire first half.
Villanova likely won't be a one seed, and while that's a bit of a bummer, I can live with it, because they're a lock to go to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in ten seasons, and they're probably going to be a two seed. People need to remember that what happens in the weeks to come is much more important than what happens in this week. This is Villanova's first bad loss of the season, and it happened when the opposing team played its best and The 'Cats played unusually poorly. At this point, I'm pretty confident that this is an abberation.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Unfortunately, Darrun was snubbed for the honor for precisely the reason that I cited for him to deserve the honor, and that is that he's so consistently good, but isn't flashy. The understated nature of his game is part of the reason that I love Darrun as a player. He wasn't a highly touted recruit, but he is on pace to score more than 1,000 points in only three seasons, and his offensive role only figures to grow next season. He is criminally underrated and is on a trajectory that looks like it could peak on an NBA roster 18 months from now.
Enjoy the ride, and thanks for an incredible season that hasn't yet ended, Darrun.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Since Dec. 5, Villanova has more wins at the Wells-Fargo Center than the Sixers. Villanova is 3-1, and the Sixers are 2-18.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) March 8, 2014
Another reason the NBA sucks. Teams like the 76ers can coast in the hopes of getting the best draft pick. Thank god for the lottery.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Here's Villanova's individual qualifiers:
Distance Medley Relay
Distance Medley Relay
*Denotes athletes making their first individual appearance at the NCAA meet.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Monday, March 3, 2014
And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Villanova's next game is at Xavier on Thursday, and it is their most significant hurdle in the way of their quest for their first outright Big East regular season title since 1997.