Monday, March 31, 2014

Here it is: The yearly Villanova highlight video


By the indispensable Sean Donovan.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A record that is still unbroken


Four teams left, three teams from the Big East. The current Big East. The one that isn't dead.

Today in Villanova history: Villanova wins National Semifinal


Two years later, this game would become infamous for being the game that Gary McLain alleged that he was high on cocaine during.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wishing Ryan Arcidiacono a Happy 20th Birthday

 
On this blog, we nicknamed him hubris, posted missing posters of him, but it's important to note that we love Ryan Arcidiacono, because he embodies the "Shoot 'em up, sleep in the streets" mentality of a Jay Wright team. Also, he's a very good basketball player.

AMAZING Requiem For The Big East parody


Amazing. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

If anything, Villanova should have shot more threes against UConn

Darrun Hilliard: Really good outside shooter
 
People who subscribe to conventional wisdom have been complaining since the UConn game that Villanova shot too many threes, and that is part of the reason that they lost the game and were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. If you hear one of your friends parrot the narrative that Villanova "settled" for threes, you promptly should slap them across the face, or at least politely explain to them why they're wrong if you're not a fan of wanton violence.

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?
  1. Team A: Shoots 40 percent from three point range and and takes no two point shots or free throws.
  2. Team B: Shoots 60% from two point range and takes no three point shots or free throws.
In case you were dropped on your head, or didn't pay attention in first grade math class, both Team A and Team B would score the exact same number of points. This highlights why simply citing a team's "shooting percentage" as an indicator of a player or team's overall performance is dumb, because everyone knows that (since 1986) there are two different types of shot in college basketball. Using this Villanova team as an example, JayVaughn Pinkston shot 52.1 percent cumulatively compared to Darrun Hilliard's 48.6, but scored fewer points per shot, partially because because of the difference in value between twos and threes, and partially because Hilliard both shot and converted threes at a greater rate than Pinkston.

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

Eight years ago tonight: Randy Foye's finest hour


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

Continuing an unfortunately annual tradition


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.

Friday, March 21, 2014

GIF: Daniel Ochefu's finest hour


Turnover into blocked shot. Brilliant.

Villanova post-Milwaukee interviews


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.

Villanova beats Milwaukee by 20?


Any NCAA tournament win is occasion to party

More on this tomorrow.

NCAA Tournament wins since the 2004-2005 season:
Jay Wright: 13
Phil Martelli: Zero

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Four marks that Villanova needs to hit to win a National Championship

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.

40

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. 

75

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%.

10

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.

12

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

Villanova's Selection Sunday reaction


Currently working on a piece about what it might take for Villanova to win an unlikely National Championship.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Requiem For The Big East-- A dressed up ESPN propaganda piece



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.

Jay Wright Dove soap commercial


Surprising it took this long for Jay to be featured in some sort of cosmetic/clothing commercial.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Villanova's opening round matchup

 
Villanova is a two seed in the East Region, playing against Milwaukee.

If they win, they will play the winner of UConn and St. Joseph's (PA).

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Emily Lipari-- NCAA Champion


Previously, Emily Lipari was best known for her Herculean effort at the 2014 Penn Relays, anchoring two winning relays including the massive underdog 4x800 relay, when she walked down a girl from Oregon with far superior speed to win and set a collegiate record.

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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Addressing the emerging anti-Villanova narratives

 Sad face

Today's loss stung quite a bit, mostly because the team fought all the way back from being down by double digits fairly deep into the second half and nearly won, only to be shocked on a buzzer beating fadeaway jumper, one of the lower percentage shots on the entire court. The fact that Villanova lost to to Seton Hall, an inferior team that they had beaten twice this season by a combined 33 points is something we'll just have to live with. After the game, the reaction on twitter was largely predictable, with people overreacting to a single weird result rather than rather than judging a 28-4 team on its merits.

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

Five years ago today


One of the most thrilling moments in Villanova's Big East Tournament history. Best conference tournament in America.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The understated brilliance of Darrun Hilliard


When I saw the all-Big East teams that were released today, I was peeved to see that Darrun Hilliard, who has arguably been the most consistently productive offensive player in the Big East who isn't named Doug McDermott was only "honorable mention" on the teams listed. Sure, he was "honored", but it's a bit of a backhanded one for a player who has been consistently scoring 12-20 points in just about every Big East game.

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

Villanova: Philadelphia's pro team?


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

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Villanova's NCAA Indoor qualifiers

Sam Ellison
 
After sending a maximum of three (plus a relay for both men and women) at recent NCAA Indoor Championship meets, Villanova will send seven individuals and two relay teams to the NCAA meet, which will be held next weekend, starting on the 14th.

Here's Villanova's individual qualifiers:

Men:

800 Meters-
Sam Ellison

Mile-
Jordy Williamsz*

5000m
Patrick Tiernan*

Distance Medley Relay

Women:

800m
Kelsey Margey*
Nicky Akande*

Mile
Emily Lipari
Stephanie Schappert*

Distance Medley Relay

*Denotes athletes making their first individual appearance at the NCAA meet.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Re-enactment of Syracuse's last five games


Another thing, with Georgetown beating Creighton, Villanova needs only one (!!!!) win to clinch an outright Big East regular season title.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Underdogs


The most positive side effect of Villanova's two losses to Creighton is that they have stalled significant winning streaks and made it so the team has never had a winning streak of more than six games in Big East regular season play, thus slowing any  significant buzz the team would have collected if they had streaks of ten or more games. It is those losses that allow idiots like Doug Gottlieb to say that Villanova is a "matchup team" should be a four seed despite the fact that an objective eye would say that they are substantially better than that. Yesterday during Villanova's game, Dana O'Neil observed that Villanova has substantially less buzz surrounding them than any very good team in quite some time.

And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

Highlights of Villanova's win over Marquette


If Villanova wins its next two games, they can lock up their first outright conference regular season title since Tim Thomas was on the team.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Darrun Hilliard leads Villanova to #businesslike win over Marquette


 James Bell took three total shots and scored zero points, but it didn't matter. It didn't matter because Darrun Hilliard scored a career high 26 points on 7-11 shooting including 5-8 from three point range and Villanova easily dispatched of Marquette, who usually give them  an unnecessarily difficult game and ended Buzz Williams' team's already slim chances at an NCAA Tournament berth. To go along with his outpouring of points, Hilliard had four assists to only one turnover, and zero personal fouls in a game where there were many. Coming in second on the team in scoring was Josh Hart, who scored 13 points and looks as if he is catching a second wind in the last few games after going through a bit of a slump in the middle of the Big East season, and third was JayVaughn Pinkston, who wrapped up the double figure scorers with 11 points while leading the team with seven rebounds.

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. 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Villanova is in the driver's seat


After Creighton's loss tonight, Villanova controls its own destiny for an outright Big East regular season championship.