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Deeper Dive: Villanova Defeats Purdue

Let's take a deeper look at how Villanova defeated Purdue and the implications moving forward ...

Villanova vs. Purdue 11/14/2016

In a hard fought battle, Villanova went into Mackey Arena against a top 15 team in the Gavitt Games and came out with a 79-76 win. An impressive performance by both teams, this game had everything you could have wanted in a NCAA tournament game, let alone a game in the middle of November.  

For this series, I’ll be taking a little bit more of an in-depth look into the game, dig into some stats and share some initial thoughts I had. I will add some shot charts when they become available.. 

  1. The return of take ‘em? – Well, not really, but one of two things have happened: good teams may have adjusted to Villanova’s offense by not allowing the fast ball reversal, or Coach Wright wants to keep the ball close to the hoop by “posting up” by the 3 point line to ensure that players catch the ball in a position to be able to shoot. Either way, ball movement was less crisp than it has been and over the last 3 games and while two of those games were against top 15 teams, Villanova has 33 assists and 29 turnovers. Villanova is also 3-0 in those games and while it’s not a trend just yet, it’s something to watch moving forward. It could also be that Coach Wright is adjusting to his personnel as the team has better “downhill” players on the roster. 
  2. An 8 man bench – Seems pretty obvious, but it seems as though equal minutes will go to the starters and Bridges/Paschall and DiVincenzo will take the remaining minutes. Donte will likely play in every game, but it’ll be in the 5-15 minute range. 
  3. Darryl Reynolds is a beast – What a game from the senior big man. Not only was he shorter by 2-6 inches, but more importantly, if you believe that he’s 225, he was undersized by 35-75 pounds depending on if he was guarding Swanigan or Haas. Darryl not only held his own against two of the better bigs in the country, but from total rebounds grabbed by both teams (not including team rebounds) he gathered almost 15% of them.  As an aside, it was a pretty spectacular rebounding effort overall, and while no one besides Reynolds had more than 4, if you played double digit minutes, you grabbed at least 3 rebounds. 
  4. Pressing to force a turnover – While a small sample size of 2 games, plus the fact that both teams weren’t known for their ball handling, it seems as though the Wildcats were pressing to force a turnover, instead of token pressure to force teams to get into their offense with only 20 seconds on the shot clock. @BBallbreakdown has wondered why some NBA teams don’t use this token pressure with deeper benches, a shorter amount of time to get the ball across the time line and a shorter shot clock. But so far, the Wildcats have forced 28 turnovers and have gotten 15 steals; while not all of them come from the press, more have than usual.
  5. Villanova won’t see a team like Purdue for the rest of the year, unless they meet the Boilermakers in the tournament – no team has the size, strength, skill and experience that the Boilermakers do. Including Vince Edwards and Basil Smotherman who are both long, athletic forwards, Purdue has 4 guys that likely could get minutes at the 5 if they were on Villanova. (Then again, Smotherman did play some 5 last night)  But Haas & Swanigan was reminding people of how bigs like Omar Samhan, Randolph Morris and Davante Gardner used their big, strong bodies to muscle their way into big nights against the less strong Wildcats.  But looking ahead, Villanova has very few opponents that have a similar team to Purdue from a big standpoint. While many teams have good bigs with some low post skills (Georgetown, Virginia, Seton Hall) and all 3 of them have better guard play, no one has Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph <ahem> I mean Issac Haas and Caleb Swanigan in the post. 

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