Deeper Dive: 'Nova Beats UCF

Broc Libra shares his analysis of the Villanova win over UCF last night ...

Villanova vs. Central Florida 11/21/2016

In the championship game of the Gildan Charleston Classic, Villanova had a tough shooting night, but played tremendous defense in route to a 67-57 win over the Central Florida Knights. 

Reporting from Charleston, SC, here are 5 takeaways from the game

  • Do we have a new back-up PG– We know that Phil Booth has been hurt, but maybe he’s just better at the 2 than at the 1. Granted, Jay Wright will use multiple players in bringing the ball up and initiating the offense, but Donte has filled in very well for Phil in the last two games as the back-up PG with no turnovers in just over 13 minutes in the two games playing minutes at the 1. In his 40 minutes of play without Phil, he had 25 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a nasty block. Neither Phil nor Donte are true PG’s and more are bucket getters, so I’d look for Phil and Donte to play more minutes together and share ball handling responsibilities. 
  • Man press or zone press? – Most teams are very confused when we press because sometimes we utilize the 1-2-1-1 zone press and other times, it’s a token man press.  Other times, it’s a run and jump in the full court going for the steal, which is a new wrinkle. Lastly, when we play the 2-3 zone, the two players up top will token press to slow the ball up.  Either way, we disguise the man press so well that it looks like a zone press and teams will pass the ball back and forth, which is the best way to beat a zone press, but dribbling the ball is the best way to beat a man press. Teams see Mikal Bridges up top and immediately think it’s a zone press. Speaking of Mikal…
  • Mikal Bridges can really guard opposing PG’s – As opposed to the zone press when we scramble while finding a man, the zone press allows Mikal to guard the opposing PG. His victim this game was BJ Taylor, who had a nice game, but shot 6-17 (for 13 points) and had 5 assists and 4 turnovers, including one steal with Mikal picked him clean for a breakaway dunk to go up 58-41. Playing the PG also allows Mikal not to have to box out and use his athleticism and length to jump up and grab rebounds, while guys like Reynolds and Paschall do the dirty work and box out. 
  • Slower pace than last year – This is interesting since I thought we were actually playing faster, but it just seems like that.  Through 5 games, Villanova is averaging around 67 possessions per game, which puts the ‘Cats at the 328th slowest team in the country. Top teams around Villanova include notable slow teams like Virginia and Wisconsin and while Virginia scores a lot from 2 (19th most in the country) both Wisconsin and Villanova shoot the 3 as Villanova has more points coming from 3 point land, but take less shots from 3. 
  • Again, it’s all about the Defense – Some interesting numbers: Defensively, opponents are taking 39% of their shots from 3 against Villanova, though opponents are only shooting 27%. Since opponents are shooting a lot of 3’s against Villanova, 28% of opponent’s total points are via the 3 pointer. 2 point defense is a bit of a struggle right now, but note that the ‘Cats did play teams with strong low post games including Purdue and UCF. Meanwhile, teams like Wake Forest shot an incredible 9-16 from 12-20 feet so while the 2 point defense isn’t great, expectations are that it will regress back down. 

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