Deeper Dive: 'Nova Defeats La Salle

VUSports takes a further look inside Villanova's victory over La Salle last night ...

Villanova vs. LaSalle 12/6/2016

Villanova went to 9-0 (3-0 Big 5) with a hard fought 89-79 win over upstart LaSalle. The game featured two teams with similar type of players and similar offenses (4 out 1 in) and a lot of guards running around. LaSalle went small and played some of their best basketball in matching up players who couldn’t guard quick perimeter players as Villanova was keying on Jordan Price, who came in averaging 18 a game and held him to 9 points. Both teams played well, but Villanova emerged in the end with timely plays, great hustle, and perhaps a slightly better whistle. 

Here are 5 takeaways from the game

  1. If you played, you had at least one assist – While no one had more than 3 assists, everyone had at least 1 assist. That screams unselfishness as the team moved the ball well. Put those 15 assists with only 6 turnovers and while the shots weren’t falling, which would have likely upped the assist total, Villanova will win quite a few games when they turn the ball over less than 8 times a game
  2. Big 5 play brings the best out of Jalen Brunson – By far the player of the game was Jalen Brunson, who made great decisions, hit timely jumpers, remained calm when put in pressure situations, hit all of his FT’s and took what the defense gave him. Jalen had an ORtg of 151 and a DRtg of 117 and zero turnovers. 
  3. Did a good job from 3 – While LaSalle went 8 for 21 from 3, their dangerous shooters (Johnson, Price and Roberts) went a combined 3 for 10.  Pookie Powell and Johnnie Shuler, who came into the game a combined 6 of 28, when a combined 5 for 9, including a bank 3. Sometimes your game plan works in theory but doesn’t work in practice. Villanova got the right guys to shoot the 3, they just made them at an abnormal rate. 
  4. LaSalle defends like Georgetown – That means is that they foul quite a bit. After this game, LaSalle has fouled people 148 times in 7 games, which is good enough for 220th place. Meanwhile, Villanova has fouled 136 times in 9 games. Some of those fouls are the result of game circumstance but LaSalle has 4 guys who average at least 3 fouls a game while the highest average on Villanova’s team is 2.6. At least 3 of those 4 guys had 3 fouls last night. If the Explorers want to improve on allowing 80.4 points a game (310th best in NCAA) they’ll need to stop fouling. While they play at a faster pace, there’s no excuse giving up 78 to Drexel, 81 to Lehigh or 97 to Temple. While the whistle was slightly in Villanova’s favor last night, that doesn’t excuse from the sheer number of fouls the Explorers have committed. 
  5. #2 –The win last night, coupled with Duke’s win over Florida, have flip-flopped the teams in Kenpom’s standings. Villanova currently has the nation’s #2 Adjusted Offense (behind Duke) and the #13 Adjusted Defense. Villanova has played the 78th toughest schedule so far and that’ll only become tougher next week when Villanova plays Notre Dame (in NJ) who is #25 in Kenpom and home vs. Temple, who is #83. Notre Dame is another team similar to LaSalle in that they shoot the 3 well (LaSalle is 12th in the nation, Notre Dame is 13th, Villanova is 22nd) and both teams shoot a lot of 3’s. The main difference is that ND has Bonzie Colson, who can definitely score in the post at 6 ft 5 and can clean the glass. The rest of their guys either shoot the ball very well or can get to the rim. I expect a similar game play where you must play 1 on 1 D because you’ll have limited help. Also, if the game becomes a FT shooting contest, it’s game over, as ND has 3 guys who shoot 92% or better, including Vasturia who is 30/31 and Farrell who is 24/24. This game will be a fantastic measuring stick and playing LaSalle was a great warm-up due to their similarities. 

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