Villanova vs. Notre Dame 12/10/2016
In the first game of the Never Forget Tribute Classic, Villanova (10-0) earned an impressive win over previously unbeaten #21 Notre Dame, 74-66. In the first half and about the first 8 minutes of the second half, Notre Dame was making tough shots, getting to the rim and playing solid D. During the last 12 minutes, however, Villanova completely took over. The score was 50-41 ND, with 12:46 remaining and Villanova outscored the Irish 33-16 in those final 12 minutes to win a very exciting, well played, and well coached game by both teams.
Here are 5 takeaways from the game
- Josh Hart’s coming out party – Most people who pay attention to basketball knew of Josh Hart, but after his performance on Saturday, everyone knows about him now. Not only did Hart have an ORtg of 191, but he had a team best DRtg of 102, in 37 minutes of action. Josh’s ORtg of 138.2 is 28th best in the nation and he’s the only guy in the top 30 who has a usage rate of over 24%, which means he not only projects these numbers based on usage and per 40 minute outputs, but he actually puts up those numbers when playing. The next guy ranked who has a higher usage rate than Josh Hart, is Rob Gray, who has an ORtg of 133.7 and is ranked 49th in the country. Josh Hart = STUD
- Villanova shot poorly this game, but how much of that was Notre Dame’s defense – Now, that doesn’t mean they didn’t execute offensively, but if they shot the ball from outside of the paint, Villanova was 5-21 (4-16 from 3, 1-5 from mid-range). While Jay doesn’t encourage his team taking shots outside of the paint that aren’t 3’s, the ‘Cats do have two of the better mid-range players in Hart and Brunson. Now, that doesn’t mean the ‘Cats didn’t execute as the game plan against us was to run us off the 3 point line and force us to shoot a jumper, but that didn’t happen as the cats were 12-16 within 3 feet of the rim, a very good rate.
- The doldrums before conference play – Last year, Villanova had a relatively uninspired 7 game stretch (Akron, Stanford, Georgia Tech, St. Joes, Oklahoma, LaSalle and Virginia) 2 of those games were losses, though the Virginia game was closer than the score appeared. 3 of those games didn’t provide a bunch of confidence (Akron, Stanford, Georgia Tech) and the game at St. Joes was a 6 point game with 10 minutes left. I’m not saying Villanova isn’t trying or competing, but just like last year, the team is still trying to figure out who they are, even for the #1 team in the nation. 3 games in two weeks, starting with Temple, then American, then DePaul, all at home, will help refocus and rest up for the big one @ Creighton on New Year’s Eve.
- This is the game Eric Paschall can not only play well, but come close to starring – Eric Paschall is a very good player. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to go from a star, even on a bad team, to a piece on a very good team, but he’s handling it like a pro. That being said, we can’t expect an amazing box score from Paschall every game, though he usually brings very good effort. He’s had a couple of rough games, but he filled his stats with a perfect 4/4 from the field, 3 rebounds, 1 super athletic block and only 1 turnover in 20 minutes of play, including a lot of crunch time minutes at the 4 & 5. Those minutes were well deserved as Eric had the 3rd best ORtg and DRtg in the game, behind Josh Hart and Darryl Reynolds.
- Playing better against teams who are like us – For a long time, the total misconception was that Villanova struggled against teams who had massive bigs. Time and time again, Villanova proved that they could not only guard teams who had bigs, but stifle them, including games against UConn, Syracuse, Florida, UNC, Miami, Kansas, Virginia and Georgetown. Sure, a few games the bigs prevailed, but 9 times out of 10, it was some guard getting massive penetration and dumping the ball to the bigs (Sherron Collins, Cat Barber, Jon Wallace, Corey Brewer/Taurean Green, Kemba Walker/Shabbaz Napier, etc) but we’ve been playing better against smaller, quicker guards. Enter Matt Farrell, who isn’t super quick, but he’s deceptively fast and got around our perimeter defenders at will. However, once Villanova figured out how to guard him, the ball stopped moving and the 3’s stopped falling. Also, ND’s two best players (Beachem/Colson) went a combined 15 points and 13 rebounds on 7/23 shooting. That’s pretty darn good.