ETown's Breakdown: at Marquette

Five key take-aways from Villanova's Tuesday night loss at Marquette ...

Villanova vs. Marquette 1/24/2017

A tough game in Milwaukee with some cold shooting and a strong 37 minute performance led to a 74-72 loss to a hot Marquette team. The lack of putting teams away has now occurred in 4 of the last 6 games as Villanova has built up a big lead, only to see parts of it disappear. I stated this as a concern in just the last game against Providence and this time, it came back to bite the ‘Cats. The main silver lining to this loss is that now that the lack of finishing the job has ended up in a loss, the lack of urgency will hopefully not happen again. 

Here are my 5 takeaways

1. Jalen Brunson is so heady– The obvious play is to talk about how he didn’t touch the ball, which led to the score keeper starting the clock and getting a free timeout out of it, though he was just trying to keep the clock stopped as long as possible and faking out the opponent. However, the play I want to talk about is at the end of the first half.  Marquette scored with 35 seconds left and Jenkins passed the ball to Brunson. Normally, the team’s PG would catch the ball and have 33 seconds on the game clock, 30 seconds on the shot clock and run down the shot clock and take a shot with about 4 seconds on the shot clock & 7 seconds on the game clock. Brunson, however, let the ball bounce in front of him. While the game clock was still running, the shot clock does not start until Jalen picks up the ball. Jalen picked up the ball with 29 seconds left in the game, to ensure that we get the last shot of the half.  A minor play, but extremely heady and smart.   

2. Did the 1-3-1 stun the ‘Cats? – In a word, yes. Villanova definitely settled for way too many 3’s, even though a large majority of them were wide open. Sometimes the shots just don’t go down. However, the offense seemed very stagnant and the ‘Cats very rarely attacked the 1-3-1 from the side. When they did, they scored.  I would have also liked to see a little more movement on against the zone, but credit Marquette for sticking with it and getting a cold shooting day from the ‘Cats

3. Who else is liking this aggressive Mikal Bridges? – I sure am. Bridges led the team with an ORtg of 137, which is showing that even though Bridges is taking more shots (and missing more shots) his value to the offense isn’t taking a hit at all. 20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and only 1 turnover in 34 minutes is a Josh Hart like stat line. Mikal was also 3 of 4 for shots at the rim, 0 for 2 on 2 point jumpers and 4 of 10 from 3. Mikal had that one nice bucket in transition, but the remainder of his 15 shots were during our half court offense. If Mikal can get 15 shots a game in the half court offense, we’re likely going to have a successful game.  

4. Three-point shooting – Yikes. That reminded me of that terrible game against NC St. 6 of 34 was not good. That being said, I can’t recall too many bad shots of those 34. I’m not of the belief that if you’re not making it, don’t shoot it, because stats usually equal out and that’s what Villanova does. But we had countless head fakes where we didn’t go into the defender and get to the line. Also, guys were being way to unselfish. I realize that an open 17 footer isn’t as good as an open 21 footer, but when you’re open, you gotta shoot. Especially for a shooter who needs rhythm, maybe a 16-18 footer might help get your confidence back. 3 point shooting also might be at a premium in our next game since Virginia only gives up 32% in 3 point shooting. 

5. The Kenpom chart is very interesting – With 5:43 left in the game, Villanova was winning 68-55. Kenpom’s analytics stated that Marquette had a 1.1% chance of winning the game. However, a 19-4 run to end the game turned that 1.1% chance into a reality.   With 3 minutes left in the game, Marquette had roughly a 6% chance of winning. With 2 minutes left, their chance was roughly 8%. Even with 1 minute left, Marquette had a 35% chance of winning. An interesting chart nonetheless. Jay will be on the guys this week to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  With Creighton faltering, it seems to be a 3 horse race with Butler and upstart Marquette and I also wouldn’t count out Xavier. There needs to be a sense of urgency as the next 3 BE games are very winnable, and getting a W against Virginia would help with overall seeding as winning/losing this game could be the difference between a 1 seed and a 2 seed, as there isn’t a better opportunity than against the Hoos.  

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