Villanova vs. Virginia 1/29/2017
In the final scheduled OOC game for Villanova, in front of the most fans ever for a college game at the Wells Fargo Center, the Wildcats came from behind for a thrilling 61-59 win, after Donte DiVincenzo tipped the ball in with 0:00.1 seconds remaining. Villanova shot a very cold 18% in the first half, but got to the line 14 times, which kept them in the game. The second half was a different story in that they shot 72%, but 8 turnovers and a pace slower than usual (only 55 total possessions) kept the game close until the final possession.
Here are my 5 takeaways from the game
1. The 3 ball was the equalizer –In a true game where every possession counted as there were only 55 of them (and we’re one of the slowest teams in the country and average 65 possessions a game) Kenpom had the game at a 10% chance of winning for the ‘Cats with 8 minutes remaining. That was right around the time Jenkins and Hart hit their combined four 3 pointers, Brunson getting into the paint more, and Bridges doing his thing. However, in one of the few games in which the opposing team took away Jenkins and Hart by forcing them into tough shots most of the time, as soon as they stopped aiming the ball (like Kris was doing in the first half) and just letting it fly, the ball went in. This game also showed that while we had trouble when our shots weren’t falling, we can still win because of our defense, which we couldn’t do against UConn and NC St.
2. Brunson starred yet again – There was a thread asking if Jalen has ever had a bad game. We know he’s had a few, but I went through and counted. He’s played 62 games so far in a Villanova uniform. Here are his “bad” games. Bad is also somewhat subjective and this is mostly box score looking:
- Freshman year
- 2 points on 0 for 6 shooting @ Seton Hall
- 2 points in 13 minutes @ Butler
- 7 points on 2 of 7 shooting with 3 turnovers @ SJU
- 8 points and 7 turnovers against SJU
- 0 points in 9 minutes against SHU in BET Final
- 4 points, 1 rebound in 22 minutes against UNC
- Uh….you could MAYBE count the game @ Purdue in which he had 4 turnovers (10 points, 4 assists) and the game against @ SJU where he had 7 turnovers, most of them were when the game was decided. Other than that though…
Point being, Jalen is really really really good. The only reason I put a few additional games on the freshman year is to essentially show that even bad games aren’t really that bad, especially with our team where we can have other guys pick up guys who have a bad game. Furthermore, does he ever play out of control? If he puts up bad numbers, that’s one thing, but does he let that effect his ball handling or his leadership? Never. We only lost one of those games above, too. He’s putting up better than Arch type numbers with Arch type leadership when he immediately got the ball in year 2.
3. Forced UVA to matchup with us, rather than the other way around – One of my major critiques of Jay Wright in the early years (and even somewhat in the later years) was that he matched up with other teams. I remember a game against Tennessee where they had some really big guys, so Jay matched up with them playing Antonio Pena at the 3 (with Sutton and Yarou). We basically had our guards chuck the ball up and had our 3 bigs in there to try and stop them on defense. It obviously didn’t work because we lost, but Jay didn’t play Villanova basketball. While only having 7 guys doesn’t hurt the situation, Jay forced UVA to play “small ball” in that their 10 man rotation was cut down to 8, and their 9th and 10th men were bigs who usually play 12 and 13 minutes a game. This forced Wilkins to play 35 minutes as opposed to his usual 26 and also to play at the 5, when he usually only plays 10 minutes a game at the 5. While this doesn’t quantify what Jay did via stats, we did outscore them 24-12 over the last 10 minutes of the game while Perrantes played around his season average (31), guys like Wilkins (usually plays 27, played 35) Hall (usually plays 26, played 31) & Shayok (usually plays 21, played 36) and Jerome (usually plays 10, played 24) may have gotten a little tired as Bennett went to his hot hand and most steady performers.
4. Did it just click for Mikal Bridges? –This new found aggressiveness from Mikal has been outstanding. He’s scored 15, 20 and 15 over his past 3 games while taking 13, 16 and 9 shots. While the percentage is slightly down, the aggressive play has led to a much better effort from Bridges. Teams are keying in so much on Josh that Mikal has been the beneficiary. His transition game is still amazing as he was 3 for 3 in transition for 7 points and he went 1 for 3 in half-court offense on 2’s and 2 for 3 on half-court offense 3’s. Mikal has struggled all season when he takes a shot with 5 or less seconds on the shot clock, but to be fair, only Jalen Brunson has done well in this category but Mikal is playing more minutes and all this shooting hasn’t affected the rest of his game as over the last 3, he has a combined 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks, 3 turnovers and 3 fouls. Mikal is only 16 points away from 500 for his career.
5. Josh Hart’s senior season / career is one for the record books, so far – Just some fun numbers on Josh through 22 games:
- He only has 6 games where he shot under 50% from the field. And of those, only 3 of them are below 40%.
- Josh has 142 rebounds. He has as many defensive rebounds (108) as Mikal Bridges has total rebounds. Mikal and Kris are tied for 2nd with 83 defensive rebounds each. (Darryl has 73, but has 46 offensive rebounds which leads our team)
- Josh has a better than 2:1 Ast/TO ratio. He has 75 assists so far. Last year, he had 77.
- He’s taken 274 shots, which is more than his sophomore season (241) and freshman season (174)
- If he goes on to average his current average and we play 40 games, Josh is on pace to have 1,995 points and 841 rebounds. He’ll also have 296 assists and 164 steals. Not a bad career.