Just got home from PPL and wanted to post before bed. Nice arena, by the way, although crowd disappointing.
First off, I am terribly disappointed, as that was a winnable game. Villanova did not dominate us at all, and didn’t overwhelm us with athleticism. They shot it horribly most of the game, and with a little better play down the stretch, that could have been a final possession game. 48-48 with, I believe, 11 to play, and we actually led 48-43, causing Jay Wright to call a timeout earlier in the second half. We lost the game due to one reason, Villanova’s press, and our inability to break it down. It was an interesting press, not really a hard on the ball press, but passive pressure, then the ability to trap at center court and on the sidelines. We were dismal all night against it. Two things stuck out to me about it. First, KR getting in early foul trouble (3rd foul in first half on a beautiful floater but offensive foul, although basket counted, then picked up a horrible 4th on a reach 40 feet from the basket early in the second). With KR on the floor, he could break the pressure. With MS at the point, it was turnover city. Nova has a lot of length to press with in Hilliard, and others, longer guys with long arms who got a lot of deflections. What really angered me all night was how Lehigh attacked the press. Reed was horrible in this respect, made no adjustments, and it cost us the game. Anybody who knows basketball, knows that against that type of pressure, you have to get the ball into the middle of the floor. For some reason, we had a little guy usually CS in the middle of the floor, where he was no factor to catch. KR, MS and AP would get caught in the backcourt with no outlet, and turn the ball over. Must have happened 15 times, with 10 of those leading to layups. I would have attacked it by putting a big (TK) at mid court, to give the little guys an outlet in the middle of the court. Then on to the wing guys for a 2 on 1. Reed tried to do that with a smaller player and he was no outlet at all. Too small to be a factor and we never got the ball to the middle. Not once in the game, did we break the pressure, get the ball in the middle of the floor and go in 3 on 1 or 3 on 2 for a layup. And, Villanova saw blood in the water early and killed us with it. That was the ball game.
On the good side of things:
AP – played amazing game. I was on him as a one dimensional shooter with no ability to slash, drive and finish. Boy was I wrong. He took it to the rack repeatedly and finished among bigs with both hands several times. Impressive all around, and knocked down a number of jumpers. Kid was fantastic.
KR – loved what I saw of him, although limited by foul trouble. Super quick jets, with great handle and can flat out dish and pass the rock. Jumper needs work and he needs to play bigger minutes, but this kid is going to be a star.
TK – also played a great game. Much bigger body than last year, he has filled out or hit the weights or both. Nice post moves all night, hit some jumpers, and rebounded hard by himself at times. Played really hard, diving on the floor a number of times, and firing up his teammates. Loved his game. Will dominate in PL this year.
And, the bad:
MS – Struggled mightily against pressure. Did knock down a jumper, but really hurt them.
BA – Limited second half minutes, but in a critical point in the game. Looked very tentative, and unsure. Does not look like a premium athlete. Picked up a foul in first 10 seconds on the floor.
JC – Mostly invisible. When game got tight resorted to taking a couple ill advised 3’s. Did defend post pretty well and block a shot or two, but did not look like he has made large strides.
CS – Not to really criticize him, but he did not impact game too much. In fairness to him, he did not see much time on the ball, particularly against the pressure. Did make a couple of shots, but not his best game.
DC – Shockingly was first wing off bench, and did not impress. I did like his on the ball defense but nothing on the offensive end.
JRG – No minutes, bad sign.
KM – No minutes, bad sign.
TJ – No minutes, bad sign.
SC – Never got in any groove, took a few 3’s hit nothing, no impact. He looks to have dropped in the pecking order.
CB – Don’t recall him playing.
JG – Limited production and minutes
CR – Did get in game very late, to foul only. Incomplete.
But, frustrated as that could have been a big win for program and this group. Last few thoughts. We should have led by about 10 at the half. Nova couldn’t throw it in the ocean in the first, and Hilliard was dreadful. I think maybe 1-10 in the first half. Last two good things. Reed has really upgraded the roster over the last few classes with better athletes. We looked no less athletic than the number 12 team in the nation. (Nova is a very soft top 15 team, IMO) Finally, this team should win the PL.