Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Viewpoint from Opposition Lines:'s Fine Analysis of North Carolina's Victory over Villanova, in Final Four

To the Villanova Wildcats faithful-

As we all ponder the end of yet another incredible season of Villanova basketball, I would like to call your attention the site - the graphics look awesome, and the content is first-rate as well...

The author, T.H., has some great substantive points. It's valuable to hear the writers from opponents' web sites, as they often have great insight that we don't notice because we see the Wildcats all of the time...

Here are two samples:

How Villanova Can Beat the Heels (of course, with the stroke of midnight last night, we Villanova fans should now consider it the counterfactual scenario of How Villanova Could Have Beaten the Heels...)

First, despite what you may think, they won't slow the game down. In their two wins over Syracuse, they ran right at the Orangemen's pace, outscoring them 102 to 85 and 89 to 86. They'll try to work the ball into Dante Cunningham a lot, and penetrate with their guards to pick up fouls and disrupt UNC's interior defense. Villanova won't attempt a Duke-level number of threes - it's the main difference between the two similarly built teams - but they'll need someone to get hot, typically Scottie Reynolds or Corey Stokes, the two players who take more threes than twos. They'll go for the steal a lot, again like Duke, but they're also prone to fouling. This won't have an effect on their depth, unless Cunningham hits the bench early and gives the UNC front line a chance to feast upon his smaller teammates, but they should probably avoid sending UNC to the line if they can hep it.

Offensive rebounding will be important for the Wildcats, and there are only two starters who contribute in that regard, Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson, the 6'6" wing player built in a Danny Green mold. Keeping UNC off the offensive boards on the other end will be critical, though, and the Wildcats typically do well as a team in that end. Of course that's in part because they bait their opponents into taking so many threes; if they can do that against Carolina by denying entry passes and otherwise frustrating them like Maryland and Wake Forest did, that should go a long way to getting Villanova the win.

His second post - UNC 83, Villanova 69 - is a superb recap of the game action itself:
The entire game, it seemed like there were two Carolina teams flickering in and out of focus, like two TV channels overlapping on the same band. There was the team from the previous tournament games, where Ty Lawson sliced through defenders at will, and Wayne Ellington dropped threes at will, going 5 for 7 behind the arc on his way 20 points. And then there was the other Carolina team, that popped their heads up earlier in the season. The one frustrated by Villanova's defense descending on the big men in the paint. The team that gave up an obscene number of offensive rebounds to a smaller team (19, and only that low because the Heels finally got it under control late), that went through scoring droughts and could never put an opponent away. I'd hoped to never see that team again this year.
Of course, there will be much more to come on Villanova's appearance in the Final Four, in subsequent posts, on Sunday, Monday, and throughout the week... so please check back...

Go Wildcats!

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